Artbook of the Day: The Art of Princess Mononoke

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I’ve cultivated an impressive, and to my knowledge, complete, collection of all of the fabulously hefty Viz artbooks on Hayao Miyazaki’s films. However, the artbook for my favorite Miyazaki film, Princess Mononoke, long eluded me because it was never released to the US. That gaping hole in my life was finally filled when my wonderful sister brought me home a copy after travelling to Japan, purchased from the Ghibli museum no less!

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I of course love all of Miyazaki’s films, but I consider Mononoke to be his masterpiece. It just tackles so much from environmentalism, war and pacifism, human brutality, and just… life. Being alive. Heavy stuff, but it’s all told in such a masterful and natural way that I can’t help but choose it as my favorite.

The book obviously has gorgeous images of the hand-painted backgrounds featured in the film…

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… While also, of course, featuring things like character sketches and other preliminary images:

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The only downside to me is that it’s all in Japanese, and my 3 years of studying the language in high school has pretty much dissipated by now. But it’s fine, the images are the real meat of it anyways.

In making Mononoke, Miyazaki has said that he had “started to think about what a villain really was… It was hard to make a villain that really deserved to be defeated; at least, I couldn’t do it.” And it’s true. There is no pure “good” and “evil” in his world- only people with differing motivations. It is this sophisticated and nuanced view of humanity that makes Mononoke a timeless classic.

 

***All Images are my own crappy ones taken of the book

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Hayao Miyazaki and the Splendor of Nature

Viewing a Hayao Miyazaki (or really any Studio Ghibli film) undoubtedly involves awestruck wonderment at the beautifully hand painted backgrounds. I recently had to watch most of his films again for a research paper, and even though they’re all very familiar to me, I remained captivated as a viewer. Watching his films is like living in a painting for a few hours.

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All gifs courtesy of Studio Ghibli gifs

All of Miyazaki’s films are a visual treat, and always include lush landscapes that celebrate the beauty of the natural world- which are reflective of his own environmental concerns. I admire how he combines the Kurosawa-esque shots of sweeping, dramatic landscapes-

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– with more intimate shots:

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The environments are so immersive, and the fact that they’re entirely created by artists, rather than a set designer, lends them a more magical and fantastic quality, despite their obvious painstaking realism. I guess the realism anchors the more fantastic elements:

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Overall, Miyazaki’s films all reflect a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world, and the importance of preserving it. He’s stated: “For me, the deep forest is connected in some way to the darkness in my heart. I feel that if it is erased, then the darkness in my heart would also disappear, and my existence would grow shallow.”

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