The first of Hayao Miyazaki’s films to make a real impact in North America, Princess Mononoke was originally released in Japan back in 1997, and two years later stateside. The story concerns A young warrior named Ashitaka is inflicted by a curse when saving his village from an attack by the mad boar God, Nago. He is forced to travel west in search of a cure. Once there, he finds himself amid a war between an industrialized village and the gods that rule the nearby forest. Ashitaka finds himself torn by his own needs, and his love for San, adopted daughter of one of the ancient forest gods. Together, Ashitaka and San attempt to save the forest, even as others plot to kill the Great Forest Spirit that protects it.
I’m on record on this site and various social media platforms saying that it’s hard for me to find much fault with this, or any Miyazaki’s work. Princess Mononoke is a beautifully conceived and thought-provoking work.
Following last year’s release of the My Neighbor Totoro Anniversary Edition, GKIDS and Shout Factory have now released the Princess Mononoke Collector’s Edition. For many, Princess Mononoke is considered Miyazaki’s best work. Wherever you stand on that debate, there’s no question that this Collector’s Edition is a thing of beauty.
Like the packaging for the My Neighbor Totoro 30th Anniversary Edition, the slipcase is 7″ square. Uniformity is good here! The slipcase is solid, and the goodies slide out easily. Inside, you’ll find a “deluxe disc portfolio” that features the Japanese title and one of the iconic stills from the film. Open that up, and both the Blu-ray disc and the CD soundtrack are protected by thick pages.
The Blu-ray disc is the same exact disc as the 2017 GKIDS/Shout Factory release of the film, which is the same thing as the 2014 Disney release (minus the Disney trailers).
Presented in 1080p and the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the image looks very clean. The colors are bright and bold throughout. This is really a stunning visual experience.
In terms of audio, the Blu-ray includes BOTH dubbed English and the original Japanese in lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, along with French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Naturally, both are wonderful, providing a nice sense of atmospherics, and clarity. Also included are the English SDH for the hearing impaired (“dubtitles), as are the French subs, but you also get English subtitles for the Original Language Version (aka proper Japanese-to-English translation of the original script). Good Stuff!
In addition to the film, the Blu-ray includes over two hours of extras:
- Feature-length Storyboards
- Princess Mononoke in the USA
- Original Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
Included in this Collector’s Edition, and a real highlight, is a CD copy of the film soundtrack. It includes all 33 tracks that were on the Japanese release. While I had heard much of this music while watching the film several times before, it was until I listened to this CD that I realized how good it is. Equal parts sweeping orchestrations, and creeping doom, Joe Hisaishi’s score takes on the emotional adventure that is Princess Mononoke.
Also included is a 38-page illustrated booklet featuring a new essay by The New York Times‘ film and music critic Glenn Kenny (“The Monumental Worlds of Princess Mononoke“), Hayao Miyazaki’s director’s statement about the film from 1995, and six poems Miyazaki wrote for composer Joe Hisaishi to impart his vision for the film.
Is it Worth Purchasing?
If you’re a Studio Ghibli fanatic (like myself), it’s a no brainer! For the casual fan who doesn’t feel need to own the CD soundtrack, or booklet, probably not. If you’re just looking for a copy of the film, you can still pick that up for less than half the price. But I have to say, given the beauty of this set, if you don’t already own the film or the CD, I would recommend buying this one, as the soundtrack is a real bonus.
Princess Mononoke (Collector's Edition) 1997
Movie title: Princess Mononoke (Collector's Edition)
Director(s): Hayao Miyazaki
Actor(s): Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida , Yûko Tanaka, Kaoru Kobayashi , Masahiko Nishimura , Tsunehiko Kamijô
Genre: Anime, Foreign, Fantasy, Adventure, Period,