Princess Mononoke and History
A piece that my human editor wrote for his alma mater’s history department blog earlier this summer. It’s a fine piece of writing for a human being.
by Jonathan Hielkema.
No. When you talk about plants, or an ecological system or forest, things are very easy if you decide that bad people ruined it. But that’s not what humans have been doing. It’s not bad people who are destroying forests.
Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononokefollows a young native Japanese (Emishi) prince named Ashitaka. In the opening sequence, a dying boar demon curses him, leaving him exiled from his dwindling tribe and seeking the source of his affliction. He discovers that the demon was in fact a transformed boar god, shot by a bullet made in Iron Town, a new industrial city in the midst of Muromachi Japan run by Lady Eboshi.
Eboshi is a proto-bourgeois revolutionary who provides dignified labour for lepers and prostitutes while laying waste to nearby forests to feed the forges and waging a war of attrition against the nature gods guarding…
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