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Exalted Movie Mondays – Princess Mononoke

August 30, 2010

Those of you in the know as regards Exalted probably don’t need me to bring your attention to this movie. The same goes for those of you familiar with anime. But for that small cross-section of the population unfamiliar with either (or both), I ask: how did you get to this blog?

No, seriously, I present: Princess Mononoke.

Princess Mononoke is, like many movies by Hayao Miyazaki, an animated film that uses Japanese legend and myth to tell a tale to the modern world about ecological awareness. In this case, a wandering hero stumbles onto a conflict between iron-mining humans and the local animal spirits. In the end, the true conflict is not whether to side with the humans or animals, but whether there is a “right” or “wrong” side at all. It’s much more complicated than it initially seems, and it makes for an excellent commentary.

Even more relevant to my interests, however, is how Exalted the entire movie actually is. The protagonist, Ashitaka, is almost certainly a Solar Exalted, cursed by the hatred of a dying animal spirit, turned into a demon. The parallels with Abyssals are rampant. The titular princess is a girl raised by wolves, and the finest example of a Lunar I can conveniently recall. Lady Eboshi, who represents the humans, is an arrogant, entitled, self-righteous bitch who really is doing everything she does to make the lives of her lessers better. Dragon-Blooded, anyone? And finally, Jigo, a mysterious monk sent by the Emperor, plays all sides off one another to achieve his own, selfish ends, which is more Sidereal than Chejop Kejak.

The treatment of the spirit world could have come directly from Exalted. If you’re looking for inspiration for forest spirits or for a spirit court, or animal gods, or, really, anything, I can’t recommend this movie enough. Its beautiful vistas, fast-paced conflicts, and visually striking characters all lend themselves perfectly to Exalted. Small wonder… Exalted lists Princess Mononoke as one of its primary influences.

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