PRINCESS MONONOKE Gets the Royal Treatment [Blu Review]

GKIDS, and Shout! Factory deliver a Collector’s Edition for the cherished Studio Ghibli feature

It was not too long ago that the much revered Studio Ghibli films, crafted by Hayao Miyazaki, were far more difficult, and expensive, to bring into the comfort of your own home. Then along came Shout! Factory and GKIDs who, armed with distribution rights, delivered some great releases of these fantastic films. We’ve covered some of their previous efforts here at Cinapse, such as The Secret World of Arrietty, Porco Rosso, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away. These efforts all seem to be paving the way for a rather special treatment for one of maestro Miyazaki’s finest works, Princess Mononoke: a collector’s edition that backs up the film itself with an art book and soundtrack to underscore the magic of this animated effort.


Inflicted with a deadly curse, the young warrior Ashitaka heads west in search of a cure. There, he stumbles into a bitter conflict between Lady Eboshi and the proud people of Iron Town, and the enigmatic Princess Mononoke, a young girl raised by wolves, who will stop at nothing to prevent the humans from destroying her home and the forest spirits and animal gods who live there.

Masterpiece is a word that can sometimes feel overused in film criticism, but there is an overwhelming consensus that its application here is just. Princess Mononoke was the first animated film to win the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year, and is often regarded as one of, if not the best, films to come from the mind of Miyazaki. It’s certainly the film that propelled Studio Ghibli onto the world stage.

It’s a tale centered around humanity’s self-serving instinct clashing with an old way of life and nature itself. A young Prince Ashitaka, living in exile, striving to maintain an uneasy peace between animals and humans, is brought together in the midst of conflict with San, a young girl raised by wolves, who rallies the creatures against her own kind. A mythical, poignant, and resonant tale, it’s beautifully rendered, featuring enrapturing and inventive visuals, with punctuations of violence and intense moments that drive home how this isn’t just a cartoon, but an animated feature dealing with weighty issues with depth and nuance, one that champions not just messages about the environment and natural harmony, but also a strong female figure as its lead. The plot delves into the greys of human nature and relationships, most notably with the arc between the two young leads with an applaudable maturity.

While the subtitled original is the preferred viewing method, there was an admirable effort with the American dub, enlisting Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton, Gillian Anderson and more, while Neil Gaiman himself helped tweak the English script adaptation. The film was originally acquired and distributed by Miramax, whose head Harvey Weinstein was notorious for slicing up his acquisitions. He was halted in any such actions by a package he received from the film’s producer. This all speaks to a reverence for the film from its creators and talent involved, something that now extend to its fans, a reverence that is rightly earned.

The Package

The Blu-ray showcases a beautiful transfer of the film. Vibrant colors, good detail, contrast and deep blacks. There’s also a nice assortment of extra features:

  • Feature-Length Storyboards: They cover the entire runtime of the movie!
  • Princess Mononoke in the USA: Pretty entertaining documentary following Miyazaki and others on tour of the US. Some of the moments seem to catch them off guard, making for some frank insights.
  • “Behind the Microphone” featurette: About the recording sessions for the English dub.
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots

The release itself comes in a quality package. A sturdy slipcase houses and interior portfolio decorated with illustrations fro the film. This itself opens up to reveal the various discs (film and soundtrack) held in thick pages of this book.

In addition to the film, the release includes a CD (no additional digital, sadly) that contains all 33 tracks from the film. So you’re getting the full package here. The score, composed by Joe Hisaishi, is a a beautiful, rousing, imposing, and often haunting work. It’s one of the most impressive components of the film, and its inclusion is very welcome.

Also tucked away in the slipcase is a 40-page book which features new essays from film critic Glenn Kenny (The New York Times,, stills from the film, statements from director Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki, and Miyazaki’s poems about the characters and tale that were used to guide Hisaishi in his compositions.

The Bottom Line

If you haven’t already experienced the majesty of Princess Mononoke, this is a must buy. A mythical fairy tale, paired with reflections on morality, the environment, and humanity. Even if you’re returning to the film or already own it, the handsome package and inclusion of the soundtrack make this a very alluring release. Once that befits a genuine classic piece of filmmaking and testament to the enduring talents of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki.

Princess Mononoke Collector’s Edition is available via from May 14th, 2019.


GKIDS is a producer and distributor of award-winning feature animation for both adult and family audiences. Since 2010, the company has scored an astounding eleven Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations with The Secret of Kells in 2010, A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita in 2012, Ernest & Celestine in 2014, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and Song of the Sea in 2015, Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There in 2016, My Life as a Zucchini in 2017, The Breadwinner in 2018, and most recently Mirai in 2019. GKIDS also handles North American distribution for the famed Studio Ghibli library of films, one of the world’s most coveted animation collections with titles Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and others.

GKIDS recently launched ANIMATION IS FILM, an annual LA-based film festival. ANIMATION IS FILM embraces the highest aspirations of animation as a cinematic art form and is a vocal advocate for filmmakers who push the boundaries of their work to the fullest range of expression that the medium is capable of.

About Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform media company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s entertainment offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music and comedy specials. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast entertainment distribution network which delivers culturally relevant programming, movie and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America and across multiple platforms. Shout! Factory owns and operates Shout! Studios, Scream Factory, Shout! Factory Kids, Shout! Factory Films, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory TV. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Los Angeles, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit

Previous post The Poetry of POETIC JUSTICE
Next post Curl Up with Some SCARY STORIES