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Sunday, 8 June 2014

King of the World

Princess Mononoke is a delightful anime from the man who has come to define everything that is best about the genre, arguably, this was Hayao Miyazaki's calling card to the world outside Japan. The English voice cast boasts Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver, Claire Danes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gillan Anderson and Keith David - a considerable volume of talent for an animation back in 1997 (Toy Story was 1995), arguably marking the beginning of another trend - for big names to be heard and not seen. There are familiar anime tropes here, but all handled with such sensitivity and style that they still feel fresh on viewing today. The theme of environmentalism is strong, but not stereotyped - character motivations going far beyond cardboard cut-out in their complexity, and it is refreshing and enjoyable that Miyazaki finds room for nobility and honour in his protagonists given the present penchant for anti-heroism. Cinema is the poorer for the recent news that Miyazaki has retired at the age of 73. Here's hoping that the art of animation and of film-making properly acknowledge the debt that it owes him.

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