We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into this Myth Movie Night. Amanda and Julia watch Princess Mononoke for the first time, cry a whole lot, and talk about how we need to be better to our environment. Is lipstick evil? Or just a sign of modernity? Who can say?
This week, Eric recommends Climate Grief from Philosophy Tube.
Content Warning: This episode contains conversations about violence, climate change, animal death, hunting, warfare, and gun violence.
- Skillshare is an online learning community where you can learn—and teach—just about anything. Visit skillshare.com/spirits2 to get two months of Skillshare Premium for free! This week Julia recommends “Writing Character-Driven Short Stories” with Yiyun Li.
- Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that finds and delivers clothes, shoes, and accessories to fit your body, budget, and lifestyle. Get started at stitchfix.com/spirits for 25% off when you keep your whole box!
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Julia: Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week, we pour our drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Julia. Amanda's on vacation, so I'm joined for this intro by Editor Eric.
Julia: This is episode 143, Myth Movie Night, Princess Mononoke.
Eric: Now, I did not watch this movie this week along with you guys, but I have seen it quite a few times. The best time I ever saw it was in this cool basement, fancy sushi bar, where they just had it playing on all of the TVs while everyone's eating fancy sushi.
Julia: I hope that wasn't your first introduction to the film because I feel like that would be too much.
Eric: It wasn't. It was my first introduction to fancy sushi though.
Julia: Very nice. I'm into that.
Eric: My cousin used to work at this fancy sushi place and she took me down there. It was quite the good stuff. She just said, "Is there anything off limits?" I said no and she knew the chef so she would just order up all of these wild, wild things that I had never had before. It's great.
Julia: Very cool. I feel like it's a bold move to say, "No." Anything is cool with sushi but that's just me personally.
Eric: I definitely had some interesting stuff, there're some I think eel eggs and some stuff like that. Yeah, so it's a real treat.
Julia: Interesting, okay. You know who I would treat to fancy sushi any day of the week, Eric?
Eric: Would that be our new patrons?
Julia: It is. It's our new patrons, [Katerzenia 00:01:29] and Megan.
Eric: Who would you buy the entire Blu-ray box set of all the Miyazaki films for?
Julia: Yeah. It's a bold move but I would absolutely do it for our supporting producer-level patrons, Philip, Eeyore, Skyla, Mercedes, Samantha, Marissa, Sammy, Josie, Neil, Jessica, and Phil Fresh. I would spend an entire day in the movie theater like a real nice one like an Alamo Drafthouse with all of our legend level patrons.
Eric: You mean Mark, Ayla, Cody, Mr. Folk, James, Jess, Sarah, Sandra, Audra, and Jack Marie?
Julia: I mean all of those people. They're all wonderful.
Eric: Julia, tell me what drink you and Amanda were drinking? The last time I saw the movie in that sushi bar, I was probably having some Sake but what were you guys having this past week?
Julia: I picked a drink that was inspired by our drinking around the world that we did in Epcot, you joined us for that. It was delightful but in Japan, I had this incredible drink that was like shaved ice and Sake and plum wine and a little bit of like black berry syrup. It was incredible. For this one, I want to do something a little bit more herbal so I made what's called a mist and shadow. It features peapods, dill, Sake, and also St. Germaine.
Eric: That sounds very good. If it was anything like the drink we had in Epcot, I'm sure you guys and our patrons will love it.
Julia: Yes, absolutely. Eric, I know we usually do recommendations but what have you been watching and reading and listening to?
Eric: I want to recommend after listening to the full episode, after editing it since we do the full episode and then the intros later, a video by Philosophy Tube. We talked about some heavy topics towards the end of this, nothing terribly dark or anything but I guess terribly dark because it's about climate change.
Julia: Yes, it is.
Eric: Philosophy Tube, one of my favorite YouTubers just this past week released a video on the climate grief. I think it's really worth checking out. He makes unbelievably good videos. They're all very like well stylized and scripted, and like act as a small theater productions like one man shows more than anything on YouTube. This video since it directly relates to the conversation you and Amanda had at the end of the episode, I think it's well-worth checking out for sure.
Julia: Awesome. That sounds really cool. I'm going to check it out myself. Now, Eric. One last plug before we get to our episode, I know you are the creator of the new multitude show that is exclusive to our Multi Crew members, Head Heart Gut. Do you want to just give us a little plug and why people should start listening to it?
Eric: Head Heart Gut is a friendly debate show created by myself and Eric Silver. It is a game show that takes place over the course of four weeks. The first three weeks, each person presents a choice of a certain trio or small set. Then in the final episode, a special guest judge, Julia was one of those special guest judges. Here's the arguments of those people and gets to decide who the ultimate winner is. It's fun because instead of doing like one episode discussing two things, it is like a seasoned long arc.
There's different parts of the show, so it feels pretty fresh throughout the whole thing. Episodes are usually about 20, 25 minutes for the first three and then the judging episode can go up to an hour. It's got a nice feel. It's a lot of fun and I'm really happy with what we've created. Right after this, I'm actually going to be recording September's season with a few special guests. I guess I can say Brandon and Mike.
It will be a lot of fun. You can check out the first two seasons on Primary Colors and Gen One Pokemon Starters already if you sign up. Pretty soon in September, we've got a whole new batch coming.
Julia: Do you want to give the people a little hint as to what it's going to be?
Eric: I'll say it is not going to be exactly a 23 part saga but it could definitely go on that long if you had the right team.
Julia: The money that certain giant corporations have?
Julia: Sure, all right. You can listen to Head Heart Gut if you'd go to multicrew.club and sing up to be a member of the Multi Crew today, highly recommended. It is some great stuff coming out. We have a lot of fun, little perks that go with joining the Multi Crew. Without further do, please enjoy episode 143, Myth Movie Night, Princess Mononoke.
Amanda: Julia, I'm just going to sit here in my pain until you tell me to say something because Princess Mononoke has ruined me.
Julia: Yeah, I was just going to be like, "I'm real sad now," because of Princess Mononoke.
Amanda: I was so excited to watch this movie. I had not seen it yet and I love every other Miyazaki movies, I'm stoked. Eric was like, "My god, Amanda. You're going to love this. It's about women fighting a very important war and like fixing mistakes that men make." I was like, "Amazing, sounds like the perfect spirit movie." I did not know it was going to break, reshape and re-break me as a person.
Julia: Yeah. I will admit this is my first time watching Princess Mononoke as much as a weeb I was as a child, this is yeah, my first time and oh boy.
Amanda: Maybe it's good that you didn't watch it until now because I think you would have fully become a wolf daughter.
Julia: Yeah, yeah, that would have happened to me, huh? I would have just been straight up that.
Amanda: That was baby Julia for those curious like rolling out onto the playground, yeah.
Julia: Wolf child.
Amanda: Wolf child. Hair little tangles like ready to scrap.
Julia: My hair was always tangled.
Julia: That's true.
Amanda: Beautiful though.
Julia: Yeah. I just straight up didn't take notes for the last hour and a half of this movie because I was so enthralled and also because I had a weird Yankee setup where I couldn't find one that had either subtitles or dubs. I pulled up the scripts on one set of my monitor. Then the movie on the other side of my monitor, I just watched it like that.
Amanda: Yeah. I'm eating my words here because this would have been an appropriate situation, should I be ready for this? Would have been an appropriate situation to own a Blu-ray.
Julia: He did. He did send us the Blu-ray when we were trying to find streams online. I will give him credit.
Amanda: I own exactly one Blu-ray and that is the box set of West Wing. I think it's a DVD actually. I own one DVD/Blu-ray and it's the box set of West Wing. I think Miyazaki movies may have to be the second set I own.
Julia: Yeah but that's also money-money, cash-cash.
Amanda: Julia, let's get into Princess Mononoke. Tell us a little bit about why you chose the movie and let's do maybe like a high level plot synopsis.
Julia: Sure, yeah. I don't want to go into like to too much detail because I didn't take a lot of notes on the plot. I just took notes on my emotions.
Amanda: I have pulled up Wikipedia.
Julia: I picked Princess Mononoke because Japan has a really interesting relationship when it comes to spirits and their gods and their association with the environment. I think that Miyazaki really, really encapsulates that in this film. Just watching the film, you can sense that relationship and the other worldliness of the world itself is a good way to describe it. It's very early right now and I'm just ball of emotions.
I'm sure I'll have more coherent things to say as we start to get into the plot. Yeah, good movie, lots of deities and stuff like that. We'll talk more as we get to the plot points.
Amanda: Yeah. Listeners, this would be a really great one for you to watch and then listen to this episode along with us. We won't spoil it during the ep but this is seriously worth your time. It's one of the few exceptions to the type 90 roll of movies where this is a tight two and a half hours, and it's absolutely worth it.
Julia: It was worth every single second.
Amanda: Julia, we open in a beautiful village, very idyllic, very pastoral. There is a cameo by Kiki of the delivery service. I was like, "The girl from the [inaudible 00:09:28]. Wait, it's Kiki."
Julia: There it is.
Amanda: Then all of a sudden, there is danger. We see our protagonist riding around doing I don't know like rounds guarding, climbs to a watchtower, starts to talk to an elder there. Then we see something creeping over the wall of the village. It is like darkness incarnate. This is the Tatari Gami, "cursed spirit", that I just called evil tangela. Don't like that one bit.
Julia: Evil tangela in shape of weird bore.
Amanda: Yes and then... We see like chase around. Our protagonist thought and tries to like cut it down. He gets one arrow in the eye but then didn't stop. Then by the time that he finally kills the bore that's at the middle of this demon, it falls over. We realized like, "Wait, that bore is gigantic," also, it's a god.
Julia: Yes. Actually, it puts that curse on the village too as it dies which is not good. I wrote down the quote, "It is soon all of you will feel my hate and suffer as I have suffered."
Eric: Yeah and Ashitaka is like, "Oh no. Also, this thing touched me and now my arm is purple."
Julia: Yeah and this is really interesting too because a lot of Shintoism which is the religion that this movie finds a lot of its inspiration from focuses around purification. We saw that a little when we talked about the Japanese underworld in earlier episode where purifying and purification have such influence on just the culture itself. I think that like this is a really interesting plot point because it is so focused on an aspect of Shintoism that is a huge part of it.
Amanda: Also I looked up the Emishi people which is the village that it's an Emishi village that Ashitaka comes from, are historical people. They're from the Tohoku region in Japan. They have literatures dating back to 400 AD though the movie takes place between 1550 and the 1650 AD.
Julia: Yeah. I really like that. Also, their signatures as we find out later from his interactions with the monk are pottery. Also, they ride red deer. As I mentioned, literally last week, deer much better to ride than horses, I stand by that.
Amanda: Deer are amazing, this deer in particular. Eric calls it an ibex. I think that might be like a particular deer, that kind of deer that it is but it's incredible and wonderful. Ashitaka and Yakuru, the deer have a beautiful peer friendship and I love it. It's worth re-watching the movie just to see that again [crosstalk 00:12:06].
Julia: Animal companions are always good and I love them so much.
Amanda: The movie's full of them.
Julia: Yeah. They're everywhere.
Amanda: Moving on, Ashitaka confers with the elders in the village. We learned, kind of like put a goose bumps on me that these people, this tribe has lived isolated for over 500 years because they were at war and they wanted to protect themselves both from dangers outside the village that seemed more like environmental dangers and then also other people. The tribe has been growing weaker and smaller. Ashitaka was touched to be the next chieftain of the village.
Now for their loss, the demon that touched him, the curse he's carrying will eventually kill him. They say, "Do you accept your fate?" He says yes. Something that I though was really moving was he accepts what lays before him whereas the elders around him are upset and regretful. Normally, you see that the young person is rebellious quite like Katniss style like doesn't want to do it. Then the elders are like, "No. You have to do it."
Here you see that like these people really cared deeply for each other. This is a serious tragedy but Ashitaka has the stoicism and higher purpose to say, "Yes. I will head west. I will figure out what's going on. I will try to confer with the old gods and figure out why an old god was infected by a demon, why he had a ball of iron in his stomach, and to how we can at least find out more information and send that back onto the people who will survive me."
Julia: Yeah, you make a great point there because normally when we look at a hero's journey, we have a very reluctant hero to begin with then they have to be convinced in order to go onto their journey.
Julia: Ashitaka is ready to do it as soon as they're like he certainly doesn't seem happy about it. He doesn't want to live his people behind but at the same time, he does it with grace and with dignity, and with a certain amount of courage that it takes to leave your people and never return.
Amanda: Absolutely. Before he leaves, his younger sister, Kaya, friend of Kiki, gives him a crystal dagger so he won't forget her. He's like, "Don't worry. I'll never forget you," and I just did my first cry of this movie.
Julia: Wow, this early huh?
Julia: All right, that was a good day for Amanda. Also, he is like, "I will never forget you," and then immediately gives it to another girl.
Amanda: It is his sister. I thought at first, they have romantic interests but Wikipedia tells me it's his sister, so that at least isn't quite as opportunistic.
Julia: Yes, that's something in ways but still-
Amanda: On the road, Ashitaka comes across a Buddhist monk, Jiko who tells Ashitaka... He sort of at first like being I guess like led or persecuted or attacked or goaded by another group of people. Ashitaka goes to defend him but then we see that his right arm which is one that was touched by the demon, sort of takes over it and actually fires the arrows. Straight off, Julia, cuts off a person's arm and then cuts off a person's head.
Julia: Yeah. I was not expecting it to be as violent as it is.
Amanda: I like gasped.
Julia: Yeah. All of a sudden it happened, I'm like, "Huh? Huh? Huh?"
Amanda: Yeah like that is that's really what happened. Something that Eric pointed out too is like this is an adult movie, this is not for kids.
Amanda: Unlike most Miyazaki movies like this is made for adults that deals with adult subjects. It is animated of course but this is like a movie that recons with humanity and it's not just for children.
Julia: It really, really does. Also, at one point, he manages to decapitate someone with just an arrow. I'm like I don't... that doesn't... I don't, okay.
Amanda: I think it's something to do with the other worldly force that the demon brings to him, the power because we do see later on that he demonstrates super human strength. He's able to lift a tree log. He's able to lift a gate of a village which normally takes 10 men. We see some inkling that he will transcend just human power which he showed in that first scene of defending the village.
Julia: Sure, I agree.
Amanda: He becomes allied with Jiko. Jiko feeds him. They camp together at night. Jiko seeds in Ashitaka's mind that maybe he can go ask for help from the great forest spirit which is an animal god by day and giant night walker by night. Nearby, the men who originally attacked there was goading Jiko are going to Tataraba, Irontown which is led by Lady Eboshi. Ashitaka soon goes to say hello to them right after they fend off, attacked by a wolf pack led by the wolf goddess, Moro.
Julia: Yeah. God, that the first scene with the wolves is so good and so like you immediately or at least in my head, I immediately put like two into together, the iron ball, Irontown, the guns that they're using and then firing upon the wolves. I'm just like, "Ooh, oh no. This is bad."
Amanda: Yeah and the way that Ashitaka finds out about this is he is riding through the forest and seeds San, the human girl who's riding the wolves with a wolf pack, with a red mask like painting on her arms, not a sexy outfit like just bring a two nick that's white because she is living with the wolves which is really nice to see. He sees her bring the wolves out to take a drink. They make eye contact and then immediately, of course San leaves but clearly something about them is like what Ashitaka is looking for.
He reverse engineer as where they came from and thereby makes it to Irontown. It's I'm hearing this out of my head, so let's call it Tataraba which is what it is-
Julia: I'm not going to remember that, okay. I will say though that after the wolf attack, he helped several of the Irontown citizens who fell and were left for dead, and manages to bring them back to Irontown but only by going through the "forbidden forest" which is that was really funny in my translation. As he is carrying these people through the forest, we see for the first time the Kodama which are really, really cool. Do you remember the Kodama?
Julia: The little white guys with-
Amanda: Little forest friends, Julia.
Amanda: They're amazing. They came on screen and I sat up straight. I said, "Very creepy, very cool."
Julia: Yes. Kodama are an actual spirit from Japanese tradition. They are basically... They're similar to Dryads in Greek Mythology where they're associated with individual trees but also the forest as a whole. The term "Kodama" refers specifically to the spirit but also the tree in which they reside in. They're also associated with, do you remember they do the little like noise-
Amanda: They sure do. They rotate their head as if you're rotating like a thermostat or I don't know, the like beginning of them toes rubbing, and then it springs back in an absolutely creepy and then adorable fashion. I don't think that anything has been this creepy and cool in the same moment as the Kodama arc.
Julia: Yeah. That phenomenon and why they make that noise is called Yamabiko. Basically, it's the delayed echoing effect in mountains and valleys that you can hear it sweeps across the mountain or a valley when you hear a noise.
Amanda: What's that?
Julia: That is what the Kodama are associated with which is very cool.
Amanda: They're so good.
Julia: Yeah. I love them. They're like dorky but also creepy, I love it.
Amanda: Yeah. We just went to the Japanese supermarket in F-Cat and I got a beautiful little dish towel with a little dust friends whom spirited away. I want to go back immediately because I want to buy one of these guys. If I didn't know about the Kodama, I probably would have seen that doll, then like scary alien by, but the Kodama are now my best friends, and I love them a lot. They're also very important to the broader plot of the movie. We glimpsed them again and again in significant ways as sort of barometers of the health of the forest.
Ashitaka is like, "Don't be worried when they see one." He's like, "This is awesome. They are signs of a healthy forest," whereas the men from Irontown is like, "No, no, no. Scary, what are those?" Right away, we seeded here the acceptance and understanding of the worlds, the natural worlds versus a more antagonistic perspective and maybe one that's less versed in the long standing traditions and knowledge of the place.
Julia: Yeah. I would also maybe even argue a more westernized version because it's one of the first things I associated with the Kodama is when they were leading them through the forest, Ashitaka very trusting things that the Kodama are going to help them get through and lead them to help whereas the men from Irontown basically is like, "I think he's going to leave us astray, I think he's going to get us even more lost," which reminds me of so many European spirits that you find in the forest who just want to steer you around and have you starve to death, or just lose you and then attack you in the forest if you go off the path. I think that it's really interesting to look at those two perspectives.
Amanda: Yeah. This is also a movie about inherited wisdom versus like growth in scare quotes. A lot of the conflict here is about like do we choose a world that is enough for everybody or do we choose one where I have to defend everything that I have and could possibly want because if I don't, someone else will take it. There's one that's collaborative, there's one that's antagonistic and not to like reduce the centuries of different people and religions and cultures and identities into two basic plot points.
In terms of just like futurism or progressivism or like all of these ideas where we drive toward industrialism and more resources and more defense, it's like a defensive mindset versus a more collaborative mindset. I think every country and people have struggled with that but that's very much the thing at the center of this movie.
Julia: Yeah, that's a great point. Wow. I love when you do that.
Amanda: Thank you.
Julia: I want to say one of the other things that they see when they are going through the forest is the forest spirit but from a distance at first.
Amanda: They do and it looks like a deer surrounded by a golden halo. I was like, "The deer is God," okay I get it. It's the clearest imagery you could ask for.
Julia: Also like many, many antlers not just the singular antlers.
Amanda: Many, many antlers like a real crown like on an icon. Yeah.
Julia: They also at one point bathe in this water that they find in the center of the forest and noticed that their wounds not entirely are healed but feel a bit better. Ashitaka feels stronger as he passes through the forest and is carrying the man out just from glimpsing the forest spirit. He feels a little bit stronger then he's able to make it to the water where they bathe, the one man who's less wounded is stabilized. Then the other one drinks from it and we assumed as able to make that final journey back to Irontown because he has a little boost of strength.
Julia: Yeah. Also, Ashitaka's weird cursed arm starts flipping out when it sees the forest god too but more to the point, it doesn't heal his cursed arm. Bathing in the water does nothing for his cursed arm.
Amanda: It's true. Then we make it to Irontown and shit pops off but-
Julia: [crosstalk 00:23:40] Eboshi.
Amanda: We sure do. Before we talk more about this lipstick chieftain, I would love if you would join me for a refill.
Julia: Let's go. Eric, as you know, I have been experimenting in professional wrestling. Is that a good way to describe it? I don't really mind.
Eric: I feel like you're doing it pretty full on at this point. I wouldn't say it's an experiment at this point.
Julia: Yeah and I can feel it in my body a lot of the times. I come home very sore a lot of days. I have had a lot of help with that actually. A lot of that has to do with Feals. Feals I s a premium CBD that is delivered directly to your doorstep, it helps naturally reduce stress, anxiety, pain and sleeplessness. I've been using it for my sore muscles and like when my neck starts feeling a little funky because I took a bad bump.
Honestly, I can really feel the difference. All you have to do is place a few drops of Feals under your tongue and you can feel the difference within minutes. It's so easy. I can do it right before bed. It just helps me fall asleep even though my muscles are aching and sore.
Eric: What's really nice is that if you're new to CBD since it is a big thing right now than not a lot of people know everything about, Feals offers a free CBD hotline and text message support so they can guide you through your introduction to this, so there's nothing to worry about, so you can learn all the details and feel comfortable trying this new thing out.
Julia: Yeah and some people get a little nervous about trying CBD, yeah but the nice part is there's no high. You don't get a hangover from it. There's no addiction associated with it. Right now, you can join the Feals community to get Feals delivered directly to your door every month. You can save money on every order and you can pause and cancel it at any time. Feels is really helping me a lot with managing my pain.
You can become a member today by going to feals.com/spirits and you'll get 50% off your first order with free shipping. That's F-E-A-L-S.com/spirits to become a member and get 50% automatically taken off your first order with free shipping. That's feals.com/spirits.
Eric: Thanks so much, Feals. Julia, as you know, this year we've been doing more live shows than ever before as multitude.
Julia: We have.
Eric: For me, when I'm up on stage, you know that I've got to look fresh.
Julia: Everyone does.
Eric: Who helps me stay fresh more than Stitch Fix?
Julia: Hello, Stitch Fix?
Eric: Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that delivers your favorite clothing, shoes, and accessories directly to you. When I go shopping, I usually end up just getting like one thing at a time so I can figure out if it matches other stuff I already have but Stitch Fix will send you five items from brands you know and love plus exclusive styles that you won't find anywhere else. Meaning, that they will package up a perfect outfit and give you these little cards about other clothes that will match with those outfits, so you can have an outfit ready to go and you'll probably be able to put that shirt on with those pants that you already have and still look good.
You're not just like you're not getting delivered one outfit, you're getting delivered a nice starter kit that can be expanded. After you complete your style, profile, and expert stylist will help you pick clothes that you love. They send you that box and then you are good to go whether it's out on the town to work or to a live show whether you're in the audience or up on stage.
Julia: It's versatile as hell and that's the best part that your stylist will listen to you. You can add little notes then being like, "Hey. I am performing on a stage next month. Can you send me outfits that would look good on stage?" Then they send you sparkles and I love it.
Eric: Yes, they have definitely sent you a number of outfits with sparkles in them for sure.
Julia: Yes, they know me very well at this point.
Eric: The great thing is that shipping, exchanges, and returns are always free. The $20 styling fee is automatically applied towards anything you keep right in your box.
Julia: You can discover some new styles and find unique pieces with Stitch Fix. I had found some incredible stuff that is just in my wardrobe constantly. I cycle through those all of the time. It's honestly I couldn't think of a better way of shopping.
Eric: You can get started today at stitchfix.com/spirits and get 25% off when you heap everything in your [inaudible 00:27:57].
Julia: Yup, that's stitchfix.com/spirits.
Julia: Speaking of like performances on our live shows and stuff like that, I've been really trying to expand my horizons when it comes to creating stuff artistically. I just recently started taking a class with Skillshare about writing character driven short stories. I've always been like, "Maybe I'll write a novel one day," but I think starting smaller and starting with short stories and really learning the bits of a story is going to help me in the long run of wanting to write and do things creatively.
I took this really, really interesting class. It was like 45 minutes of really dug deep though and like taught so many of these cool skills. Of course, I learned about it through Skillshare. Skillshare is an online learning community of creators. They have over 25,000 classes that are designed to fuel your curiosity, your creativity, and your career. Spirits listeners as you will know can go and get two free months of Skillshare premium at skillshare.com/spirits2.
If writing is not your thing, you can take classes in stuff like social media marketing, mobile photography, or even illustration. There's a great class right now that's about just illustrating with pen work which I know is really, really difficult to do. Whether you're looking to discover a new passion, start a side hustle or grain a new professional skill, Skillshare is there to keep you learning, thriving, and reaching those new goals. Sign up today. You go to skillshare.com/spirits2 to get two free months of Skill Share premium.
Eric: Again, go to skillshare.com/spirits2 to start your two month free trial now.
Julia: Now, let's get back to our show.
Amanda: Julia, lipstick equals sin, pride, modernity? Let's talk about lipstick in this movie.
Julia: Modernity I think is the correct term.
Amanda: Yeah because Lady Eboshi is the head of Irontown. She is like a capitalist. She is an industrialist. She is here to run this town where men are in charge of going out for food, of herding oxen which they both eat and then use to plow and to trade for rice. There's clearly like food scarcity and real problems of resources going on. More to the point, the women in the village are wearing like head scarfs and very functional two nicks in cute colors, and work all evening long in the iron works to make iron and steel that they trade for resources.
Julia: Yeah, I will also point out that almost all of the people who are living in Irontown who are brought there by Lady Eboshi are social outcast. They are lepers who are helping manufacture her guns. Most of the women there were women who worked in brothels that Lady Eboshi then paid out their contracts so they can come live in Irontown which I think is very cool but yeah. It seems like while industrial, it seems like sort of a paradise for people who wouldn't be "accepted" in the outside society.
Amanda: Yeah. It definitely complicates our view of Eboshi because we walk in and we're like, "Okay, she's manufacturing iron." We see that she is manufacturing guns. It's like, "Oh no, obviously this is bad," but then you see someone with personal experience talks and is like, "Hey, Ashitaka," like, "I get that you have to make your own decision about whether you think this is right or wrong but no one helped us, no one looked at us, don't want to be near us or touch us. Eboshi has given us a great life and like meaningful work."
It's truly everybody's trying to fight for what they think is right and not entirely bad and not entirely good which should have been my first signal that this movie is a tragedy.
Amanda: Not just a fun run through the forest.
Julia: Yeah, it's a many shades of gray except for Jiko. I feel like he's the only one that is just like, "No, you're just a dick."
Amanda: "You can go. I don't need you."
Julia: Eboshi also explains to Ashitaka about San was raised by wolves and hates all of humankind and definitely wants to kill her.
Amanda: Yeah. The quote is, "Mononoke lives to kill me." I was like, "God, that's San." I was like, "Why? How? Do you know each other? Are you related? What's happening?"
Julia: Nope, which is she's bad in cutting down the forest so that she can get her iron.
Amanda: Exactly, so they're like clearcutting the forest to get iron sand to then make iron. That is the conflict here where Eboshi wants to encroach on the forest. She wants to get rid of like literally kill the forest spirit because that will domino effect style like disempower the other old gods who are trying to fight her back from cutting down their forest. They are like truly at logger heads here. Eboshi wants to eliminate them entirely.
They want to eliminate Eboshi. Depending on who you're talking to, humans entirely, like the gorillas that we meet later on are just like, "Nope. All humans are bad. Let's eat them all and get their power. Goodbye."
Amanda: Versus others like the wolves, seemed a little bit isolationist to the bore, seemed a little more like, "Going to just go for it until we die because we'd rather die free than living slave." It's a lot.
Julia: Yeah and that we meet the bore god, Okkoto later. He makes a point of saying that the more forest is cut down, the more they become just actual animals, squealing pigs and lose their like identity and intelligence. It reminds me this is a weird pull, but it reminds me of in the plot of Wicked where the talking animals are slowly losing their ability to speak and reason.
Amanda: They sure are.
Julia: Yeah, that hurt me and my soul.
Amanda: What a good pull, something-
Julia: Oh God, it's so malicious. I don't like it.
Amanda: So scary. I also love by the way that whenever Ashitaka gets mad at seeing the like crimes against the forest that he is witnessing, he has a rage fan like a fan from down by his belly like blows his hair and his clothes up. His sleeves flutter. I think it is the most adorable and endearing thing I've ever seen.
Julia: It's very anime, I feel it in my heart. We don't get to spend much time in Irontown before things go bad of San shows up basically breaks into Irontown and tries to kill Lady Ebushi but Ashitaka steps in the middle of things and manages to knock both of them out which the Irontown people are not super happy about. Let's be real but at least, they didn't murder each other.
Amanda: Yeah and that's only with the demonic power that he's able to do that because both Eboshi and San are incredibly smart strategist and skilled in like knife work. I don't know if you know this, this, Julia but like the tenor of their fight like the sounds of the knives were much higher pitched than those usually are. It just it sounded like cutting through everything I've ever known.
Amanda: It's like a crystal bell level of clarity. The sound design of this movie is so good. Obviously, the animation is beautiful and like we know that about Miyazaki films but the sound is also the thing that I keep getting like stunned by. It's so good.
Julia: Right. It's very, very good. God, yeah, no but I was going to bring up the fact that the animation in that fight scene is also fantastic. The fact that you layered over with that incredible sound design is it just makes it.
Amanda: Yeah. It's clear that San was there on a mission that her own life was less important than her mission. She was there to kill Lady Eboshi and therefore, presumably, to stop the humans from doing their work. Ashitaka intervenes so that he is able to carry San out. Here is where we have like a biblical miracle level thing where Ashitaka is shot through the stomach as he is trying to leave with San on his shoulders and continues to walk like bleeding his way out of the village just walking through people.
He like bends a sword on his way out of the gate, he is trying to just be very diplomatic. He's like, "I'm going to leave. Let me go," like, "I don't want to hurt anybody," and then ends up like lifting the gigantic gate of the city walls just on his own and letting it drop down behind him. It is staggering.
Julia: I do want to bring up just a quick plot point. During the fight, Ashitaka intercedes and explains like, "It doesn't matter which one of you is right or wrong in the situation. You're both fueled by hate and that's what's going to consume the both of you," which is immediate call back to the beginning of the movie where the bore god basically tells him, "Hey. I am full of hate. If you're full of hate too, you're going to suffer like I suffered."
Amanda: Yeah, it's very, very true.
Julia: It's very good.
Amanda: I have a lot of feelings. Very good. This is like the third act of the movie where we move toward the like final battle. Eboshi is going to kill the forest god. Ashitaka is trying for that not to happen. San is trying to defend the interest of the wolves but ultimately needs to break free a little bit because as we start discussing, like she is not wolf but she also doesn't feel accepted among the humans. Her panic here is the fact that like the forest is the only thing that's ever accepted her, the only home she's ever known.
Without the forest, like her family of the wolves does not exist. She really is struggling to imagine a place for herself. I imagine that's what is leading her to see her life as much less valuable than keeping the forest because she sees it like if we lose then it's not a life anyway.
Julia: We also see that Ashitaka and Moro, the wolf god have a conversation where basically, Moro says that if the forest is destroyed so will all of the creatures including San be destroyed. Ashitaka has this whole argument which I think I'm very conflicted about his decision to make this argument but basically say, "Hey. Let San be free. Let her join me and be the human that she's supposed to be rather than die alongside you."
Amanda: At least in my sub titles, the translation was more like wolf figure out how to survive together because I thought he was going to the same point as well and be like, "She is a human, so she can find a way in the human world," which like it is not true but my view was like both of them are humans who respect and love the forest and are tied to it in some way. While they don't know what life they will have after the battle like the dust settles, they'll be able to rely on each other and figure out a place.
Julia: Yeah. We see that at the end of the film but we'll get there in a little bit.
Julia: We also see the return of Jiko who is basically working with the emperor and Lady Ebushi to kill the-
Amanda: No monk, he's no simple monk.
Julia: To kill the forest spirit because the emperor thinks that the forest spirit's head is going to grant him immortality.
Amanda: Emperors and rulers always looking for immortality.
Julia: I think also this is like in Japanese culture the emperor's very much tied to the gods and goddesses of the land of Japan. It seems counter intuitive and also frustratingly narcissistic and egotistic for this emperor to sit out and be like, "Yeah. Fuck that forest. Bring me the head, please. I want to live forever."
Amanda: Yeah. At least from the way that that's depicted in the film, I'm not quite sure about the historical roots, it sounds like the definition of modernity which is like both of symbiotically supporting each other and granting each other more than we could do on our own, I'm going to sacrifice you completely for me to win all the way. It sounds like he's taking one form of divine power or endorsement into trying to channel all of that into his own personal legacy.
Julia: Yeah. Basically, the next plot point we see is Ashitaka is basically saved by the forest spirit. His wounds are healed. The bores have gathered in the forest and are going to make one last stand against the people of Irontown. Ashitaka is just like concerned about everyone and everything which is good for him. He returns back to Irontown to see that it's being attacked by those same samurai and warriors that he straight up murdered earlier in the movie.
Julia: He tries to warn Eboshi that this is not a good plan, "Just don't kill the forest god, it will ruin everything." Everyone just goes through with everything anyway and doesn't listen to Ashitaka which-
Amanda: Yeah. It's not just like both groups of humans are trying to fight the forest gods only. They're also fighting each other like the emperor's men are on like a centrifuge mission to also destroy Irontown because Lady Eboshi is trying to keep too much of her iron and too many of her profits for the emperor. Jiko is like a triple agent here. Sure enough as soon as Eboshi and some of the emperor's men go off to the forest to conclude this like assassination mission, the samurai turned on Irontown.
The women there as the men are like out trying to fight and go after the forest god, are left to defend the city with arrows and guns and whatever they have available to them. Ashitaka sees this, says like, "Don't worry. I will try to get a message to Lady Eboshi to come back and defend you," and tries to run off and to seek her.
Julia: Also worse too is that the people who are fighting on the main lines against the forest spirits, the bores and what not, the people of Irontown are put on the frontlines and aren't told that the people behind them are going to be using land mines and grenades in order to kill all of the bores.
Amanda: It's horrible, yeah.
Julia: It's absolutely awful, war's a terrible thing. Don't use people as human weapons. That's just... God, anyway, the humans managed to come up top but not after having so many casualties. The bores are basically all defeated and their leader Okkoto basically falls to his wounds and is corrupted much like we saw Nago, the other bore god earlier on in the film.
Amanda: The forest spirit shows up to end the suffering of both Okkoto and Moro, San's mom, the wolf spirit. From there, the forest spirit begins to transform into this giant night walker. Juls, what's the like mythological origins of this spirit?
Julia: The Deidara-Botchi, there's more than one. This is like a familiar phenomenon across Japan. They're basically the large humanoid shadowy creatures that resembled bald headed priests given the bullshit that happens with Jiko that's interesting that they chose this as the inspiration. The version in Princess Mononoke is probably a lot more romanticized I would say or at least the early version of it is romanticized once the forest god loses their head, it's much more similar to the version in Japanese Yokai tradition.
Amanda: Was maybe more of like an origin story like this is what this Yokai was like before something bad happen to them or something more I don't know, like sinister.
Julia: Yeah. Basically, they're supposed to have these huge rolling eyes, these big lolling tongues, and this pitch black skin, so the version that we see that this weird amorphous blob version is probably closer to the Yokai version than the one that we see at the beginning of the film.
Amanda: As you say, Eboshi manages to decapitate the forest spirit as it is transforming into the night walker. It like the body turns into ooze like you were saying like a very shadowy like semi-transparent ooze which has almost like space within it. The forest and the Kodama begin to die as the now nightwalker starts to move everywhere trying to look for its head. There's like a big fleeing scene that people of Irontown evacuating into a lake because the water slows down the nightwalker.
Moro's head also comes alive, of the wolf, and in a wonderful... What is it called when a foreshadowing comes true? I don't know like-
Julia: Dramatic irony.
Amanda: Yeah, dramatic irony of like previous foreshadowing. It bites off Eboshi's right arm as she had said like the head of the wolf still bites when decapitated.
Julia: She said that as a metaphor earlier on in the film and then it legitimately happens.
Amanda: It's wonderful. Eventually, Ashitaka corners Jiko on a hill outside Irontown or what used to be Irontown that's now on fire and convinces him to allow him to return the head. Both Ashitaka and San like raised up the head together, holding each other, it's very sweet and beautiful, and give it to the forest spirit but it's a little bit too late because even though the forest spirit is able to glum the head back by like putting the blob on top of it, the sun has already risen.
As the sun touches it, it dies. It is so sad and so beautiful because the body dissolves into like a golden mist and in this beautiful long static shot, maybe like 30 seconds long, we see the like baron hills, the dust settles over it. It's extremely quiet and then very slowly, the land begins to green again.
Julia: Yeah. There's this wonderful throwaway line that one of the Irontown citizen says where all this is happening and they say, "I didn't know the forest spirit brings flowers." It's like and I'm like it says so much to the movie too because this just like perverse misunderstanding of what nature is, is the reason why Irontown and the forest spirits were at odds this entire time.
Amanda: Yeah. It is so sad because the forest god is dead, no two ways about it. The era of the old gods is over. The forest god is gone but even though, one is going to grow and at the place, it's never going to completely recreate the past. San is like so bereft but Ashitaka says, "The forest god is both life and death," like the forest god exists in life and in death. There's something that remains even though the forest that San is going to live in and the town that Ashitaka stays to help rebuild are not ever going to be the versions that they were before.
Julia: Yeah, no. I think that when Ashitaka decides to return back to Irontown, I felt conflicted and like he's like, "I'm going to help it rebuild but I'll come visit you in the forest," like I don't want this to end in romance because I don't think it needs to be but at the same time, I was just frustrated with what he decides to do with his future after going through all of that.
Amanda: Yeah. Lady Eboshi also says and vows when she reunites with her people who she completely abandoned that she is going to build a better town. I understand how Ashitaka having given up the thing that he was raised to do which is to like steward his town and keep them safe. Maybe he feels this loyalty and wants to have a chance to do that to someone else after having lost that first future for himself that he had envisioned but yeah, I agree with you.
I could see Ashitaka like going back home or continuing to explore and moving on from this town who clearly have learned something hopefully. That's where we are. Then at the very end of the movie, we see the forest beginning to regrow and sure enough, a single Kodama emerges from the undergrowth.
Julia: Because it's going to be healthy again. Everything's going to be okay.
Amanda: That, Julia, is where I started sobbing and cried for about 10 minutes managing only to say do you think the forest friend has a family?
Julia: He will as more trees grow, I'm sure.
Amanda: He will, he will.
Julia: Yeah, this was just I don't know... something about this just hit me in the gut and I think is probably at least partially to do with the Amazon forest has been burning for 16 days as of this recording. I'm just so tired of the world and just like I'm going to take back what I said before about Ashitaka choosing to stay in Irontown and help rebuild it, and that being like a conflicting feelings about that because I think that Miyazaki is making a point to say like humans have their world and nature has theirs, and they shouldn't cross over, interfere as much as they do currently.
Amanda: I sort of saw it like the opposite of the Voldemort prophecy where both can only live while the other survives like there's no humanity without nature. There is certainly was nature without humanity but that the nature, the forest spirits and everyone were like very willing to say like, "Listen. We can live," like, "Just don't come into our territory." Everybody has their territory. Everybody can coexist. We can inform and help each other but it's when you have that like modernity, industrial ambition not just to make what your hands can make and live on what your society needs to live on but to a mass wealth and to try to mechanize war and defense. That really is where things go wrong.
Julia: Yeah where like instead of the manifest destiny, humans need to spread over every part of the land as much as possible and claim it as their own letting the forest be the forest and letting the humans dwell in their own space. I think we agree with each other. I think we're just not wording it the same way that each other does.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah. No but I think that your point about climate grief is so real. There are people way better informed than me to talk about it. My friend, Miriam Nielsen for example, she's a channel on Youtube called Zentouro, Z-E-N-T-O-U-R-O. She is a climate change expert and made a video in January called What is eco anxiety that talking about climate grief about eco anxiety and the real psychological effects of acknowledging climate change.
This is like a huge subject. I didn't know that that was a thing like eco grief, eco feminism like all of these... like climate science is not just science there, it like impacts every part of human beings including our psychology and our sociology. It doesn't make it better but I think having words and hearing others talk about it can help us wrap our minds around the thing that feels too big for any one person to carry.
Julia: Yeah and there're some really interesting things that have been written about religion and the impact of religion on the environment, and how different religious practices can impact conservation efforts and stuff like that. I think that that's like... It's not something I can personally speak on very well off the cuff, you know what I mean but I'm sure that I can link a couple of resources in the show notes about just how religion and how we view the environment through religion can impact the way that we help cultivate it and conserve it.
Amanda: Yeah because on a long enough timeline, humans have always wrestled with the impact of the environment on us. We talk all time, right about how explaining the unexplainable and trying to feel some degree of control over what nature and weather can do to our societies, to our like food security, to our cultures. It's only been very recently that humans have had an effect on the environment to the scale that we do now.
We have not reckoned with that responsibility. We have not dealt with or even acknowledged the hugeness and the anthropological like Anthropocene level reversal that this really represents.
Julia: Yeah, gosh. It's just it's a lot to take in and this movie was a lot to take in. You know what I mean?
Julia: I think that it definitely leaves me asking questions about what I can do and what society can do as a whole about making sure that the environment lasts for a very long time. The environment is going to last long after we're gone.
Amanda: Some kind of an environment, yeah.
Julia: It's going to change but it's like long after humans are long gone, the earth is still going to be the earth.
Amanda: Some of kind of right, maybe not the one we grew up with but something. I think to me, the main takeaway from this movie is that we are all each other's steward and we have an obligation to the place we live, and not just the other way around.
Julia: Yeah and cultivate a world that the Kodama could live in.
Amanda: I love that so much and I love the Kodama and I love this film and I love you.
Julia: I love you too.
Amanda: I love the conspirators. Everyone, try to be a good steward of the environment today. Remember-
Julia: Stay creepy.
Amanda: Stay cool.