Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime) is an animated feature film that was created by Japanese anime film master, Hayao Miyazaki. It was released in Japan in 1997, but did not find its fame in the United States until 1999. Princess Mononoke has since become the third most popular movie in Japan, right below Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, two animated movies that were also created by Hayao Miyazaki. It has a reputation for being "The Star Wars of animated features" and has become an icon in anime cinema.
Princess Mononoke is the story of Ashitaka, the last Emishi prince. During a battle to save his village, Ashitaka kills what he believes to be a demon. The "demon" was not really a demon after all, but was the Boar God Nago who had been put under a spell. Because he killed the God, Ashitaka winds up with a “demon mark” on his right arm, which can give him strength and skill, but will kill him if it is not stopped before it spreads over his entire body. Ashitaka, determined to stop the curse from killing him, leaves his village on a quest to discover how to rid himself of the curse.
Along the way he meets a girl named San, who is known as Princess Mononoke, which translates to Princess of the Spirits. San was raised by wolves and despises humans, including Ashitaka, and is in the middle of a war with a town called Irontown and a powerful lord named Asano. Ashitaka spends some time with San and her adopted family in the forest and falls in love with San. He also sees the leader of Irontown, Lady Eboshi, as a kind human being who is only trying to do her best. Ashitaka tries to act as a mediator between the two of them, but it does not work.
Eventually a huge war erupts between Irontown, Asano, who is trying to control Irontown, and the forest. Shishigami, the Great Forest Spirit, comes into the battle in order to try to stop the forest from being destroyed and ends up destroying much of it, and Irontown, himself.
The story is set in what is known as the Muromachi period, which is what Japanese scholars call the time between the medieval period and the early modern period. In this time period, animals are seen as bigger and more intelligent, while people were starting to spread out and were destroying nature in the process.