What I Learned From The Wolf Girl

It’s a quiet moment in the forest. Prince Ashitaka, the protagonist, lays unconscious, half-submerged in water. Hooves approach him and flowers spring around the steps. What appears to be a deer wakes him up. But it’s not a deer. Its face is more human than animal. This is the introduction of the forest god.

There are a million reasons I love Princess Mononoke: from the animation style, music, pacing, the untold love story that lies beneath the plot. But what I think has inspired me the most in my writing is the magical atmosphere flows so effortlessly from one scene to the next.  I like writing about things that aren’t real but are concrete in my imagination. Princess Mononoke has showed me how to build a world that has its own logic, that is fantastical yet is so grounded. A world with forest spirits and cursed boars doesn’t sound so unlikely.

Princess Mononoke uses the world around it to build up to a universal conflict: man vs. nature. What happens when industrial progress means the death of living things around it? It’s inspired my own writing. I want to write about universal themes and feelings without the backdrop of the “real” world. You don’t have to understand the world to feel the message it’s trying to portray.

Imagery is the reason that Princess Mononoke is so memorable. I don’t mean the animation itself, although Miyazaki is able to animate such breathtaking and beautiful details. I mean what each line comes to represent. The boar bleeding black tar. The girl who rides wolves in the dark of night. The prince who rides an elk and is quick with his arrows. The forest deity with the bizarre face yet serene nature. These are images that have stayed with me since the first time I saw the movie at fourteen. To create imagery that lingers in a reader’s head is a goal of mine. I want people to read my work and have the world that I build stay in their mind.

Overall, I aspire to create worlds and stories like Hayao Miyazaki. The imagination that are in these movies is inspiring. But Princess Mononoke is my favorite film and is the one that I draw the most inspiration from because it is able to cover these fantastical themes and doesn’t shy away from the violence that occurs when two different worlds clash. These images burned into me and come out through my words.