Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
The Art of Princess Mononoke is a book originally released in Japan. The book was translated by Mark Schilling and it was released in the United States in 1999.
The Art of Princess Mononoke opens with an introduction by Mark Schilling, which gives a brief overview of the history of Studio Ghibli, and then talks quite a bit about the film Princess Mononoke. This is followed by a series of poems written by Hayao Miyazaki, the director of the film. Of course, what we see in the English version of the book are versions of the poems that are translated into English. The poems are about San, Ashitaka, the people of Irontown, the Demon God, Moro the Wolf God, Lady Eboshi, Kodama, Yakkuru, and the Forest of the Deer God. This section of the book ends with an introduction to the film written by Hayao Miyazaki (which has been translated into English).
The bulk of the book is dedicated to production art and stills from the film, and is included in the book in chronological order. This section is broken up into four sections: "The Curse of the Demon God," "The Tatara Clan of Ironworkers," "The Forest Dwelling of the Deer God," and "The Pitched Battle Between the Humans and the Animal Gods."
The art in the book is very beautiful and well-done, but sometimes it was hard to follow which captions went with which pictures, since the captions were not put directly underneath their corresponding pictures. In some instances, captions weren't included for some of the included images. The issue with the captions made it harder to figure out what some of the images are supposed to be.
Next, the book talks about the computer graphics used in Princess Mononoke. This section talks about making three-dimensional images with computer graphics, morfing, multiplayer compositing with advanced digital graphics, and attempts at digital painting. For me, as a casual reader, while the information was informative, I didn't entirely understand what was being talked about. This section of the book is probably best for readers who are interested in computer graphics and computer animation.
This is followed by a section showing Hayao Miyazaki's layout drawings. All of the drawings included are from the film's final scene. There's no text explaining what is being seen, so as a reader, all you can really do is look at the pictures and examine them. The back of the book includes a listing of the staff and cast for Princess Mononoke, a Studio Ghibli filmography, and remarks made by Toshio Suzuki (President of Studio Ghibli) at the 1995 ANNECY International Animated Film Festival.
While The Art of Princess Mononoke is an interesting book, I definitely wouldn't recommend it for casual reading. I would personally recommend it to people who are fans of the film, fans of Studio Ghibli's works, and aspiring animators.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of this book through the King County Library System.