Princess Mononoke ★★★★★

This is by far one of Miyazaki's most traditional examples of an 'epic adventure' because everything about it -- from the messages to the masterful storyboards -- is precisely grand. It nods to a recurring Ghibli theme which is the human v nature element, but what's interesting about Mononoke is that there is no good side and bad side. There's an underlying morality that lies in all tribes, each of them fighting for their share of an emerging order, to protect their people and land.

The inventiveness here is more than remarkable. Like Spirited's bath monster-turned-river god, Mononoke provides us with a whole valley of forest creatures and gods, each of them is given meaning to their existence -- a purpose that makes them what they are. From the protective boars to those rattling little head people that refuge in "healthy forests". Miyazaki always manages to stun us with glorious stills, each pixel deriving from millions of pencil strokes and dedication. There's humanism in his craft, the characters are unafraid of death, they teach us to make do with what life has written for us.

If anything, Mononoke flourishes in establishing a powerful young love. San and Ashitaka understand that neither of them can lead the life of the other, they accept this fact, grant each other freedom, and agree to meet whenever they can. This was a brilliant, spiritual adventure and I kinda expected that.

+ Lady Eboshi is an all-time badass ... and animation once again proves itself to be the best cinematic genre when crafted with heart and passion.