Homer, Ovid, Disney and Star Wars: The critical reception and transcultural popularity of Princess Mononoke

Emma Pett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The 1999 theatrical release of Princess Mononoke in the US signalled the moment in which many Western audiences became aware of Hayao Miyazaki’s films for the first time. Princess Mononoke’s early reception in the West was characterised by a focus on the film’s provenance and attendant issues of cultural translation. Across the intervening years, however, there has been a distinct shift in the frames of reference employed by Western critics to discuss the film, and in this respect it functions as significant marker of changing attitudes towards anime in Western contexts of reception. This chapter tracks the evolving status of Princess Mononoke by considering the fluctuating valuations of the film across a nineteen year period. In particular, it explores the ways in which a series of comparisons between Hayao Miyazaki’s film and an eclectic mix of popular and high culture reference points, from classical European epics by Homer and Ovid to Hollywood film franchises like Star Wars, have been employed to localize, frame and valorize the film for Anglophone audiences. These cultural comparisons also reveal an intersection of discourses around genre, audience and industry, as well as reflecting shifting attitudes towards gender identity, race and media violence. Furthermore, by comparing and contrasting news and magazine reviews of Princess Mononoke with those offered by online citizen-critics, this chapter also considers developments and continuities in film reviewing practices across a twenty year period, and reflects on the tensions and overlaps between professional and amateur critics in the digital era.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrincess Mononoke
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding Studio Ghibli's Monster Princess
EditorsRayna Denison
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
ISBN (Print)9781501329746
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2018

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