Chaos of the Deer God

In this final post, I want to look at the Deer God as an agent of chaos.  This seems a little odd at first but when you think about what Derrida was trying to do, perhaps it makes sense. According to Dr. Sara Humphreys, “Derrida sought to reveal that temporal flux and chaos are the common order of the world while static truth and status quo are the anomalies” (Humphreys, 1). Then how can chaos be in one person, you might ask? In class, we were shown the clip of the Joker talking to Two-Face in the hospital and the Joker explains how he is an agent of chaos (this cleared up a lot of how to explain chaos to me and made it make sense). The Joker suggests he “just do[es] things…I show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are”. This is what an agent of chaos really is; he/she is the person who shows those who plan how silly their plans really are. In this case, the Deer god is an agent of chaos.

Now, the Deer god as an agent of chaos may seem a little weird but “animation challenges our expectations of what is ‘normal’ or ‘real,’ bringing up material that may seem more appropriately housed in dreams or unconscious, and this can be a deeply disconcerting process” (Napier, 73). Animation often lives in the world of surrealism, after all where else can you ride a wolf who talks or find a polar bear who does karate in an orange jumpsuit? So the Deer god as an agent of chaos may not seem normal but it does work in the film.

The Deer god is known for giving life and taking life as he sees fit. He may spare some and kill others. This is shown when he heals Ashitaka of his bullet wound yet takes the life of Moro and Okkoto who are known for protecting his forest. The moment he truly shows he is chaos is when Eboshi shoots him through the head, he sinks a little into the water, before continuing walking by. Her plan was to kill him but he showed her it was futile to even bother. Despite the fact that Eboshi does decapitate him as he begins to turn from the Deer god into his other form the Nightwalker; despite this, he continues to move. The world that was once orderly, normal, beautiful has now become erupted into utter chaos. He takes life and gives nothing back. The humans are left running in fear while the forest around them withers and dies. Once the Deer god’s head is returned to him, everyone believes it is too late as he disappears. He proves them all wrong by restoring what he has destroyed and giving back life and healing people. What the humans and the animals were fighting over has been restored to its nearly original state, showing that all they fought for was nothing; he showed all their plans and attempts to control their lives was never in their hands to control to begin with. In the end, San believes, “Even if they grow back, they won’t be the Deer God’s woods. The Deer God is dead” (2:07) but Ashitaka explains, “The Deer God can’t die. He is life itself. Life and death are his to give and take. He’s telling us we should live” (2:07:26). The Deer god before his disappearance shows he can never die and their attempt to kill him was futile as he is life itself. He just wants people to live rather than plan and scheme, allowing for the true order of the world to show itself: chaos.

Author’s Notes

If you want to take a look at the scene I explained with the Joker and Two-Face above check out this clip:


Good and Evil is a Matter of Perspective

“In order for these ordinary values (good/evil, true/false, essence/appearance, inside/outside, etc.) to be in opposition, each of the terms must be simply external to the other, which means that one of these oppositions (the opposition between inside and outside) must already be accredited as the matrix of all possible opposition”

Jacques Derrida, The Pharmakon, 103.

Good and evil is a binary but it is a matter of perspective. Derrida suggests that for ordinary values such as good/evil to be in opposition, they have to be external to one another. Yet in the case of Princess Mononoke, we have no one who is truly evil and no one who is truly good, the forces of good and evil shift back and forth due simply to the perspective of which character’s eyes we are looking through. We always think good should triumphant over evil; that evil should not prevail. This usually happens in movies especially when you have the obvious archetypes of hero and villain. Princess Mononoke does not have the usually hero/villain binary or archetypes thus causing the good/evil binary to break down. All we are left with is a grey area, the systems are broken down, the order has erupted into chaos and nothing is a simple binary anymore.

Ashitaka is supposed to be the protagonist, the hero of the story. He is not your typical hero though as I mentioned in my post before. He acts as a mediator between two sides of the same coin. If he saves anyone, he saves everyone. Eboshi and San are still alive at the end of the story; the men and women of the iron works are alive and able to rebuild; Jiko-bo is alive (the only one who may actually be a antagonist); the forest is alive but the gods are gone although the kodama come back to show the restoration of health to the forest. Ashitaka is only unable to save the gods, Moro, Okkoto, and the Deer god. His intentions are pure thus it could be suggested he is on the side of good and thus the hero. His desire is to be healed by the curse he received from the boar god, and for the forest and the humans to live together in peace. He mentions this twice, once to Moro and once to Eboshi and Jiko-bo: “Can’t humans and the forest live together in peace? Can’t this be stopped?” (1:20:43) “Can’t the forest and the ironworks live together?” (1:45:20). Derrida says repetition orally is important and Ashitaka repeats the question to those who can stop the fighting, who are in charge of leading but neither side is willing to budge in their opinion of the other. Ashitaka strives to take the middle road and push towards peace between everyone as its his only way to save everyone as the hero.

Eboshi, San and Moro are neither good nor evil. The three female characters are only evil to one another because of their intentions. Eboshi wants the land and the forests to burn thus she is an enemy and evil to San and Moro. San and Moro are trying to save the forest and thus see Eboshi as evil. Moro has one more reason to view Eboshi as evil, due to the bullet that Eboshi puts into her. Moro does get her revenge when her head bites off Eboshi’s arm (a little surrealism going on there – a wolf’s head should not move after its body is dead). None of these women are evil, they just want to further their goals. From a viewer’s perspective, we want to view Eboshi as an antagonist because she wants to further, what appears to be a greedy, goal towards expanding the iron works and destroying the forest. In a way, she is an antagonist because she wants this but she does not go into full battle against the forest, the animals and the gods until Jiko-bo arrives. In the end, she sees the error in her ways and says, “We’ll start over again. We’ll build a good village” (2:08:08). She has changed from being an antagonist, to being someone who can be a protagonist. In contrast, San could be considered both an antagonist and a protagonist for many viewers, as she does attempt to kill Eboshi but is stopped by Ashitaka but she also is trying desperately to save the forest and protect the Deer god. She helps Ashitaka give back the head but it is too late. She knows she cannot forgive the humans despite her fondness for Ashitaka. She has started to see the world differently then before. For these three female characters, it is their intentions, their actions, and the decisions of those around them who shape whether they are protagonists, antagonists or something in between.

Jiko-bo is the only character I would call a true antagonist in Princess Mononoke. He befriends Ashitaka to send him to Eboshi; this is probably because Ashitaka “fight[s] like one possessed” (15:46). He wants to use Ashitaka to help Eboshi get rid of the Deer god. From there, he hires all the best hunters and trackers, using the order of the Emperor, to collect the Deer god’s head. Knowing the men he has hired do not have the courage to actually kill a god, he acquires Eboshi’s help. He knows he will be paid greatly by the Emperor for procuring the head of the Deer god which is thought to “confer immortality”. His greed and manipulation skills make him appear evil as he does not appear to have any good intentions for anyone or anything. His last words are, “I give up…you can’t win against fools”(2:08:14). I would like to think he has changed his ways, that he will not be doing things for the Emperor out of greed (who he may now think is a fool).

In the end, good and evil are not really good or evil. The changes that happen in the end of the film suggest that even people who appear to have evil intentions (which from Okkoto and Nago turning into demons suggests hatred is the true evil in the film) can see the world differently and change their intentions, their ideals, and their actions to produce good for all. The only evil is hatred and everyone then is inherently good.


For the GIF above, I asked permission from Studio-GIFs on Tumblr if I could use the GIF. Therefore it does not belong to me but to Studio-GIFs. If you are interested in seeing more awesome GIFs check out:

nursing shorelines

(Note: I don’t like wasting my time trying to write-up quick synopses for my second paragraph, so from now on just look for the quick Wikipedia summary at the beginning every review.)

Synopsis: Princess Mononoke is a period drama set specifically in the late Muromachi period of Japan but with numerous fantastical elements. The story concentrates on involvement of the outsider Ashitaka in the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans of the Iron Town who consume its resources. There can be no clear victory, and the hope is that relationship between humans and nature can be cyclical.

Hayao Miyazaki is a filmmaker who, in my opinion, has never made a bad film. Be it classics like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro or even lesser efforts like Ponyo, all of his films manage to create both lush animated stories that appeal to children…

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Hayao Miyazaki and Jean Giraud/Moebius

I found this interview with Hayao Miyazaki and Jean Giraud/Moebius (a French comic artist) while searching for more Princess Mononoke and Hayao Miyazaki related videos. This interview shows how two artists who are revered in their fields, admire one another and speak of each other.

No Damsel in Distress; No Daring and Dashing Knight-in-Shining Armour

The first binary that most people easily recognize is male and female. It does not take long before you notice that Princess Mononoke is filled with strong characters, especially female characters. The female characters dominate the screen and refuse to be characterized under the stereotypes that go along with women. Rifa-Valls says, “In Miyazaki’s films, there are multiple subjective positions available for women/girls, who defend causes, do jobs, govern microterritories, and form social communities…women forge iron as commanded by Eboshi, who takes on San, the wolf-girl” (Rifa-Valls, 93). Rifa-Valls points out that the women within Princess Mononoke are not in their heteronormative roles (I did not expect for the ideas in queer theory to pop up but I will use them sparsely here for this discussion). Heteronormative roles are roles that are viewed as normal by society based on gender.

San is a princess but also a wolf. She is brave, strong, fearless yet when Ashitaka is injured, she takes care of him and even protects him when the apes and boars want to eat or kill him. She tells Ashitaka, “I’m not afraid to die if it will drive the humans away ” (55:12). Her mission for vengeance against Eboshi and her hatred towards humans, fashions her not as the typical woman but more as a warrior princess but with an animal-like view point. Rifa-Valls says, “San [is] the abject one who carries out vengeance, as a liminal figure who alters femininity and aligns herself with the grotesque and the nonhuman (the animals), the gods, and nature” (94). San has no allegiance to humans nor the normal roles a woman would play in society because of her upbringing by animals and her need to fight against what she views as evil.

San is set off against Eboshi; normally if one woman is strong, the other should be weak but this is not the case. Eboshi is brave, strong, fearless like San and shows her caring side through recruiting prostitutes to work at the iron works and lepers to make guns (those often thought of as outcasts in society). Eboshi chased out the gods and took the land from the gods by leading men in warfare. This shows her as a leader for people to follow. Her ideals of recruiting those society does not want or casts aside, shows perhaps her more nurturing side and perhaps shows her only feminine quality as she cares deeply  for her female followers. Yet once, she has given the women the tools they need to protect themselves and the iron works, she leaves them to it. She tells Jiko-bo, “I’ve done all I can for the women. They can defend themselves” (1:45:30). I believe she tells Jiko-bo this because she has empowered Toki and the other women, done all she could to teach them how to fire a rifle, and now has a job that only she can do (kill a god).

In between these two strong females is Ashitaka. He is a prince and a warrior, and an outcast from his home due to his curse. He embodies the quiet warrior on a quest for answers, but instead of planning (except to find San several times), he simply acts on what happens around him. He is not exactly your typical heteronormative male role model as he has to be saved as well, not his soul or from his emotions, but physically. He saved San from Eboshi and in returns becomes injured, she saves him by taking him to the Deer god for healing. He is saved from death physically but it does not change his personality, only makes his convictions and opinions stronger. Ashitaka acts as a mediator between Eboshi and San, as he wants to “see with eyes unclouded by hate” and does so. He does not take either side of the war. He simply does what he thinks is right, whether that is helping the iron works or helping the wolves. He is not your typical hero who picks a side, fights on the side of good and wins the battle, the girl and a happy ending (this is not a Disney movie after all). Ashitaka does not win the battle in the typical way; he gives back the Deer god/Nightwalker his head but it is too late and the god disappears although he restores the forest. Ashitaka does not end up with San in the end as she still hates humans but she is willing to try to be his friend. This leaves the ending ambiguous as we never know whether there is a happy ending, whether the humans continue to destroy the forest, whether the samurai fight the iron works again; we simply do not have an obvious happy ending, it is a beginning.

The War Between Animal and Human

“Now she cannot be human, and she cannot be wolf. My poor, ugly, lovely daughter” (English subtitles)

“Now, my poor, ugly, beautiful daughter is neither human nor wolf” (English dubbed)

Moro to Ashitaka; 1 hour 20 minutes

Moro brings to Ashitaka’s attention what she thinks of her daughter by offering up two pairs of binaries: ugly and lovely/beautiful, and human/wolf. To Moro, San is ugly because she is human but she is also lovely because she thinks and acts like a wolf but most importantly, she is Moro’s daughter. Thus San herself is a binary as both human and wolf but her identity is constantly in flux. She constantly moves between being a wolf and wanting to hurt Eboshi for what she is doing to the land to being human, where she has to help Ashitaka give the Deer God’s head back. San is always human in body but it is her mind that sees the world through wolf eyes, through animal eyes.  This is an archetype, western audiences are familiar with as we have grown up with the idea of Tarzan or Mowgli from The Jungle Book. Mowgli, like San, is human but grew up with wolves who are not gods and thus speaks wolf and other animal languages he has learned. From what we are given in, Princess Mononoke, San speaks in a human tongue like the wolves and boars as Ashitaka is able to understand everyone easily.

Throughout the film, the animals are intelligent and in this way, appear human-like despite being in the shape of animals. Okkoto says, “Look on my tribe, Moro. We grow small, and we grow stupid. To go on in this manner is to end as game the humans hunt for meat” (1:10). Okkoto is pointing out that the gods of the forests as the offspring continue to be born, they become more and more animal and less human, less worthy of being gods. As gods, Moro and her wolf sons, and Okkoto and his boar tribe, are much like San, neither animal nor human. They take the shape of animals but are smart like humans, revered or feared in some aspects as gods. Animals talking is once again, nothing new to audiences. Most of us as children have watched some kind of animal talk and show human-like intelligence in movies such as the multitude of Disney films we all know and love.

Okkoto’s quote also points to a change that is happening that the gods of the forest did not expect to happen. They planned on being gods, to protect the forests and keep the humans from destroying nature but this did not happen. They are still protecting the forest but they are becoming more and more animal, and in the case of the boars, something for the humans to hunt. They are no longer gods but animals, and unneeded in the opinion of the humans.

The binary of animal/human (or other/human) is played on heavily in the film. This allows events outside of those on either side has planned to take place. This leads from the nature versus progress, animal versus humans to the war of the boars against the humans. The boars and Okkoto keep moving forward even as others are killed. Okkoto manages to survive, thanks to San, but his hate and anger towards the humans allows his body to start to take the form of a demon like Nago before him. This hate makes Okkoto become something he never intended; he believed himself strong like Moro (who despite the human bullet in her does not become a demon) yet the destruction of his tribe by the humans and their sudden reappearance (men in their skins) causes the change. This is chaos, it was not planned, it was not foreseen. The hunters had a plan but could not plan for Okkoto’s hatred turning him into a demon. The supposedly order of the plans of others were disrupted by hatred and Okkoto turning  into a demon. Due to plans being disrupted, more events unravel for various characters which they were not expecting; San is knocked unconscious and nearly consumed by Okkoto’s hatred, Moro saving her strength for Eboshi now must save her daughter, and the Deer god takes Moro and Okkoto’s life. Nothing goes as planned for anyone at this point but Eboshi who manages to get the head of the Deer god for Jiko-bo and the Emperor.

The role of animal/human interactions, especially the after effects of the war regarding Okkoto and those around him, force events to spiral out of control, leading to chaos.


Princess Mononoke ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

note: these pictures belong to their authors (who is not me) and I only pay my humble respect to them. I try to put their true home beside, but if I dont have it just drag any of the pictures to google/search. And I re-upload some of them, just in case of instability of Internet these days (remember MU – I wonder how many tb of actually precious info was lost)..

FanArt ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

^final by Noukah                                                                                ^colored by DarkKenjie

^Because We live uploaded by yummei

^Princess Mononoke submitted by Okami Amaterasu       ^Fan Art by Kerko


^home of last 5 pics including this one                 ^home

Cosplay ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

^picture by meanlilkitty

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Introducing Mononoke-Hime and Nature/Progress

The last post discussed subbed versus dubbed and talked about the literary concepts attached to it which I hope helped you better understand the fans perspective and a literary perspective. What I plan on discussing and looking into for the next several posts are binaries, chaos, and temporal flux in Princess Mononoke. I know many of my fellow classmates have not watched the movie and probably never will, but I felt that a small synopsis and the trailer would help others understand perhaps what I am talking about.

So your major characters are:

Ashitaka – prince of a village far to the east and a brave warrior; exiled to find a cure for his curse by a demon.

Yakul – Ashitaka’s red elk whom he rides like a horse.

San – fondly known as princess mononoke. A girl raised by the Wolf god in the forest of the Deer god.

Eboshi – a woman who removed the boar god Nago by turning him into the demon Ashitaka encounters; she is a strong woman who brings women in to work in the ironworks.

Moro – Wolf god in the forest of the Deer god. San’s mother.

Deer god – He has two forms: deer god and nightwalker. He gives life and takes life as he pleases.

Okkoto – blind boar god who after battling the humans begins to turn into a demon

Kodama – the little forest spirits who show when a forest is healthy.

Jiko-bo/Jigo – he is a monk with an agenda to kill the Deer god for the emperor

Toki – a former prostitute, leader of Eboshi’s women, works at the ironworks

Gonza – Eboshi’s bodyguard

Kohraku – Toki’s husband

For more in-depth explanation of the characters you can always look here: or have an interesting look at the official website

The first major theme that is played with throughout the film and is shown in both trailers is the binary or opposition of nature versus progress/humanity. Nature is portrayed in a beautiful way by Miyazaki. The scenery throughout the film takes centre stage; the rushing river where Ashitaka meets Moro and San for the first time, the quiet sacred grounds of the forest, and the dying land near the iron works town. In “Postwar Princesses, Young Apprentices, and a Little-Fish Girl”, Montserrat Rifa-Valls suggests, “As well as vertical traveling, the glides of the camera narrating scenes in the forest generate reflexiveness and mystery, even fear” (Rifa-Valls, 95).  The lush green forest and land is shown to be healthy by the kodama who show up again. The apes are the ones who plant the trees, the boars and the wolves protect the forests on various mountains, and the Deer god is the heart of the forest; he takes life and gives life, and he embodies the very heart of the forest. The forest is fighting, rising up, to preserve itself from the onslaught of human development. The humans, Eboshi and the samurai, want the land because it is rich in resources such as iron. The humans cut down the trees, chase the animals out, and defile the land by extracting the resources out of it. The humans are moving forward with progress, economy, and industry. The humans (excluding Ashitaka) in the film have lost their belief and need of gods. The only thing that splits up the nature versus humanity is the chaos of the samurai fighting the villagers when Ashitaka moves through and the samurai attacking the iron works with Toki, the women, and the lepers. For these two instances show humanity against humanity. It stands out in juxtapose against the conflict between nature/the forest gods and humans. Those two moments add to the chaos that surrounds the conflict, the wars, that underscores the film.

Dubbed or Subbed: Oral or Written?

For any fan of anime, there is always the debate over dubbed or subbed. Dubbed, if you are not familiar with the terms, is when the English voice actors talk in the place of the Japanese voice actors. Subbed simply means that the language spoken is the original language but the subtitles along the bottom are in the language you can read in (in my case again English). Most fans first started in the world of dubbed because that was what was on television (I go back to watch Sailor Moon in English and I cringe at Serena/Usagi’s voice as an adult). As my niece is learning from watching anime with me, the world of subbed is quite different. Fans argue back and forth which is better. I would suggest that it is more of a preference not to just of the person but the anime as well. Some people can only watch a certain show in dubbed, others only in subbed, while others cannot stand dubbed period and do not even try it. Lindsey mentions much the same here: There are shows that I have watched half in dubbed and switched to subbed (when an anime is over 560 episodes, the dubbing of all episodes is a nearly impossible feat).

Another thing to point out with dubbed is that it can often be re-dubbed. For instance, the company 4kids has dubbed animes and often edited content to appeal to a younger audience and thus, the fans of that show are not usually satisfied with the changes and this leads to other companies such as Funimation to re-dub the content so the original artwork is in place and it is closer to the original translation. A problem with subtitles also appears; whether it is officially subtitled, fan-subtitled (and for this by what group) and in what language. As Japanese is a complex language of characters, it often makes it difficult to translate into the English language as one kanji can be a word or even a sentence.  Official translations on DVDs are often literal translations and the closest translation possible. Fan-subtitles happen as there are no official translations done and should come with a buyer beware type of notice. As I mentioned before, kanji can be a word or even a sentence thus the translation of it can make a sentence slightly different when translated. Thus, there are a variety of meanings so translations can be varied. An article related to character voices and anime subtitles is Peter Howell’s “Character Voice in Anime Subtitles”.

So how is this related to narrative and Derrida?

I believe the better question is: what do we give more importance to in our personal lives: the oral or the written? In today’s society, we often give more credence to the written word as we are breed as academics with reading everything in our own heads, it is a personal private experience and thus we appear to pay more attention to it then the oral.

Then how do you explain how fans begin to learn Japanese through watching subbed animes? As we are trained to listen to what is going on orally (sometimes). When we are talking to friends, listening to professors, or watching something, we are taught to listen because orally there is information we need. This is one time, we are listening to the language and reading the subtitles. Usually we pay attention to subtitles because they hold vital information in some shape or form. Yet when all you have is subtitles, you must pay attention to them but over time, as you continue to listen to a language that is not your native tongue or one you have learned at any point, you begin to notice phrases and words. To learn more on the increase of Japanese literacy, Natsuki  Fukunaga’s “Those Anime Students” can be found here So what if you are watching anime in English and still have the subtitles or in this case closed caption on, what do we give more credence to? In my opinion, if it is something you do all the time, you take in both the written and the oral; we often notice if the words on the screen say something entirely different then what is being said.

Oral or written? Both are important. Both are needed for us to learn and understand. We cannot have one without the other.

Japanese Annotations

Kanji is the modern Japanese writing system along with hiragana, and katakana.

Hiragana is a Japanese component of the writing system.  It has character sets and represents one sound in the language. It is used for native words for which there are no kanji for as well as obscure kanji, not known by the writer/readers or is too formal for the writing purposes.

Katakana is similar to hiragana but is used to break down more complex kanji. It is primarily used for transcription of foreign language words into Japanese. This often used for other people’s names that are not Japanese. For instance, my name broken down and translated is Ji yo di  in romaji.

Konnichiwa Minna-san!

This blog is a final project that I am completing for Critical Approaches to Literature at Trent University in Oshawa. Throughout this blog, I will be analyzing, interpreting and deconstructing Princess Mononoke (in japanese Mononoke-Hime). I will be using the theory of deconstruction to do this over the next several weeks. If I have fun with it, I may continue to analyze other works from Studio Ghibli that were created by the mastermind Hayao Miyazaki.

So what is deconstruction? The theory was first created by Jacques Derrida, though he has no idea it is now called deconstruction, to thing outside of structuralism or go beyond it. He focused on binaries which when stripping down sign systems reveal the truth (and I do not mean binary code); I mean black/white, dirty/clean, male/female, etc. From there, he attempted to reveal that “temporal flux and chaos are the common order of the world” (Humphreys, 1). This is the only the basic idea of Derrida’s theory but it is a starting point for us to work with.

So why deconstruction? I will not say because it is easy because it is not. Derrida is complicated and I am still just learning the theory myself but binaries are the one thing that is easy to see at first despite the fact I tend to see in shades of grey (and no not fifty) instead of black and white. We can see war versus peace, nature versus man; even when we do not want to. Temporal flux and chaos are normal in the world and I wanted to explore this just a bit further. I find it fascinating to think that the static truths and status quos are the anomalies in the world while chaos is the order of the world.

But why Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke? I prefer to ask why not but that is kind of cheating. I grew up in the 1990s, that usually tips people off right there as to why I chose japanese animation, but I grew up watching Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing and many other shows that were japanese animation, otherwise known as anime. I have not stopped watching anime and continue to watch it when I need an escape from that pile of looming projects, essays and assignments awaiting to be done. I also attend anime conventions in Canada so most would call me an “otaku” but I rather do not like the connotations it has when used in Japan thus I refuse to referred as such. I still have not explained why, gomennasai. I choose Princess Mononoke after considering it against Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle (if you have not seen these three movies, I highly recommend them). I could see the ability to use deconstruction throughout the movie while watching it and the despite Howl’s Moving Castle had the same, I am more familiar with Princess Mononoke. I first became acquinated with the movie when my sister (who is 10 years my senior) watched it for an environmental geography university class when she attended Queen’s. She has no love for animation but the film stuck with me (obviously). Either way, I love the film and it just made sense to look at it from deconstruction.

I do promise to keep the Japanese romanji words to a minimum but I did take Japanese in Grade 11 so I do have some working knowledge of the language (and nearly 15 years or so of watching anime in Japanese). I will at the end of each post provide a kind of dictionary if I have used any Japanese romanji words and give an explanation when possible.

Japanese to English Dictionary and Explanation

Konnichiwa means hello (if this was a phone I would say mushi-mushi when I answered, if it is evening we say konbanwa meaning good evening).

Minna-san needs to be broken down a little as it is two things. Minna is everyone or everybody in the context I have used it in. -san is a honourfic placed on names in Japan, it is a sign of respect and often shows relationships and status. -san is your basic or general prefix used between equals of any age but there is also -chan (used for endearment but often used for babies, young children, grandparents and teenage girls but can also be used for cute animals, lovers, close friends, any youthful woman or between friends), -bo (used for babies and young children but only for boys), -kun (used by persons of senior status in addressing or referring to those of junior status as well as addressing male children or teenagers and male friends but can be used for females as well as by females when they have known the male for a long time or have an emotional attachment to), -sama (is the more respectful version of san and is used mainly to refer to people much higher in rank than oneself, toward a customer and someone a person greatly admires), -senpai (used to refer to one’s senior colleagues in a school, a dojo, or sports team), -sensei (used to refer to or address teachers, doctors, politicians, lawyers and other authority figures as well is used to show respect to those who have achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill), and -hakase (this is for my professor Dr. Sara’s benefit as this is the honourific she would be known as, as it addresses a person with very high academic expertise and translates as doctor but closer to professor).

Hime is princess.

Anime is japanese animation or “cartoons” (but do not call it a cartoon to an anime fan they usually take offence). Manga is

Otaku is in English meant to refer to an obsessive fan of anime/manga and/or Japanese culture generally, and Japanese video games. In Japan, it is slang for geek and relates to a fan of any particular theme, topic, hobby or any form of entertainment. I will also add there are negative connotations with the word otaku in Japan due to a few incidents of crime against otakus or due to otaku culture. This has also caused many who know about the negative connotations in English not to want to be referred to as such. Otakus is a similar label as trekkie, fanboy/girl, and brony (please do not ask about the last one as I will rant).

Gomennasai means I beg your pardon, excuse me; it is a kind of way to apologize or say sorry.

Ja ne is an informal way of saying see you.

Ja ne minna-san!