A film like this difficult to import, thanks to the cultural differences between Japan and the U.S. Lots of work was done to make the script understandable to American audiences; what's not necessary to explain in Japan might be necessary to explain in the U.S. This means the dialogue is not a direct translation. Sometimes this can work against the movie, like the bad dubbing script for Akira (the subtitled tape I have is much better). But Mononoke's script is good, and if ever there was dubbing that was top-notch, it's in this movie. (Kiki is also very well dubbed.) But dubbing is dubbing. Hearing a character say, "Forest God! We give you back your head!" is just funny no matter how it's said. If I'd just been reading it in subtitles while the original voices spoke on-screen, the cultural gap might not have been so silly—reading a translation like that is different from hearing a character come right out and say it. The audience laughed several times at things that were not meant to be funny. Sometimes, I understood why, like the head line, while other times I was cringing at what seemed to be a lack of openness to another culture's visions, like the strange human face of the Forest God. (Or maybe I was cringing to fight back my own smirking reaction to that face.) Either way, it's distracting and takes you out of the movie.
The Dumbing Down of the American Moviegoer, Ctd.
Sumitted without comment. This review of Princess Mononoke was written in 1999, at the time of its theatrical release in the United States: