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Book List: Mononoke Hime (1980)

Princess Mononoke

Story and Art by Hayao MIYAZAKI

Princess Mononoke 1980 cover "Mononoke Hime" (Princess Mononoke) is a 100-page "beauty and the beast" story compiled from imageboards that had apparently been laying around unused since 1980. Most of the large 30 x 30 cm pages of this book contain a single illustration with a caption of dialog on the following page. A good number of illustrations even spill across on to the opposing page. Unfortunately, this layout design would be considerably more impressive if the illustrations didn't have such a rough, unfinished feel to them. Clearly they were not originally intended for public consumption.

This book is an early draft of Miyazaki's 1997 movie of the same name. While there are still a few similarities to the movie, such as an early battle scene with one man against uneven forces and a menacing "Iron Town," neither the book's plot nor the book's characters could possibly be confused with those of the movie. For instance, the two main characters of the book are a big Totoro-shaped mountain lion and a demure but determined girl who only wishes to help her father. The book is also set in a more recent Japanese feudal era than is the movie.
The Story

A defeated soldier in feudal Japan makes faustian deals to keep himself alive and increase his power in the face of an invading army.  The story then follows the soldier's youngest daughter who shrugs off her arranged marriage to a giant humanoid mountain lion and vows to save her father from the evil spirit that possesses his body.
English Translation

No authorized translation has been released. The following is an unofficial English translation by Suma Suzuki and Scott Ryan. You can read the original post here.

Translation Note: This translation has been slightly modified with quote attribution and some picture descriptions to make it understandable to readers who are not in possession of the book. Enjoy.


translation by Suma SUZUKI and Scott Ryan, 1993.


Cover: Giant grinning cat wearing a red vest riding a wheel with a girl on his back. The cat is being pulled by a team of mice, which are reined to his hands.

Page 1: A soldier, whose army had just lost a battle, got separated from the others and lost his way in a forest.

Page 3: After wandering for a long, long time, he saw a light through the trees.

Page 4: It was a house that filled the hollow trunk of an enormous tree. The house seemed to be deserted, but there was a lot of food on hand.

Page 5: He started to eat ravenously. Then, suddenly, the soldier got a spooky feeling.

Page 6: The owner had returned.

Page 7: The entire mountain belonged to a huge mountain lion, and this was his lair.

Page 8: "My food's inside you, but I'm still going to eat it," said the mountain lion.

The soldier begged for mercy. "If you let me live, I'll give you one of my daughters to be your wife."

Page 9: Mononoke {the mountain lion} paused with his knife and thought for a moment. "Only one?" he said. "Hmm, all right."

Page 10: {Picture: Mononoke in strap-on bat wings.}
"Don't forget your promise," said Mononoke after they left his house.

Page 11: "Boy, you're heavy!"
{Picture: Mononoke holding the terrified duke with his hind claws as they glide high above a canyon.}

Page 12: Meanwhile, at the soldier's house....

Page 13: "Don't you know what happened to the duke?" asked the soldier's wife. She was quite angry they had abandoned her husband.

Page 14: When they got to the duke's house, Mononoke dropped him from high in the sky and yelled, "I'll come for your daughter at the next full moon."

"AAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!" replied the soldier.

Page 15: The duke caught on the gable of his biggest roof. The people in the manor were confused and frightened by his sudden appearance. "The duke fell from the sky!" they said to each other in fear.

"How embarrassing," grumbled the duke.

Page 16: The duke came in and told his family all that had happened to him.

Page 17: "You lost the battle, we have to give up our daughter, and the enemy is approaching the border!" yelled his wife. "Could anything possibly be worse?"

For safety, the duchess left for her parents' house with their first and second daughters. Only his kind-hearted third daughter stayed behind to be with him.

Page 18: The duke felt over-whelmed, backed into a corner. The enemy was closing in and so was the night of the full moon. His frustration was interrupted when the gargoyle from the roof came crashing through the ceiling. Amazingly, it began to speak.

"If you lend me your body, I will make you stronger," it said.

The duke readily agreed. His daughter tried to stop him, even without knowing an evil spirit was making the offer, but her father wouldn't listen.

Page 19: In the days that followed, the duke's behavior started changing. He wolfed down large amounts of food and began wearing his ancestor's armor around the house. In the past it had been too heavy for him.

Page 20: The duke faced the enemy single-handedly....

Page 21: He piled up mountains of dead bodies one after another. He was now an unstoppable soldier of death.

Page 22: Slowly, the duke was overtaken by the desire to do away with his third daughter since she knew his secret. This would be easy, thought the spirit. --Mononoke was coming.

Page 23: As promised, Mononoke arrived to fetch the daughter at the next full moon.

Page 24: "You're barely suitable to be Mononoke's wife," hissed the duke insultingly.

Page 25: Mononoke readied to leave, but the daughter still worried about her father. The separation was difficult for her.

Page 26: Mononoke put her on his back and took her to his home, far removed from human habitation.

Page 28: They arrived at his den and prepared food.

"Well, today is our wedding day. Let's celebrate."

"I can't marry you until you save my father from that evil spirit," she said softly.

Page 29: Mononoke became angry at her unbending stubbornness.

Page 30: "If you don't comply, I'm going to eat you up," snapped Mononoke.

{Picture: Mononoke putting lid on caldron with girl inside.}
"Don't come out until you're well done."

Page 31: He waited for her reaction, but heard nothing.

He had tried threatening her, he had tried cheering her up, but she wouldn't budge. Finally Mononoke gave up. "All right, what do you want me to do?" he sighed.

Page 32: "Please help me. And, if we can draw the spirit out, I promise to be your wife.

Mononoke accepted her condition. "Well, that's life," he sighed, "but don't forget your promise."

Page 33: According to legend, beyond the mountains lived a great turtle, who knew many things. Their great quest to rid her father of the evil spirit had begun.

Page 34: Mononoke assumed she'd soon give up, but her will remained strong.

Page 35: It was tiring to have to protect her from the elements, but his feelings for her began to run very deep.

Page 38: They passed through the treacherous canyon of Haunted Mountain. And walked through a forest whose trees had been standing longer than the kingdom had been.

Page 39: At last they found him.

Page 40: The great turtle listened to her story, then spoke. "Evil spirits inhabit people who harbor dangerous ambitions. I can give you an object to suppress the spirit for a short time, but it won't last unless your father has at least some shred of humanity left.

Page 41: "At the bottom of this lake lay many old treasures. The object you need is amongst them," said the great turtle. They dove down to look for it.

Page 42: The object was an ancient bronze mirror, still polished and shining after all this time.

Page 43: After she climbed out, the great turtle gave her a last piece of advice. "Your willpower will be the deciding factor...."

Page 44: They thanked the giant turtle and hurried to her father's home.

Page 45: Meanwhile, the evil spirit could sense the mirror was approaching.

Page 46: She gasped when she saw her old home. The small country manor and its surrounding land had evolved into a monstrous castle. The spirit's power had grown enormous.

Page 48: The clatter of armor and clanking of metal could be heard.

Page 49: The fire from the forge seemed to burn the land.

Page 50: The effects of a harsh government were present everywhere, especially in the faces of the people.

Page 51: Her father sent soldiers to his daughter.

Page 52: But Mononoke fought to protect her from their steel.

Page 53: "Keep your hands off my wife!" he bristled angrily.

Page 54: Gradually, they were overwhelmed by the onslaught of soldiers. Escape over a cliff was their only way out.

Page 55: Even though Mononoke was injured, he continued protecting her.

Page 56: "I won't force you to be my wife any more," mumbled Mononoke. "Why don't we just go home. I've had enough." A close bond had developed between them.

Page 57: After he fell asleep, she quietly took out the mirror.

Page 58: In the moonlight, she saw a boy sleeping in the mirror. It was the true appearance of Mononoke. He seemed to behave like a wild animal.

Page 59: And live like one too. One day he realized he had actually become a wild animal.

Page 60: She now knew his sad tale.

Page 61: "...But I can't keep my promise to you. I'm going back to my father's. Please forgive me."

Page 62: Alone, she entered her father's castle.

Page 63: "Step aside," she commanded. "The duke's daughter has returned from the clutches of Mononoke." The soldiers obeyed her authority without question.

Page 64: The instant Mononoke awoke, he knew she was gone.

Page 65: He raced to the village.

"Have you seen the duke's third daughter?" roared Mononoke.

"T-t-t-t-to the castle," the peasant quivered. "Alone."


Page 66: Mononoke tore to the castle. He had completely forgotten to disguise himself.

Page 67: He leapt over the castle gate and continued in a straight shot, oblivious of the soldiers.

Page 68: Inside the castle, she moved swiftly to face her father. Nothing in her former home was familiar to her.

Page 69: Higher and higher she ventured.

Page 71: At last father and daughter met.

Page 72: "Any girl who would become Mononoke's wife so easily could never stand up to me," sassed her father. "You pathetic insect."

The evil spirit possessed not only his body, but his mind as well.

Page 73: The aura of the demon spirit sent a deep seated fear to the pit of her stomach. She focused her mind elsewhere.

Page 74: "Move it! Get out of the way," Mononoke bellowed. He could sense something awful was going to happen.

Page 75: The spirit stepped forward, wielding a sword. His daughter held up the bronze mirror. In terror, the spirit drew back.

Page 76: She tackled her father and the mirror broke into pieces. The evil spirit fled, for it was not longer anchored to the father.

Page 78: All that remained was a tired, weakened man drained by the evil spirit. She hugged him tightly.

Page 79: The evil spirit fled the father's body and transferred into a nearby suit of armor.

Page 80: It had been sucking the duke's blood to create its own body.

Page 81: Hellfire billowed from the demon's mouth toward father and daughter.

Page 83: At that exact moment, Mononoke jumped in the way.

Page 84: He was engulfed by the full force of the blast, but still stepped forward.

Page 85: Realizing he couldn't win, the demon turned and ran. A flaming Mononoke gave chase.

Page 86: Fire blazed around the two of them as they battled with all their might.

Page 87: Out on the roof, right before her eyes...

Page 88: ...the evil spirit disintegrated with a cry of anguish and Mononoke collapsed into a pile of cinders.

Page 89: She ran to his side and burst into tears. Her brave warrior had traded his own life for her father's.

Page 90: "Don't cry," a voice said. "The great Mononoke would never leave his beautiful wife."
{Picture: Smoldering pile of cinders with cat ears sitting up, one eye open.}

Page 91: They laughed and hugged with tears of happiness rolling down their cheeks.

Page 92: In his daughter's arms, the soldier passed away, but as a human, not as a demon.

Page 93: The people of the surrounding town, who had lived through the oppression of the duke's iron fist, stormed the castle. The gate was smashed and fire spread wildly. The monstrous castle burned to the ground.

Page 94: Mononoke gallivanted back to his mountain lair, his young wife riding happily on his back.

O W A R I   (The End)

The idea for Mononoke has been laying around on image boards (the first step to creating an animated film) since 1980. The studio didn't accept it so it was never animated.

I gave up on the idea for Mononoke, but I still wanted to make a historical story. But whenever I started to work on one, the idea of beauty and the beast kept coming to mind. Since I couldn't make a decent story come together, I decided to focus my attention back on Mononoke.

With the help of STUDIO GHIBLI's producer [Toshio] Suzuki, who agreed to publish this story, and the staff, who formatted my work for this book, the project was realized.

In the earlier versions, Mononoke was going to be changed back into a human, but I decided against it. The story is slotted to be made into a movie starting in 1994 and some changes may be made, but the ending will remain the same.

Page 99: Hayao MIYAZAKI, born in 1941, Tokyo. Animation director. After he graduated from Gakushin University, he started working for Toei Animation Production Company. His most famous work there was "Taiyo no Ouji -Horusu no Daiboken" [Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun]. In 1982, he went freelance and made "Mirai Shounen Konan" [Future Boy Conan], "Rupan Sansei Kariosutoro no Shiro" [Lupin III: Castle Cagliostro], and "Kaze no Tani no Naushika" [Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind] (as director).

In 1985, he co-founded Studio Ghibli. Here he has made such films as "Tenkuu no Shiro Rapyuta" [Laputa: Castle in the Sky], "Tonari no Totoro" [My Neighbor Totoro], "Majo no Takkyuubin" [Witch's Delivery Service, a.k.a. Kiki's Delivery Service], and "Kurenai no Buta" [Crimson Pig a.k.a. Porco Rosso]. Books to his credit are: "Totoro no Sumu Ie" [The House of Totoro, which has photographs of the house and setting used in the Totoro movie], "Hikotei Jidai" [The Era of Flying Ships], and "Zasso Nouto" [Daydream Notebook, a sketch book of ideas and vehicle designs operated by pig soldiers], "Kaze no Tani no Naushika" [manga from which the movie was taken], "Shuna no Tabi" [The Journey of Shuna, a watercolor story done while on hiatus from Nausicaa with a similar setting minus the Sea of Corruption and big insects], and "Toki ni ha Mukashi no Hanashi wo" [Sometime (Let's) Tell Old Stories].

Page 100:

Author - Miyazaki Hayao
© Copyright Nibariki 1993
Publisher - Toshio Suzuki
Published by Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli
1-4-25 Kajinocho
Koganei-shi, Tokyo 184
phone: 0422-53-2881

Book Distributor:

Tokuma Shoten
4-10-1 Shimbashi
Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-55
phone: 03-3433-6231



The name of the main character in this story seems to be "The Third Princess," often shortened to "Third." I felt this posed a couple of problems:

  • If her father was a duke, she wouldn't be a princess by English royalty hierarchy, but translating her title differently would be inconsistent with the title of the book; and
  • "Third" sounds stupid in English as a given name.

Instead of making up a "better" name, I just avoided the issue altogether by only referring to her as "she" or "the daughter." In retrospect, maybe it would have read better if I had just used her Japanese name, "San no Hime" (and "San" for short). ...Nah, that sounds worse, never mind.

-Scott Ryan, 1993

Note: While transcribing this translation from the original mailing list post, minor spelling and grammar changes were made. If you want to read the original post, go here.


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