Miyazaki was already a culture hero in Japan when this animated mythic adventure raised him to a status approaching living national treasure. The young warrior Ashitaka is infected by poison while saving his village from a demonic giant boar; he rides his elk to the west (where the boar came from) in the hope of finding a cure. He stumbles into a three-way battle between a woman chieftain in a fortified encampment (built to protect the secret of smelting iron from ore), a clan of samurai eager to take control of the iron - and the creatures (chiefly wolves and boars) of the surrounding forest, enraged by all the human damage to their natural habitat. Fighting on the side of the animals is Mononoke, a girl raised by the wolves, who hates and distrusts all humans, including Ashitaka. The samurai are pretty unredeemed, but Miyazaki insists that there are things to be said for both the Iron Age settlers and the animals and their deities: rather than a Lord of the Rings-style showdown between good and evil, this argues for peaceful co-existence. Superbly imagined and visually sumptuous, it's let down only by Hisaishi's sub-Miklos Rosza score. (An uncut English language dub also exists, with dialogue by Neil Gaiman and a voice cast including Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver and Billy Bob Thornton.