Maisy ❤ March 2015

reading time: ca. 2 min

A little late because i was on a hiking trip over the weekend, but here it is! Finally, i actually read something again!! AND wrote another short story but that's a whole nother story. This is why i love semester break...

Read: Dance of the Happy Shades: And Other Stories (Alice Munro)

This wonderful book with its beautiful cover marks the beginning of Alice Munro's writing career. First off, I'm not a lover of short fiction per se because I prefer to completely dive into a story for hundreds of pages instead of having to realign with each new short story, BUT! This short story collection has actually attracted my interest, especially my literary interest because her language and her imagery are beautiful. My favourite stories are probably Walker Brothers Cowboy, Boys and Girls, Images, The Office, and Trip to the Coast.

The stories - and that is what fascinated me most - all take place in a dreamy, half-familiar, half-strange small town place that is caught between dream and reality. The context for many of these stories is beautifully encapsulated in these lines from Munro's story The Peace of Utrecht:

»the whole town, its rudimentary pattern of streets and its bare trees and muddy yards just free of the snow… dirt roads where the lights of cars appeared, jolting towards the town, under an immense pale wash of sky.«

And yet this apparently mean, pinched, old-fashioned setting provides Munro with the framework she needs to explore wide themes: love and sex, family relationships, class tensions, growing up and growing old. Reading these short stories, these fragments of ordinary everyday life made me both nostalgic and sad. It is as Forrest Gump said »like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.« Both sweet and bittersweet.

Watched: Princess Mononoke (1997)

source: wikipedia
This is one of my favourite animes (as you can tell since i ranked it in third place on my Anime 101 list last year, nearly making it to the very top of the list), and i was thrilled to see it on TV last month. Man, i've watched and read this anime so many times now, i don't even know how many times. And one thing i remember very clearly from my childhood is that my grandma had the manga novels of Princess Mononoke lying around in her flat, and i always wanted to read them when i came to her place (because they were like comics and i loved comics, and because there were wolves and wild boars and stags and animal gods in it!), but i was never allowed to because my Dad said this was only for adults. Which made me want to read it even more! But i didn't dare. So mean though! But from today's perspective i definitely see why this is not for young kids...

The Plot:
Prince Ashitaka, the last prince from an Emishi tribe (who rides on a red antilope elk, how awesome is that?), defends his village against an attacking monster that turns out to be a wrathful, rampaging boar-god/demon. While protecting his people from the demon, Ashitaka manages to kill the boar, but is stricken by a deadly curse fromt he demon's fleshy "tentacles" (that have always freaked me out!). To save his life, he must journey to the forests of the west and search for the cause of the boar's rage that turned him into a demon. Once there, he's embroiled in a fierce campaign that humans were waging on the forest. The ambitious Lady Eboshi and her loyal clan use their guns against the gods of the forest and a brave young woman, Princess Mononoke, who was raised by a wolf-god (and rides on wild white wolves, how frickin awesome is that?!). When Ashitaka meets both Lady Eboshi and the wolf princess San/Mononoke, he is caught between the two sides and must decide between fighting for humans and fighting for animals nature.

The Message:
In destroying our environment, we destroy ourselves.

There are several aspects of Princess Mononoke that i love about this film. Firstly, i love its evocating message, showing how we humans are responsible for turning nature into something evil and broken by pushing forward the industrial evolution by expense of nature and natural resources around us (Eboshi's intention to destroy the forest to mine the mountain embodies environmentalist evil in this case).

Secondly, the characters.
Of course my favourite character was the eponymous Princess Mononoke, the girl raised by wolves (dream life!), who appears to be tough, fierce, animal loving, nature loving, beautiful, brave and strong. A girl who has her heart in the right place. (I even went as Mononoke for Halloween one year!) 
However, i also adored Prince Ashitaka who isn't a stereotypical loud, shiny war hero, but rather quiet, introverted, melancholic and noble in his own calm but also quick-tempered way. As i put it in my Anime 101: "He's not your usual roaring hero, but earnest, noble and pretty handsome" ;)
Oh, and what i probably love most about this film is that the two, Ashitaka and San/Mononoke, don't end up together! (spoiler, whoops.) This was totally contrary to my expectations, but i actually really like the loving bond between the two. Instead of ending with a passionate kiss or a romantic night, the tension is maintained by only indicating their feelings for each other. Such as in this adorable embrace after an emotional conversation:

source: galleryhip
source: deviantart

Also, did you notice the similarity between Princess Mononoke and Avatar Korra? Two tough girls/women on wild white beasts, fighting for balance of nature, spirits and humans. I thought this was quite funny :) Mononoke is way cooler though, just sayin...

In summing up, Princess Mononoke is not a movie for children below the age of 12. There is blood and violence and some slightly disturbing images. It is a great full-length feature movie with adventure, epic but also brutal fighting scenes, mythical creatures, comical moments, and strong characters. What more can you ask for? Even my boyfriend, who doesn't care two figs about animes and mangas, really enjoyed this masterpiece by Hayao Miyazaki!

Maisy rates: 9/10

Listened toHero (Family of the Year)

Other songs that i listened to this year so far:  

Lover On The Sun by David Guetta ft. Sam Martin
Hold Back The River by James Bay
Outside by Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding 
Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding (and no, i haven't watched 50 Shades of Grey, and i don't plan to)
Wolke 4 (Cloud 4) by Philipp Dittberner & Marv
Unendliche Schönheit (Infinite Beauty) by Ganjaman (preparing for the Reggae Jam Festival in Germany this year :) even though i have no clue of reggae, but some of my closest friends are going, and i really love camping, haha!)


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