Princess Mononoke

Inciting Event: This is one of the few instances when we actually do see the Inciting Event in the opening scene (rather halfway through the First Act at the 12%). Prince Ashitaka’s village is attached by the demon boar—and he is mortally infected. What does happen at the 12% mark is a turning point and, more properly, the Key Event, in which the protagonist leaves behind the Normal World. Note, however, that he, quite properly, doesn’t enter the “adventure world” for another fifteen minutes until the end of the First Act.

First Plot Point: After an eventful second half of the First Act (in which he rescues workers who were attached by wolves, journeys through the magical forest, and catches his first glimpse of the wolf girl San), Ashitaka finally steps all the way through the doorway between acts when he arrives at Lady Eboshi’s Iron Town. Although the forest is more properly the story’s “adventure world,” it is in Iron Town that Ashitaka fully engages with the story’s main conflict: the war between the forest and Lady Eboshi (whose wounding shot ignited the boar’s rage and turned him into a demon).

First Pinch Point: San attacks Iron Town in an attempt to kill Lady Eboshi—who, in turn, lays a trap for her. Ashitaka, utilizing the strength of the demon that infests him, stops them from killing each other and walks out of the fortress, even after being shot.

Ashitaka is the impact character—who carries the story’s Truth of peace into the heart of the conflict between San and Lady Eboshi. As such, he has antagonistic forces coming at him from both sides here (as well as from physically within). This scene dramatically turns the plot by moving Ashitaka from Iron Town to the forest, where San tends his wounds.

Midpoint: The Spirit of the Forest heals Ashitaka’s wound, but does not remove the demon. There are lots of revelations going on here, as the boars arrive and argue with the wolves, announcing their intent to do battle with the humans for good and all.

Second Pinch Point: The boars attack Lady Eboshi’s forces (she has thrown in with the monk Jigo, who wants to sell the Spirit of the Forest’s head to the dying emperor), and it is a mutual slaughter. San and her wolf brothers join in.

I love how huge this pinch point is. Often, the pinch points can be smaller scenes that get lost in the shuffle, but this is a massive moment in every sense of the word.

Third Plot Point: Ashitaka pursues San and discovers that the demon of hate has taken over another boar—and that San is being overtaken by it as well, due to her proximity. Since the worst thing that could happen to everyone is another demon and the worst thing that could happen to Ashitaka personally is losing his new love San, this is a strong (and visually striking) Third Plot Point.

Climax: Lady Eboshi shoots off the Spirit of the Forest’s head, and the headless Spirit turns to black ooze that kills everything it touches. Ashitaka and San race to retrieve the head and return it to the Spirit before he reaches Iron Town.

Climactic Moment: The Spirit reclaims his head and falls down in death, healing everything he touches—including Ashitaka’s demon infection.

Resolution: San returns to the forest and Ashitaka returns to Iron Town to help them rebuild—but they promise to see one another.

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