Eboshi and her ishibiya troops are responsible for the cursed iron bullet in Nago which eventually affects Ashitaka. She shoots the Shishigami's head off, causing it to turn into a God of death and sending forth a dark liquid that kills anything it touches. The liquid falls on Moro's body, separating her head from the body. After Eboshi throws the Shishigami's head to Jigo, Moro's head resurrects long enough to bite off Eboshi's right arm. This event redeems her and she decides to rebuild Irontown not as an industrial center, but as a modest settlement.
That remarkable passage is taken from Wikipedia’s page about the Japanese animated film Princess Mononoke, which Mrs Brit and I watched last night. As a synopsis, it is a fair reflection of the bemusing logic of Japanese animated films in general. In Japanese animated films, having one's arm bitten off by the disembodied head of a wolf-goddess is exactly the sort of thing that prompts a chap to rebuild an Industrial Centre as a Modest Settlement.
We have built up a good collection of Studio Ghibli films. Spirited Away is still the best, but they are all satisfyingly beautiful and strange.
The key thing about them is that they are not bound by any of the traditional Western storytelling conventions. Plots meander and splinter all over the place, being more one-damn-thing-after-another than a coherent arc.
And this lack of a defined plot arc liberates the characters. Their actions are driven by whim and circumstance, rather than by the fact that they are goodies or baddies within the story. Motivations and loyalties are fluid and malleable; they do good things and bad things. Villainy and heroism are contingent, as in real life. Great big ferocious demons turn out to be sympathetic and sad. The main characters are curiously Christlike – rather than slaying monsters, they tend to favour psychoanalysing and then forgiving them.
You can watch the DVDs with English actors doing the voices, but we always prefer to watch in Japanese with English subtitles since this preserves the required level of disorienting weirdness. At one point in Princess Mononoke the two protagonists in a swordfight yell the following at each other:
“Why can’t Irontown and the forest gods live together in harmony?”
“We always want to control everything between heaven and hell, it is the human condition!”
They do cartoons differently in Japan.