The Cranky Critic® Guide to Hayao Miyazaki's

The Gods and Creatures of the Forest


The Kodama live in the forest and represent the spirit of Trees. They make a clicking sound by spinning their heads and are witness to the daily transformation of the Great Forest Spirit into the Nightwalker. Innocent creatures, they come to the aid of Ashitaka after he stumbles into a battle between the samurai of Ladi Eboshi and Mononoke, and guide him to the Tatara Ironworks when he rescues two of their porters believed to have been killed by Moro, the Wolf God.

Great Forest Spirit/ Night Walker

The Ultimate God of the Forest, the Spirit conveys the power of life and death. The sight of it makes the cursed arm of Ashitaka flare up and try to kill. At sundown, it transforms into the Nightwalker, a 30 foot giant being with translucent skin. Patterns of light radiate from it's body during it's nightly journey.

It is believed that the head of the Great Forest Spirit can bring Eternal Life. The Emperor wants the head. Jigo is to get it, regardless of the consequences.

Moro, the Wolf God (voiced by Gillian Anderson). The most intelligent and cunning God of the Forest. "Mother" of San, and well aware of the natural attraction between human male and female.

Neil Gaiman: I have a specific fondness for Moro. When you listen to Gillian Anderson doing Moro, what you are getting is pure Neil Gaiman dialog. We didn't have to match the mouth flaps. You can hear the rhythms, my rhythms, rather than being dictated to by the animation. She's a force of nature. Very really a force of nature. Wonderful, sensible, loving. Monstrous.

Lord Okkoto, the Boar God (voiced by Keith David)

Neil Gaiman: I love the moment where Moro starts talking to the giant boar, Lord Okkoto, and you realize that 500 years ago these two had some kind of relationship which was just a little more than platonic. You can still hear this lingering affection in her voice. Still that little touch of romance there.

The Shoujou

The Shoujou are the ape-gods of the forest. Violent and dangerous, they hide in the shadows and wait to destroy the humans. They are the most dangerous creatures in the forest -- very primal and, it goes without saying, none too intelligent


Now that you've got the basics, click for Cranky Critic® StarTalk with Neil Gaiman
Copyright © 1999 Chuck Schwartz except All images and music © 1997 Studio Ghibli.