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    Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Long time no see? :D

    Now, I’m writing this article on Sporkings because I thought that Sporking also includes other mediums such as movies and games, and what I’m writing about would should really be considered as a spork rather than a genuine review. I hope that I’m putting this in the right category.

    So, during the Christmas holiday I went to watch Avatar in 3D. (Who haven’t?) I was swept away by the beautiful graphics and rush visual creativity; but despite this, I couldn’t help but feel that what I was watching was somewhat all too familiar. I know that The Emerald Forest has been mentioned and Dancing with Wolves has been mentioned; but the movie I was thinking about is a movie less familiar to the Western audience; Miyazaki Hayao’s Princess Mononoke, a film he created before he broke the Hollywood market with Spirited Away.

    Here are more than a few similarities that I noticed:

    The main character is a human youth who is crippled (In Avatar Jake has a spinal chord injury, in Princess Mononoke Asidaka has a crippling curse on his arm) that causes the main character to set out on a journey to a distant forest land in hopes that his injury can be cured there.

    The main setting is a beautiful and ancient forest with mythical power, partially cleared out by humans who are attempting to colonize the land. The humans who want to clear the forest for the rich mineral deposit under the forest and inhabitants of the forest. For a human, to step into the forest means death as the forest is extremely hostile. There is a bitter between humans and the mythical inhabitants of the forest (Gods in Princess Mononoke, Na’vi in Avatar) who will fight until death to protect their sacred forest. While the indigenous people are physically stronger, humans have the technical advantage and are armed with new weapons; humans are currently on the winning side. The spiritual leader of the forest is a supreme deity, who incorporates the balance of all life forces within the forest. (Shisigami in Princess Mononoke, Enwa in Avatar) Even though the forest is being destroyed this supreme deity is currently taking no actions, as the deity does not take sides but merely “protect the balance of life“.

    In the forest, the main character meets the heroine (San in Princess Mononoke, Neytiri in Avatar ) she is a savage warrior woman who harvests a bitter hatred against humans. The heroine is the daughter/stepdaughter of the chieftain of a clan. (San is a stepdaughter of Moro, the leader of Wolf clan, while Neytiri is the daughter of Mo’at, the leader of Omaticaya clan) The main character follows the heroine in hope that she can be the key in his current mission, but she shows nothing but contempt for the main character as he is human. She in fact almost kills the main character, but a divine sign from the Shisigami/Enwa supreme deity prevents this. However as the film progresses, the heroine is reluctantly drawn to the main character and torn between her growing admiration for him and her hatred for humans.

    Despite the fact the main character is human, he is drawn by the beauty of the ancient forest and its inhabitants and are torn between the humans and the people of the forest. He continues to seek out for a diplomatic solution, and attempts to convince both sides for a middle ground; yet neither humans or the natives think they can coexist and the feud develops into a war.

    During the film, one of the main characters is mortally wounded by being accidentally shot in the torso (Asidaka in Princess Mononoke, Dr Augustine in Avatar) Despite the fact the character is a human an exception is made and the character is taken to the most sacred place of the forest, an empty grove with a sacred tree growing in the center, a place that is the incarnation of the supreme Enwa/Shisigami deity and the center of the native mythology. The wounded character is left under the sacred tree and the supreme Enwa/Shisigami deity is called to heal the character.

    lol @ the mosses that light up when someone steps on ‘em

    From around the world, different forest clans gather to make one final stand against humans; while humans plan to destroy the sacred grove of the Enwa/Shisigami deity as the destruction of this deity will rob the forest of its mythical powers forever. The united clans and creatures of the forest march against the assailing humans (With lots and lots of body paints, too) yet under the human forces’ supreme firepower the natives are almost annihilated. However, the tide of the battle is quickly turned when the supreme deity Enwa/Shisigami finally releases his wrath against humans. The humans are driven out.

    In the end, the main hero’s disability is healed by the power of Enwa/Shisigami. (San’s arm is cleansed by Shisigami, and Jake is transfered into his whole avatar body) decides not to go back home and stay with the forest and the heroine.

    Am I pulling the strings or are they really that similar?

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2009
    I haven't seen either one; however, I'm more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. There's also a short story entitled 'Call Me Joe', which follows the attempted colonization of Saturn. It specifically follows Joe, a disabled man who controls a remote body through a psionic link.

    Remote bodies controlled through psionic links, a troubled hero’s return to his spiritual links, Nature versus Human Technology or “cultured hero meets noble savages” in themselves have been done before and will be done again. But well – it was too many similarities in one movie for me.

    You should really watch both Avatar and Princess Mononoke :) I’ve really enjoyed both. Princess Mononoke is very good, even if you aren’t into anime stuff.


    Dances with Wolves...
    Last Samurai...

    Wait, maybe it would be a shorter list what Avatar isn’t ripping off.





    I feel like I should host a contest seeing how many Star Trek episodes a geek can combine to “make” Avatar.

    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2009 edited

    If James Cameron ripped off anything, it’s history. It’s not like there haven’t really been greedy imperialists attacking indigenous people in order to claim certain resources.


    Marquis// I need to watch that. searches Oh, it’s on YouTube.

    Nate Winchester// But Last Samurai or Dancing with Wolves sacred sparkly grove with a tree in the center and covered with moss that where Mother Nature deity healed the wounded. Specifically. It was not only the general theme but the specific scenes, the visual atmosphere and pretty much everything about the plot.

    I’ve Googled around and Cameron did acknowledge that he was influenced from Miyazaki’s works including Mononoke Hime, after all. It’s influenced a little too heavily, though, I daresay.

    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2009

    I wouldn’t say “disturbing.” It’s a classic story of the Good Nature-Loving Mystics against the Evil Rapacious Industrialists. The specific similarities are kind of interesting, but not enough to justify the cry of “ripoff,” IMO.

    That being said, I liked Avatar and loved Mononoke. I still remember FernGully fondly, even though it’s about as subtle as a ham to the face.


    I’ve seen Mononoke, so… wow. It’s that close?

    I feel like I should host a contest seeing how many Star Trek episodes a geek can combine to “make” Avatar.

    Do I need to bring my sister on here?

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2010
    I have to be honest: in hearing the spectrum of excuses for the film's plot and characters alongside the number of stories that have startling's reminding me of Eragon. Advocates arguing the 'archetypal' plot isn't ripping off, when specific parallels can be drawn, and drawn quite easily.
    • CommentTimeJan 5th 2010

    I found another one- Pocahontas.

    (from BoingBoing)


    It’s uncanny.


    Meh; literally everything in that movie was ripped off of something else. EVERYTHING.

    Seriously, there wasn’t a moment in the movie that didn’t make me go, “Hey, I’ve seen that before in [book/movie/video game].” Well, except for the mind-link-braid-thing, but that was just stupid.

    • CommentAuthorNo One
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2010

    OK, if you haven’t heard of this, then this is gonna be a news-flash.

    Avatar 2 is being filmed later this year.

    And my friend has just been asked to do an audition for Avatar 2.


    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2010 edited

    This brilliantly captures the similarities. Watch the Avatar trailer, and then watch this.

    It’s almost shot for shot.