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Lady Eboshi

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Watch closely, everyone. I'm going to show you how to kill a god. A god of life and death. The trick is not to kill him.
~ Lady Eboshi to her men, preparing to kill the Forest Spirit
Cut off a wolf's head and it still has the power to bite.
~ Lady Eboshi
I'm getting a little bored of this curse of yours, Ashitaka. Let me just cut the damn thing off!
~ Lady Eboshi to Ashitaka
Stay here. Help me kill the Forest Spirit, Ashitaka. Without that ancient god, the animals here would be nothing but dumb beasts once again. Once the forest has been cleared and the wolves wiped out, this desolate place will become the richest land in the world... and Princess Mononoke will become human.
~ Lady Eboshi explains her goals

Lady Eboshi is the main antagonist of the Studio Ghibli film, Princess Mononoke. She is voiced by Minnie Driver in the English Dub.

She is the manager of Iron Town, a mining community in Japan around the 13th/14th century. She leads the iron workers there in a two-front war against the forest gods and the local warlords, hoping to turn the forest into more mining land for the town, and start an independent community free from the Emperor or feudal lords. Her main enemies are the wolf goddess Moro and her adopted human daughter, San. In spite of her ruthlessness toward nature, she has a compassionate side. She cares deeply for the people of her town, and is loved and revered by the townspeople for protecting them. She uses the funds from selling the Iron they make to buy brothel girls and hire them as workers, and train them as fighters. She also provides a haven for lepers and other outcasts.

It can be inferred in the movie that Lady Eboshi is not a villain at all (and rather an antagonist to San), and that the humans and forest-dwellers are equally in the wrong for fighting rather than cooperating. Lady Eboshi and San are shown to be the diametrically opposed forces in the movie though their mutual hatred of each other and everything they represent, while showing nothing but compassion for their own kind. Meanwhile, the main character, Prince Ashitaka, maintains a relatively neutral stance between the two sides, attempting to stop each side from destroying the other. This inference is further strengthened by the absence of villains and use of pacifism as a theme in other movies Hayao Miyazaki has directed.

History

After arriving in Iron Town with her guns and small army, she drives out the boar god, Nago by wounding him with a bullet, a weapon he was unprepared for. She also managed to wound Moro when she tried to attack her cattle train. Moro accepts her eventual death from the wound, but still vows to take revenge on her.

The pain Eboshi's guns cause Nago inadvertently turn him into a demon, sending him on a rampage that leads to him cursing Ashitaka, the film's protagonist. When Ashitaka traces Nago's trail to Iron Town, she confesses her responsibility for his curse, but expresses sympathy for him.

After seeing how Lady Eboshi treats her workers and the lepers, Ashitaka decides that she is not truly evil, and tries to urge both San and Eboshi to live peacefully together. It is soon revealed however, that Eboshi is working for the monk Jigo, who first provided her with weapons and men. In return for his service, Jigo requires Lady Eboshi to lead an assault on the Great Forest Spirit, kill it, and take its head to give to the Emperor, supposedly to grant immortality.

While she carries out this task in the forest, the local warlords launch an assault on Iron Town. Ashitaka urges her to return and help them, but Eboshi decides to fulfill her promise to Jigo instead, leaving the town to defend itself. Although Ashitaka tries to stop her, Eboshi succeeds in shooting off the Forest Spirit's head. A moment later, Moro, with her last gasp of life, bites off Eboshi's arm.

Without its head, the Spirit becomes a rampaging god of death, destroying everything it touches. Ashitaka protects her long enough for her henchman Gonza to carry her back to the town, while he and San return the Spirit's head, allowing him to die in peace. Reunited with the townspeople, Eboshi expresses shame for her actions, and promises to start over building a good village.

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