Hayao Miyazaki Confirmed This Princess Mononoke Fan Theory Is True

YouTube
YouTube

For many American moviegoers, 1997’s Princess Mononoke is the anime epic that introduced them to the groundbreaking work of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. On the surface, the film is about a man’s quest to find a cure for a demonic curse that gives him superhuman abilities, and will also eventually kill him. But there’s a longstanding Japanese urban legend that suggests that Princess Mononoke is really about leprosy (or Hansen’s disease), and Miyazaki has just confirmed the popular fan theory is true.

There’s a point in the movie when its protagonist, Ashitaka, meets some former brothel workers covered with bloody bandages at a factory in Irontown. They use the factory as a refuge because it’s the only place where they’re not discriminated against.

In its original Japanese, the characters are described as “gyobyo,” which in English translates to having an “incurable disease” or “suffering the consequences.” The word leprosy doesn’t appear anywhere in the original Japanese version—unlike the American one—so over time, the theory that the characters are suffering from leprosy has grown with every new generation that has watched the film.

In 2016, Miyazaki talked about his inspirations for Princess Mononoke in relation to World Leprosy Day on January 31. He confirmed that the characters at Tatara factory do, in fact, have leprosy and that he met with patients at a hospital in Tokyo for people with Hansen’s disease during the film’s production. “While making Princess Mononoke, I thought I had to depict people who are ill with what’s clearly called an incurable disease, but who are living as best they can,” Miyazaki said.

There you have it: Another truth behind another movie urban legend revealed.

[h/t Kotaku]

Virginia’s University of Lynchburg is Adding a Harry Potter Class to Its Fall Curriculum

Warner Bros. Ent. Harry Potter Publishing Rights J.K.R.
Warner Bros. Ent. Harry Potter Publishing Rights J.K.R.

While it’s not exactly an invitation to Hogwarts, students at Virginia’s University of Lynchburg are getting just about the next best thing. This fall, the campus is adding a Harry Potter-themed class to its curriculum as a general education course.

The university is in the process of changing some of its course offerings and streamlining classes in recognition of its modern students. According to WSET ABC 13, Dr. Sharon Foreman, director of general education, said of the new curriculum: "It is very targeted towards 21st century students who are going out into a global society and so we want faculty, staff, and administrators to know what that means, what it looks like, and [to] experience it first hand.”

Faculty have decided providing an education for a global society includes offering courses like the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Good Life," which will ask students to read J.K. Rowling’s books alongside the works of philosophers to create connections between the past and present.

University of Lynchburg coordinator of integrated seminars Amy Merrill Willis told WSLS 10 News that the course's instructor, Devin Brickhouse Bryson, is "going to be introducing philosophical concepts from [Plato], Socrates, and Aristotle, and asking students to think about the Harry Potter series in depth.”

Although there may not be a sorting hat or Butterbeer involved, the class sounds like a creative way to engage students in philosophy and critical issues, all while focused on the beloved Harry Potter series.

[h/t WSET ABC 13]

Wizarding World Orlando’s New Roller Coaster Is Full of Harry Potter Easter Eggs

Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando

While Universal Studios Orlando is already home to some incredible attractions in its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, such as its very own Hogsmeade, the Hogwarts Express, and even a Hogwarts Castle, the newest roller coaster seems to be bringing out the most dedicated of Potterheads. The ride, called Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, saw whopping 10-hour waits in its opening days, and for those lucky enough to have experienced the brand-new attraction already, it looks like many have deemed it worth the line.

GameSpot got to take a ride on the Motorbike Adventure, and writer Meg Downey noted all the great details riders will encounter as they soar through the Forbidden Forest—which included a load of Easter eggs.

In particular, Downey calls out the many Harry Potter nods on the walls of the castle ruins. The graffiti, which resembles cave drawings, includes a joke about a Hippogriff attempting to catch Draco Malfoy (likely in reference to the Prisoner of Azkaban scene where the cocky wizard encounters Buckbeak), a drawing of a Phoenix that looks just like Fawkes, and even some sweet writings from Harry’s parents, James and Lily Potter.

A Blast-Ended Skrewt within Universal Orlando's Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
A Blast-Ended Skrewt within Universal Orlando's Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a reference to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Universal Orlando

Additionally, the ride includes a reference to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, according to Downey, who reports that Hagrid has a poster of Nifflers in his main workshop.

The new ride seems to be a must-do experience for diehard Harry Potter fans, exploring some of the most mysterious parts of Hogwarts and the fun style of Hagrid and his creatures.

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