|“||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 fear 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|
|“||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 the manager of Iron Town, a mining community in Japan around the 13th/14th century. She leads the ironworkers 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.
She was voiced by Yuko Tanaka in Japanese and Minnie Driver in English.
In Whole Hog Theatre's stage productions, she was portrayed by Elizabeth Williams.
After arriving in Iron Town with her guns and a 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 turns 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.
Lady Eboshi is a young woman with black hair that she ties up in some sort of traditional style, finishing off with a pink ribbon. She's the only female in the film who wears lipstick. She wears Hakama, a dark red male kimono, and a huge cloak that she hangs on her shoulders. This outfit is reminiscent of Shirabyoushi, which hints at her backstory. And it is her unexplained difficult past, which provokes her high opinion of herself, and her low opinion of others problems. When she's in her "battle attire" she wears a shorter cloak and a red eboshi cap, which gave her name.
Lady Eboshi is a greedy woman who has no care for the natural world and is willing to kill forest gods to get her reward. 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.
Lady Eboshi and San are shown to be the diametrically opposed forces in the movie through 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.
- 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.