Princess Mononoke or Bust!

mono.jpg (72896 bytes)

Our 20 hour trip to Atlanta, Georgia to experience the magnum opus of Hayao Miyazaki

November 6, 1999

Conventions Princess Mononoke

After months of anticipation, that glorious day had arrived. The premiere of Princess Mononoke. Unfortunately for the fans in Jacksonville, Florida, the closest hosting theatre was in Atlanta, Georgia. However, a mere six hour drive was nothing to furored fans such as us. Here we have gathered in front of my house ready to launch our quest. It was now 8 AM and our trip was about to begin.

There were seven of us, Besides Josh and me (pictured above on the right), there were my friends from work, Rob and Drina (center) and my friends from Japanese class, Jason and Jamie (left). Gally-chan, the seventh member of our little group, would be meeting us in Atlanta.

I was amazed by how quickly 6 hours can pass when you're with friends. Drina, in the back, kept us well stocked with home made snacks and drinks as she pulled them from a bottomless bag in the back of the van. We had so much food along the way, there was no need to stop for lunch. It was a true party van for the whole trip. Finally, through this overpass, was our first glimpse of Atlanta.

Our first stop, and where we were to meet Gally-chan, was Oxford Comics and Games, 2688 Piedmont Road, (404) 233-8682. Do not let the simple store front fool you into thinking this is some small, part-time anime shop. I have never seen a bigger anime and manga selection outside the dealer's room at a major convention. It was exactly 2 PM as we pulled into the tiny parking lot.

Once you step inside, you can see that the store stretches out simply forever. The picture to the left shows the back of the store with a huge selection of manga, posters, scrolls, resin kits, you name it. Below is a picture of the front of the store with anime tapes, original Japanese CDs and all sorts of little Japanese trinkets.

As soon as we arrived, I started looking around for Gally. We had not met before in real life, however, I had seen her Lum-chan picture before so I had some idea of who I was seeking. Apparently we had arrived first as she was not there yet. After browsing a bit, Gally showed up and after a couple of identifying questions we quickly confirmed that contact had been made.

Gally had already staked out the theatre and purchased the tickets in advance. She would also be our guide as the location of the theatre was rather obscure to us out-of-towners. Once we had finished up with Oxford (among the seven of us, we spent at least $600 on anime loot ^_^;), we headed for the movies.

It was now about 3:30 PM as we stood in front of the Garden Hills Cinema. The movie was to start at 4:15. This was a rather charming little section of town and we visited a few of the shops while we waited.

The time was quickly approaching. I don't know if I had ever before welcomed a movie with such anticipation. As it happens we were first in line, but the lobby quickly filled with other Miyazaki fans, some who had traveled nearly as far as we had.

a008_12.jpg (41174 bytes)

The movie exceeded my wildest expectations. We scored excellent seats and even though it was conventional seating (not stadium), I had a perfect view of the screen. I wish I could share the wondrous feeling that permeated the auditorium. Failing that, you can view a QuickTime video of the Princess Mononoke trailer by clicking on the picture to the right. It's almost 9 megs, so expect the download to take a bit.

The movie is about 2 and a half hours long, but it passed quickly. Having accomplished our goal with surpassing success, we would now complete our evening with nothing less then a Japanese sushi dinner at the Soto Japanese restaurant. It was now about 7:30 in the evening.

a007_10.jpg (40482 bytes)

As with our other stops in Atlanta, do not let the simple exterior distract from the quality within. Reviews of this particular restaurant were unanimous in their opinion that the service here was as slow as the food was rapturously good. We found that to be exactly the case. As it happened, that suited us perfectly because, even though we were looking at a 6 hour trip home, we were in no hurry to leave.

One final picture before we return to Jacksonville. It was a long drive back, but most of us were able to sleep through at least part of it. We arrived at my house at 4 AM giving us an official round trip time of 20 hours. It had been, in all respects, a perfect trip to see a glorious movie.

a002_3.jpg (42525 bytes)
Conventions Princess Mononoke