Ashitaka is the protagonist of Princess Mononoke. As prince and hero of his village, he is forced to leave when he is infected by hate from a boar demon. Ashitaka and his red elk, Yakul, head to the forbidden forest and he eventually reaches Irontown, an insular settlement administered by the mysterious Lady Eboshi. She is attempting to control the forces of nature that surrounds the forest and also collect the head of the forest spirit. Later, in the forest, Ashitaka meets the wolf-girl princess, San, who wants to destroy Irontown. Ultimately, Ashitaka stops a war between Irontown and the forest creatures, and stops the incensed Forest Spirit from destroying them both.
At the beginning of the movie, Ashitaka has long hair that is tied into a bun, but he cuts it off after he is told to leave the village. His clothing consists of a blue top and peach-white pants, as well as brown bottom warmers and shoes made out of fabric. He also wears blue arm sleeves and a red hood to cover his face. He wears a cloak made out of hay for a small portion of the movie. He wears his sister's crystal dagger before he gives it to San. After San's attack on Iron Town, Ashitaka has a slash scar on his left cheek where San slashed him with her dagger.
Ashitaka is very stern and determined to achieve his goals, not allowing his setbacks to stop him from curing his curse and saving his village. He is also extremely curious in nature, wanting to discover who San truly is after witnessing her sucking venom out of one of the wolves. Despite his hard outer shell, Ashitaka is also very kind and only wishes for the best outcomes for both sides, not wishing for either side to shed blood in destructive wars, and wants peace between the forces of man and nature.
Nago Attacks the Village
Princess Mononoke starts as Ashitaka is riding towards the lookout tower for his village, telling everyone he meets along the way that the village wise woman has ordered everyone inside the village. When he reaches (and climbs to the top of) the watchtower, asking the watchman if he sees anything. he points into the forest not far from the tower. Something is visible moving in the underbrush, getting closer. It is a demon that first appears to be made of purple worms. Everything it touches withers up and dies. It moves towards the watchtower and the village. crashing into the watchtower, sending it down a steep hill. Ashitaka and the watchman escape, and Ashitaka mounts Yakul and rides to cut the demon off before it reaches the village.
He manages to stop it right before it reaches the village, and tries to reason with it and make it leave. It doesn't listen to Ashitaka. Seeing no other choice to keep it from attacking the village, Ashitaka shoots an arrow towards it, and hits its eye. Enraged, the worms around the beast reach out for Ashitaka, and a few latch themselves onto his arm. Ashitaka shoots the second eye, and the boar falls to the ground, immobile.
The wisewoman and several villagers come to the scene of the fight, and remove Ashitaka from Yakul. He has a large, irregularly patterned, purplish scar on his forearm where the worms made contact with his skin. The wound is tended to. The wisewoman turns to the dying boar and tells it that they will give it proper burial rights and asks it not to bear them any ill will. It dies after ignoring the wisewoman and saying that humans are pathetic and that someday they would suffer as he had suffered.
Ashitaka Heads West
That night Ashitaka meets before the village elders. The Wisewoman reads Ashitaka's future using magic stones and tells Ashikata that the wound is a curse, and that it will grow and consume him, cause him great pain, and then kill him, and there is nothing he can do to stop it. A few elders protest, saying that their numbers are growing smaller, and that they do no wish to send away their last prince. The Wisewoman tells Ashitaka that the most he can do is to meet his fate. She takes from her kimono an iron ball, and tells him that it was found inside the boar's body, and that it is the cause of his suffering and what turned him into a demon. She bids Ashitaka ride east and find out what did this, to 'see with eyes unclouded' and see what he can do to make sure what happened to the boar doesn't happen again. Ashitaka agrees, and cuts his hair before leaving to pack his things.
Even though the laws of the village forbid it, Ashitaka's sister, Kaya, comes out to bid him goodbye, and gives him her crystal dagger. Ashitaka tells her he will never forget her, then rides off on Yakul. Kaya runs to the front gate where it would be her last night to see him.
The Forbidden Forest
After rescuing two men in the waterfall, Ashitaka looks around to see if their were any other injured men, only to see a wolf that is injured. A girl with her two wolves comes and gets rid of the poisoned blood. The girl spots Ashitaka, but doesn't confront him. Ashitaka decides to introduce himself only to mistake her as the forest spirit. Being told to go away, Ashitaka hears a scream coming from the men he rescued and decides to bring the men back to their home. With the help of the Kodama's they arrive in the forbidden forest. A deadly forest where humans were restricted not to come near. Ashitaka decided that they should take a break. While getting water for one of the injured men, he noticed a wolf paw printed onto the grass, thinking that the wolf girl lives in the forest. He later see's another print in the water, realizing that the prints were made recently. As Ashitaka is observing, he sees a hoard of moose-like animals, then see's one that is completly different from the others. Surprised and wanting to get a better look, the side effect of his cursed arm begins. Not wanting the injured men to know about his curse, he quickly puts his arm into the water, not having time to take off his arm sleeve. After the pain was gone, the hoard was gone. Ashitaka asked the man if he saw something strange but he said no.
Arriving in Irontown
Ashitaka and the two injured men arrive at their home, Irontown. Not wanting anyone to know his identity at first, he arrives in Irontown by boat and is greated by Gonza. A group of workers come to bring one of the men to a place to heal and rest. The injured man who has been riding on Yakul's back is known to be an ox driver in town named Kohroku and has a wife name Toki. Toki is at first happy to see him alive, but furious to see his broken arm and leg yells at him how he's going to ride the ox when he is all injured, later giving him a death wish of dying by the wolves. Lady Eboshi, mistress of Irontown comes to greet Ashitaka and welcome Kohroku back home. The men treat him as if he was family while the ladies asked Ashitaka if he would like to see their job. As the men were talking about the demon boar god Nago, Ashitaka receives a slight feeling that Nago was the one who attacked his village. Speaking with Eboshi and exposing his cursed arm, Eboshi reveales that she was the one who put the curse on Nago.
San Attacks Iron Town
The very same night of Ashitaka's arrival, San makes a surprise attack on Iron Town. But due to her quick agility, no one was able to chase after her while she was running her way to Eboshi. Ashitaka stops San from being killed by three gunman. San was knocked out by two ladies, one named Kiyo and the other unnamed, who's husbands were killed by her wolves. Ashitaka wakes San up, only to receive a scar on his face by her dagger. Ashitaka, showing off his powers, stops San from attacking Eboshi and exposing the truth about his cursed arm. After Ashitaka stuns both Eboshi and San, he decides to leave Iron Town with San. Kiyo points her gun at Ashitaka, but actually not wanting to shoot him. By suprise by one of the elders, Kiyo shoots Ashitaka by accident, but due to Ashitaka's curse, he was able to stay alive.
Arriving at the gate, San's wolves come to take her back. Ashitaka tells them that she is safe and he is coming with them. His final words to the people of Iron Town, "You have my thanks".
As Ashitaka is leaving Iron Town with San, he is mortally wounded and falls off Yakul. San wakes up right after and notice her wolves going to attack Ashitaka. After ordering them to leave him to her, she quickly gets angry and tells Ashitaka that she should kill him for saving Eboshi.