Update 11/20/2014: Hayao Miyazaki's original 1980 Mononoke Hime image boards are now published in the Unites States, courtesy of Viz Media. Titled "Princess Mononoke: The First Story," we are now able to appreciate this delightful story and impressive color artwork in the flesh. Because of this, I have decided to delete the photos in this post, save a few samples. By all means, purchase the new Mononoke book and give Viz your support.
Now the quick history lesson: In 1980, Hayao Miyazaki created a series of watercolor image boards for an animation film project titled, "Mononoke Hime," or "Princess Mononoke." Unfortunately, he was unable to attract any funding for the project, as this came during the director's difficult period of 1978-1983. He eventually published his image boards in his 1983 book, "Hayao Miyazaki Image Boards." Years later, story elements would find their way into the Studio Ghibli movies My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and, of course, the 1997 Princess Mononoke. The 1980 version was published as a standalone book in the mid-1990s in Japan.
The 1980 Mononoke remained an obscurity, even among Miyazaki fans. In 2008, I published the entire story, taken from a fan translation circulating around the internet. Strangely enough, my post didn't generate any attention for three years...at which point something in the internet clicked on, and fans started to discover this "lost" Miyazaki work. By 2014, it was clear that demand was high for a published version, and Viz Media answered fans' demands.
This post has been Ghibli Blog's most popular by far. For that, I am eternally thankful and grateful for the kind attention. But I am a strong advocate of supporting the artists who enrich our lives, so that means deleting these image boards and directing you towards the nearest bookstore.
Enjoy this sample of Hayao Miyazaki's famous "lost" anime: