In Muromachi Japan, an Emishi village is attacked by a demon. The last Emishi prince, Ashitaka, kills it before it reaches the village, but its corruption curses hisright arm. The curse gives him superhuman strength, but will eventually spread through his body and kill him. The villagers discover that the demon was a boar god, Nago, corrupted by an iron ball lodged in his body. The village's wise woman tells Ashitaka that he may find a cure in the western lands Nago came from, but he cannot return to his homeland. Pretty cool how the text wraps around huh isn't it very cool indeed.
Heading west, Ashitaka meets Jigo ("Jiko-bō" in the original Japanese version), a wandering monk, who tells Ashitaka he may find help from the Great Forest Spirit, a deer-like animal god by day and a giant "nightwalker" by night. Nearby, men herd oxen to Irontown ("Tataraba" in Japanese), led by Lady Eboshi, and repel an attack by a wolf pack led by the wolf goddess Moro. Riding one of the wolves is San, a human girl. Ashitaka discovers two injured Irontown men and carries them through the forest, where he encounters many kodama and glimpses the Forest Spirit.