Studio Ghibli Challenge #16: Tales From Earthsea (2006) Anime Movie Review
If you are going to talk about Hayao Miyazaki and the impact he contributed on the anime industry, you will instantly know that he is a legend. But then again, he is only human and is now pretty old. In one way or another, his legendary works should be transitioned to younger people to continue the legacy that he was able to establish.
Tales from Earthsea is a movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki. A movie that has high expectations hoping that the son inherited the greatness his father has.
But that is not always the case.
The movie starts off with a galley caught in between two dragons fighting. In a faraway kingdom, a wizard proclaims that dragons are a sign that there is an imbalance in the world. The king is dealing with the loss of his son, Prince Arren. Then in a weird turn of events, he arrives and kills his father during the night. He steals his father's sword and flees.
After being stranded in the desert, he was rescued by a magician named Sparrowhawk. They travel together and arrived in Hort town. Arren rescues a girl named Therru from a group of slavers but was then captured and enslaved by the same group shortly after. His sword was dumped into the sea. Sparrowhawk arrives and saves him and they both go to his friend Tenar who lives with Therru. His action angers Lord Cob the ruler of Hort town. It seems that Sparrowhawk's goal is to restore the balance and while doing so, he purchased Arren's sword from a merchant.
Arren tells Therru that he killed his father. He is then haunted by his guilt which leads to him leaving. He fell unconscious and Lord Cob took him to his castle. He then manipulates Arren to reveal his true name, Prince Lebannen. The slavers capture Tenar to lure Sparrowhawk and left Therru behind. She met with Sparrowhawk and they both go to Cob's castle to save Arren and Tenar. Now while being controlled by Cob, he ordered Arren to kill Sparrowhawk but the magician was able to free him. But once again got captured.
Therru follows Arren's duplicate and learns of his true name. She then was able to find the real Arren and calls him by his true name while also revealing her true name as well, Teharu. They both try to rescue Sparrowhawk and when Arren drew his sword he notices that it was sealed with magic. He was able to subdue Cob before he takes Teharu. He once again confronted him, but before Cob was able to use his last magic, Teharu transforms into a dragon. She kills Cob and was able to rescue Arren as the castle collapses. The movie ends with Teharu transforming back into her human self while Arren and Sparrowhawk embark on an adventure.
There are a couple of things that get quite confusing about this story:
Number one, why did Arren kill his father? We never really got a good glimpse of his backstory whatsoever so I think it got pretty useless when it was supposed to be his first turning point in the story.
Number two, his sword fell into the water then suddenly reappeared and became like a magical rune at the end of the story. It is quite confusing because you sometimes ask yourself why didn't he use it in the first place to protect himself or Therru when they fought the slavers.
Number three, who is the main protagonist? The movie starts off with the introduction of Arren, When Sparrowhawk was introduced, Arren took a backseat and became insignificant until the final act begins.
Number four, dragons were introduced at the beginning of the story then somehow their significance got lost in the middle and once again reappeared at the end. What are they really?
One cannot deny that this film is one of Studio Ghibli's weakest. If you compare this film to something like Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, or Spirited Away you instantly know that they are a couple of times better than this movie. I never watched any film from the studio that I got bored from beginning to end than Tales From Earthsea. The story itself is just not interesting to me. I feel like it's rushed and its pacing is quite off.
The characters as well were just all over the place. They are very unlikable from the time they get introduced in the story and it didn't get any better.
I like the animation though. The typical Studio Ghibli design and touch are still there. The fictional world where the movie takes place is quite massive and wonderful to look at.
The movie's story was an adaptation of a series of books of the same name. The problem with the film is that it tried to compile all those into just one feature. So that's why it lost most of its story and everything is just rushed.
I still think that this film has a lot of potential and somehow it just lost along the way.
A truly disappointing movie.
1 out of 5 stars.