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Sunday July 23, 2006

Earthsea the anime

URSULA K. Le Guin's Earthsea saga ranks alongside J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings as among the world's best-loved fantasy tales. It's a collection of novels and short stories set in a magical world called Earthsea and largely follows the life of Ged, a rash, impulsive boy who possesses magical powers. 

Two years ago, Earthsea was adapted into a miniseries (www.scifi.com/earth sea).  

It starred teen queen Kristin Kreuk, but no pop idol would have been spared the flood of criticism from both fans of the books and Leguin herself. (In short, the miniseries was so cheesy and so different from the books that it might've been another tale.) However, those disappointed by the miniseries may want to check out Studio Ghibli's interpretation of it. 

Entitled Gedo Senki, the anime feature will be released in Japan at the end of this month. Interestingly, Miyazaki Goro, the son of famed animator Miyazaki Hayao, will direct this production. (Hayao was apparently still busy with Howl's Moving Castle when work on Gedo Senki began in October 2003.) 

According to Goro, the anime will focus on the third volume of the fantasy epic, Tales from Earthsea: The Farthest Shore. In that volume, Ged is already an adult and a powerful wizard.  

Ursula K. Le Guin posted a translation of the summary of the movie on her website (www.ursulakleguin.com/GedoSenkiSynopsis.html), but be careful when reading it as it's full of spoilers! 

Father-son tension 

Naturally, because Gedo Senki is a Studio Ghibli production, the media has been paying close attention to the movie's production process. However, their attention hasn't always been on the anime.  

In fact the media was arguably more interested in the cold relationship that formed between Goro and Hayao during the making of Gedo Senki. 

It all started when Hayao criticised his son's involvement in the movie. Goro in turn said in his director's blog that his father had “zero marks as a father, full marks as a director”. Ouch.  

The Hayao Miyazaki Web website has translated that very blog entry: www. nausicaa.net/miyazaki/earthsea/blog /blog39.html. (You may also be interested in reading entries where Goro talks more about his family: www.nausicaa.net/ miyazaki/earthsea/blog/blog40.htmland www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/earthsea/blog/blog41.html.) 

In a June 2006 interview with the Japanese publication Monthly Cyzo, Goro admits that he and his father were “not talking at all” during the production of Gedo Senki. 

After a while, Garo became tired of the relentless questions from the press about the tension between he and his father and pleaded with the reporters to “change their questions.” 

However, apparently the pair have since made up. According to Ghibli World (www.ghibliworld.com), Miyazaki senior made a surprise appearance at the preview of Gedo Senki. When he abruptly left, people thought the worse, but he later handed his son a short message that said: “It was an honest way of making, and good.” 

Goro was reportedly quite glad about his father's acceptance of movie and was “near tears”. 

Ah, nothing like a bit of family drama to spice up the film's promotional efforts. 


First trailer: www.ghibli.jp/25trailer 

Second trailer: www.ghibli.jp/26trailer  

One ought to be immediately entranced by the wistful song that accompanies the trailer. Exotic costumes, medieval locations ... dragons ... beautifully rendered backgrounds ... the trailer promises that the movie will be a magical experience. (Though, curiously, many of the characters are fair-skinned while in Le Guin's world most are dark-skinned.)  

However, it is difficult to predict whether Gedo Senki will be faithful enough to Le Guin's vision to please Earthsea fans. I guess we will have to wait until after the premiere to find out! – Kitty Sensei


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