Once again The Alt Entertainer is back at the BFI for their Studio Ghibli season, showing a selection of Ghibli films on the big screen. This time we were there to witness Hayao Miyazaki hand over the directional reigns to Isao Takahata, as the next generation of animators within the company got a chance to present the world their talent. This responsibility went to none other than Goro Miyazaki, the son of the Ghibli maestro himself.
Tales of Earthsea tells the story of Ged, a powerful wizard who is called upon to protect Prince Arren from the evil shenanigans (that’s right I said shenanigans) of rival wizard Cob. Along with Therru, a young girl he rescued from slave takers, Arren must unite with Ged in order to defeat Cob and restore the world to its former state.
Tales of Earthsea was a project that had the chance to give fans a sneak peak of not only the skills handed down from one generation to another, but also what direction the franchise could go once Hayao Miyazaki was to retire. Unfortunately, the result wasn’t something for fans to feel at ease when that dreaded retirement day approached.
Studio Ghibli are renowned to making films that offer original fantasy type stories that capture the hearts and imagination of their viewers. Their stories, characters and eye pleasing animation all work hand-in-hand in portraying an ‘out of this world’ fantasy setting that is instantly believable and taps into our emotions. However, Tales of Earthsea seems to lack much originality, as its characters seem like the result of recycled stereotypes in a generic fantasy setting which may make you lose interest half way through the film.
With that being said, Tales of Earthsea does offer quite a few high points. The film delivers a more traditional, perhaps even sensible, outlook on its story and characters that occupy the films environment. Goro takes a more conservative route to his filmmaking, whilst there are elements of his father’s mythology driven projects, and at the heart of the film is a battle of good and evil, showing that Goro hasn’t neglected the basis of Ghibli filmmaking.
It will be unfair to compare Goro to his father at this stage of his career; to live up to his father’s reputation of being one of the best animators in the world is no small task. Whilst not being the most entertaining of films, especially when being compared to other Ghibli releases, Tales of Earthsea does provide evidence that Goro offers a unique talent that in time all Ghibli and animation fans hope will blossom to further Studio Ghibli’s reputation of being the best animation company in the industry.