Tales from Earthsea (2006)

So initially, the next Ghibli on my list was supposed to be the first one I ever saw, ie My Neighbor Totoro however after recently reading a crap article by the New York Times I decided it can wait so I can tackle something that been irking me. So in this crap article (which claimed Spirited Away was the best Ghibli film by the way so they definitely aren’t basic) the author made an audacious accusation by declaring Tales from Earthsea the worst on the Studio Ghibli roster. And apparently they aren’t the only people who have made this claim (according to our magazine’s Editor and Chief, Tierra). I call bullxxxx. Tales from Earthsea is underrated, underappreciated, and a damn good film and I am sick of hearing people say otherwise. So out of spite, I sat aside My Neighbor Totoro and popped in Tales from Earthsea.

Alright so despite my initial remarks after some review I see why the ignorant swine would consider this one the worst. It does stray away from the typical Ghibli custom and focuses mainly on a young male, Prince Arren, rather than a maiden; but mainly, Tales from Earthsea has the least amount of action throughout all of the movies. It follows the prince (after he runs away), as he and a wizard (the Archmage Sparrowhawk) travel through the land of Earthsea in an attempt to find the cause of the shift in the balance. The two unite with Sparrowhawk’s old friend Tenar and her young ward Therru and after a semi-convoluted subplot and a series of (I suppose unfortunate) events between Therru and Arren the two end up restoring the balance together. Despite the lack of action and the aforementioned semi-convoluted subplot Tales from Earthsea is an amazing story about the power of fear and the necessity of death and birth.

Tales from Earthsea takes a particular focus on the importance of death and the meaning that it holds within context to life. Is life meaningless because we’re all going to die anyway or is life meaningless without the promise of death to bring purpose to it? This is the question the characters struggle to answer as the fear of death literally takes a hold of Arren and runs away with him. The power of fear and the irrational violence it can cause is also a topic flirted with throughout the movie and it reaches its pinnacle during the climax with Arren and Therru. This movie requires a little thinking and if someone isn’t used to doing that I can see why they wouldn’t get it.

Tales from Earthsea is less about the journey and more about the lesson.


So maybe I haven’t done an adequate job arguing my point for why this movie isn’t the worst Ghibli movie. And to those who agree with that statement all I can say is…. FIGHT ME.

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About the Author

Sierra Beeler is a junior English major at UNC Charlotte. An aspiring screenwriter, she hopes to one day entertain the masses with a book series turned television show she hopes will “put J.K Rowling to shame.” When not working on one of her many uncompleted projects, Sierra enjoys watching Hulu and crying over fictional characters.