Tsunderin: When looking at the Ghibli library, there’s one movie that seems to stick out like a sore thumb. A film that is only spoken of in whispers so as to not invite its wrath upon you. Or at least a film that clearly stands out as the black sheep of the family. No matter how melodramatic your interpretation, the general consensus on Tales from Earthsea seem to be “ugh, that movie.” Going into it, I honestly didn’t see how this movie could have been bad. Sure, it was a little long, but a fantasy setting with magic and dragons? It’s cruise control for interesting. To say that Earthsea was uninteresting wouldn’t be entirely true, but the issues in pacing and storytelling hinder the universe’s interesting history to the point of disrepair.
It starts out well enough: the world of Earthsea is being thrown into disarray as its magic is slowly disappearing, famine is breaking out, and there are various other catastrophes, all of which land on the King of Enlad’s plate. His advisor, a wizard named Root, states that once the world was in balance, but due to a portion of mankind choosing material wealth as the most important thing, the other portion left and became dragons to retain their freedom, causing a schism between the two sections. Most importantly, if the balance between the two groups is resolved, there would be a possibility of the catastrophes ending and magic slowly returning. Unfortunately, before the King has much time to dwell on this he is murdered on the way back to his room by his son, Prince Arren, who then steals his father’s sword and escapes the city’s walls.