Tales From Earthsea Review: Studio Ghibli’s Weakest Film?

After watching Goro Miyazaki’s Tales From Earthsea, I went online to try and find out what had happened during this movie.
What I found was that many considered this film to be the weakest of all the Studio Ghibli films, which honestly does not surprise me.
Based off the book series by Ursula K. Le Guin, Tales From Earthsea is a slow, confusing film that left me with multiple questions but not in a good way.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, the film follows disgraced prince Arren (Junichi Okada) who encounters a wizard named Sparrowhawk (Bunta Sugawara), who reminded me a lot of Lord Yupa from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. 
The film then aimlessly follows these two characters, both of which have little to no agency.

sparrowhawk and arren
Arren has no goal for the majority of the film. Shadowhawk does but this just results in him wandering around until he conveniently finds where he is supposed to go.

This lack of agency eventually results in them taking refuge with Sparrowhawk’s old friend Tenar (Jun Fubuki) and the girl in her care Therru (Aoi Teshima).
Oh, and there’s an evil wizard who wants eternal life that is thrown in there for good measure (Yūko Tanaka).
In all seriousness, I spent an incredibly large portion of the film wondering what the plot of Tales From Earthsea was.
As I said, the characters have little to no agency.
They just spend the majority of the film on a farm talking before the plot suddenly propels them into a confusing finale that left me baffled.
There’s this weird thing about characters having two names and an even weirder dragon scene that isn’t explained.
I had absolutely no idea what was going on during the ending.

Therra something
The third act of this film is confusing, raising way more questions than it answers.

Not only this but some of the characters’ actions make no sense or are not explained.
Probably the worst case of this is our hero Arren.
A terrible act he commits at the beginning of the film is not explained well and it leads to some weird spiritual thing happening within him that feels entirely lacking in substance.
Also, why was Arren a prince anyway?
That had no significance whatsoever.

Arren is without a doubt in my mind the weakest Studio Ghibli protagonist I have seen so far.

I’m not going to act like the film is completely terrible though.
Even though a lot of the animation is average, there are a couple of stunning shots here and there.
I also found myself liking Shadowhawk’s character, with one great scene where he uses his magic being very funny.
Overall though, Tales From Earthsea is a confusing film with mostly uncompelling characters and an aimless plot that left me scratching my head.
I have to agree with the majority of people in saying that this is Studio Ghibli’s weakest film.

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