Ghibli Earthsea trailer

Studio Ghibli has released a second trailer for Gedo Senki, a.k.a. Tales from Earthsea. You may have to right-click that link and download a copy to disk before you can view it. The first trailer is also available, from the Online Ghibli website. Both trailers are mostly images with music, with only a few spoken phrases (in Japanese).

Quasi-spoilers for trailers follow:

This trailer reinforces my previous thought about the movie: it may well turn out to be a great Studio Ghibli movie, but it sure isn't going to look anything like my mental image of the Earthsea books (or at least not of the characters from the books). It looks like anime, as you would expect from Ghibli.

I still don't quite get why most of the Le Guin fans I've seen comment on it seem excited about this movie. I keep hearing comments that I interpret as indicating that people expect this version to be much truer to the books than the Sci Fi Channel's version was, but I'm pretty dubious about the likelihood of that happening. Le Guin has posted a detailed synopsis of the new movie; I didn't read it in detail, 'cause it appears to contain major spoilers for the whole movie (as you'd expect from a synopsis), but at first glance it looks like a sequel to the original trilogy rather than a film version of those books. But perhaps it's just that people are expecting something that's truer to the spirit of Le Guin's books, rather than truer to the plot? Or maybe people are just reacting to the fact that Le Guin hasn't spoken out against it--she says she's going to keep quiet about it until she sees the actual movie.

Note, btw, that all the characters appear to be white (or at least have Standard Anime Pale Skin) in this version too.

10 Responses to “Ghibli Earthsea trailer”

  1. David Moles

    I read it in detail, and without any spoiling as such, I’d say it looks like it’s more or less based on The Farthest Shore, with a little bit of Tehanu thrown in. With some changes to the characters and various extra Ghibli stuff.

    Hope it’ll be good. I never read Howl’s Moving Castle, and I didn’t think the movie was Miyazaki’s best work, but I did hear that the stuff I liked most about it was pretty much all not in the book. So I expect the changes will at least make for a good story.

  2. Aliette de Bodard

    I browsed through the synopsis, it does sound like the Farthest Shore. I have to agree that while the art is nice, it doesn’t at all tally with my image of Earthsea (I imagined something a lot less…Western, let’s say. In particular, there’s a castle at several points in the trailer which severely jars with my mental Earthsea).

    Yep, I noted everyone was standard anime white as well (though I was a bit too busy noting the obviously European buildings to really focus on that).

    I’m not sure if I want to see it. As a studio Ghibli movie, yeah, sure. But as an Earthsea movie…I, too, get this strong feeling it’s going to fall short of what I expect. But then again, I’m nearly sure any Earthsea movie would fall short of the books themselves.

  3. David Moles

    Gonna have to wait for the Indonesian version.

  4. Dan P


    The SciFi channel mini didn’t seem to grasp any of the spirit of the story… based on the trailer and a quick glimpse at the summary, I’m expecting that Studio Ghibli managed a little under half.

  5. Chris Castro

    I think we have to give Studio Ghibli a little more credit. The film is obviously not going to stay absolutely true to Earthsea. It’s seldom any book-to-film transition is ever the way readers truly imagined it. I for one am excited that one of my favorite studios is interested in LeGuin’s stories. I’m sure it will be an entertaining movie. Besides, do we all imagine anything exactly the same way?

  6. Jed

    Thanks for the notes, all. Some further thoughts:

    I’m certainly willing to believe that the resulting movie will be a good story, and visually attractive, and a good movie on its own terms.

    The aspect that confuses me is that I haven’t seen much evidence that this movie is going to get any of the things “right” (in terms of faithfulness of adaptation) that the Sci Fi Channel version got wrong (except for the part-of-the-right-spirit that Dan mentioned). And my impression (which may have been totally wrong) was that a lot of fans who hated the SFC version were approaching this version with a sort of “Finally, someone’s going to do it right” attitude.

    If I’m wrong, and most of the fans who are excited about it are actually thinking “Cool! A Ghibli movie that draws part of its inspiration from some cool books!”, then that clears up most of my confusion.

    I still think it’ll be interesting to see what Le Guin has to say about the skin colors.

    And btw, regarding the skin-color issue, I just came across a fascinating article that argues that characters in manga and anime are not meant to look caucasian–and in fact that they don’t look caucasian to Japanese people: The Face of the Other, by Matt Thorn, a cultural anthropologist who lives in Japan and teaches at the School of Cartoon and Comic Art at Kyoto Seika University. If he’s right, then this isn’t a case of the movie making all the characters caucasian; rather, it’s a case of (more or less) making them all Japanese. That’s still not what Le Guin intended, but I think it casts an interesting light on the issue.

    …Oh, and regarding the Western look of the buildings: over on Ghibli World, there’s a bit about Hayao Miyazaki advising the staff of Gedo Senki to look at European paintings, especially Claude Lorrain. Goro Miyazaki apparently also suggested looking at Brueghel and Bosch. And someone suggested looking at paintings of ancient ruins by Caspar David Freidrich and Arnold Bocklin. So it looks like the European architecture was intentional. Also, Hayao Miyazaki apparently described the world of the movie as “A world where people are building a termite nest at a magnificent place that was once a capital.”

  7. Aliette de Bodard

    The article about the anime was fascinating, thanks.

    I suspected the Western look of the building was intentional (I was thinking a cross between Renaissance Italy, Byzantium and Scotland 😉 ), but now you’ve mentioned it, you can see the influence of those ruins-painter in the movie–sorry, I’ve never been able to forget my art lessons. It’s just the mental image of Earthsea I have doesn’t include Western building (or, at any rate, not Italian ruins).

  8. Ted

    Thanks for the link to the article about faces in anime. I had always suspected something similar, so it’s nice to read a cultural anthropologist make the same argument.

  9. Anonymous

    What I’ve come to think about Miyazaki and Ghibli movies is that they want to capture the themes of the original story, but often end up changing and modifying it. I don’t think it’s necessarely a bad thing that Earthsea won’t follow the books very closely. Even if it’s different it will probably still be very good, just in different ways. What I’m curious about is the director. Who is this guy? I know Hayao Miyazaki’s been trying to retire for a long time. Is Goro Miyazaki taking over for him, or can we expect more movies directed by Hayao Miyazaki?

  10. Matias

    What a pitty! Both Miyazaki and UKL are great artists, but I find nothing (or almost) of UKL’s world in those trilers :S It may be a nice movie, but not Earthsea really.

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