Posted by psgels on 8 July 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


Gedo Senki, the first attempt of Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki at making a movie. From the things I read about it, it was supposed to have gotten rather bad reviews. But after having seen it, I have to say: it’s not that bad. It definitely beats Gonzo’s attempts of Brave Story and Giniro no Kami no Agito.

One thing that becomes clear quite soon is the fact that Goro just doesn’t have the same amount of imagination. Because of this, Gedo Senki didn’t turn out into such an outrageous setting as Howl’s Moving Castle, or Spirited Away for example. Instead, he comes with a children’s adventure, and tries to make up for the lack of imagination with a huge degree of realism. The different characters really feel real, and are fleshed out in a relatively short amount of time.

The thing I liked about this movie is that it doesn’t really try to be anything more than it is. Sure, it starts out with a king and a prince, with a dying country, but soon it boils down to just the adventure between Arren and Teru, the two adults that take care of them, and the antagonists Usagi and Kumo. I was surprised to find out that the fate of the world actually doesn’t play a big role, and that the focus really fell on the characters, unlike other movies of the fantasy-genre.

Still, the fact remains that Goro has a lot to learn. The fact remains that the start that seemed to suggest lots of dragons and politics is rather misleading, and many questions that were asked in this introduction weren’t answered (either that, or I didn’t pick them up when I watched the raw). There are also, despite the realism, quite a few convenient coincidences. The real bad part, though, is the ending. I don’t know why, but it seemed that Goro found it a good idea to go with a Disney-ending, complete with one heck of a blatant Deus ex Machina.

The fact that the biggest part of the anime doesn’t try to be anything big is a double-edged sword. The movie is focused now, and it takes its time, but on the other hand, it’s not a big spectacle. You won’t hear people talk about how awesome this movie was. Still, like most movies, Gedo Senki looks great in the graphical department. It’s interesting, as you wouldn’t suspect that it’s a 2006-anime, since there hardly is any CG, but the style fits perfectly.

10 Responses

  1. Avatar daRAT says:

    Have you read the EarthSea series that this anime was based on?

    There isn’t any over the top scenes as in Howl’s Moving Castle, and the books were written for young adults (early to late teens). However Le Guin can write and write well so even adults will enjoy the books.

    It looks as if neither SciFi channel or Goro has been able to adapt the books well, I know LeGuin was not happy with SciFi channels version and I think I read somewhere that she was that pleased with the anime version either.

  2. Avatar jo says:

    ugh – really hate deus ex machina endings – so cliche

  3. Well the original “Gedo Senki” (roughly, “Tales From Earthsea”) was written originally written by the godly Ursula K.Le Guin, who also unapproved of the movie, saying it “wasn’t her story.” I still look forward to seeing it in 2009 when it gets released here in theaters, though.

  4. psgels psgels says:

    Well, from the things I read about it, it does seem to be very loosely based on the original novel, and something tells me that Ursula K.Le uin had something else in mind. Also, if she indeed is godly, then I can imagine that Gedo Senki didn’t do her justice.

  5. just wanted to say
    your blog here is the best i’ve ever seen.
    your GARGATUAN amount of anime intake is absurbly breathtaking and you never cease to amaze me when i think “AHA! i bet you haven’t watched THIS one yet…er. wtf you have..?!”

    hahaha seriously
    i think i’ll abandon all other blogs i’ve been skimming through and just go directly to this one :^D

  6. psgels psgels says:

    Heh, thanks for the compliment. ^_^

    It’s indeed true that I’ve watched a lot of the present anime (heck, I watched the first episode of every show that came out since spring 2006), but I still need to catch up to a huge amount of older series. To give an example, I still have to finish Cowboy Bebop and Fullmetal Alchemist, and I’ve yet to see Princess Mononoke. ^^;

  7. Avatar kacpy says:

    To be honest… I wasn’t expecting anything, and I was still disappointed. Not because of the story (although I’ll get to it in a minute) voice acting, music or even Goro’s directing, but because of the animation.

    The desert/wolves chase was simply put of godawful quality – the mishmash of first and 2nd plan artistry was HORRENDOUS.

    You know how in most US cartoons and animu the backgrounds and objects with some animation (like a shelf or bricks, which are part of the backdrop) sometimes (usually?) have different colors and do not mix well… well I seriously have not expected to see this many mismatched colors in a 2006 ghibli production. Laputa had higher quality than this and it was 20 years ago.

    And the story… well, as I said, I didn’t mind it at all – although it wasn’t developped as nicely as it could have IMHO, I still was quite into it and I really liked the (boss and) finale… but then came THE TWIST. The dragon bit felt SO RANDOM and FARFETCHED to me that it ruined the whole movie experience.

  8. Avatar Mister Never says:

    Yeah.. I have to admit Gedo Senki was no Sen to Chihiro Kamikakushi but then again… It wasn’t a Hayao film and to be honest… It’s Ursula K. Le Guin’s own fault. Here is a quote from her website:

    “Twenty or so years ago, Mr Hayao Miyazaki wrote me expressing interest in making an animated film based on the (then only three) books of Earthsea. I did not know his work. I knew only Disney-type animation, and disliked it. I said no.”*

    Then she changes her mind:

    “Six or seven years ago, my friend Vonda N. McIntyre told me about My Neighbor Totoro and we watched it together. I became a Miyazaki fan at once and forever.”*

    “Some years later, when I found that the delightful Japanese translator of the later Earthsea books, Ms Masako Shimizu, knew Mr Hayao Miyazaki, I asked her to tell him that, if he was still interested in Earthsea, I would welcome talking with him about a film.”*

    I’ve learned one thing from dealing with people in Japan… say what you mean, and mean what you say. Gedo Senki could have been an amazing film if Ms. Le Guin had taken the time 20 years ago to watch Kaze no Tani no Naushika or
    Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta instead of lumping Studio Gibri into the same category as Disney.

    *quotes taken from:
    http://www.ursulakleguin.com/GedoSenkiResponse.html

  9. Avatar naneya says:

    For normal one anime movie, I think it’s OK.

    But, to be a ghibil film, I think Gedo senki is lame.

  10. Avatar Wyrdwad says:

    So I finally watched this movie… and to be honest, I think it’s actually one of my favorite Studio Ghibli films now! I don’t know what all the hubbub was about… I really, really enjoyed this movie! Everything, from the characters to the pacing to the gorgeous Shinkai-esque visuals, was just perfect. I even liked the ending! The only things that bothered me were a few plot inconsistencies here and there, plus a handful of scenes that felt kinda preachy, and one scene where Therru suddenly seemed to behave in a manner not consistent with her previous personality development (when she sang that song, and then just sat down and talked with Arren as if she had never been mad at him at all!).

    For those who say this didn’t have the typical Studio Ghibli charm, I say, you’re wrong! It did… it was just a bit different. In much the way Takahata Isao and Miyazaki Hayao have distinctly different styles, the two Hayaos also have very distinctly different styles. I hope the relative media blasting of this movie doesn’t discourage Goro from working on more films in the future, as the guy’s definitely got some talent!

    -Tom

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