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Anime / Tales from Earthsea

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Don't let this fool you. The movie is NOT about dragons.

Tales from Earthsea (Gedo senki, "Ged's War Chronicles") is a Studio Ghibli animated film based on the first, third, and fourth novels in the Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin. The film was directed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of studio founder Hayao Miyazaki.

While this film is covered under the Disney/Ghibli distribution deal, licensing issues with the SciFi Channel miniseries had prevented it from being released in North America. It finally hit US shores in August of 2010, with the dub cast featuring the likes of Willem Dafoe, Timothy Dalton, and Mariska Hargitay.

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This film contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Orm Embar, Kalessin, the Children of the Sea and Therru's father.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness / Informed Deformity: Therru. In the original books she suffered from third-degree burns on her face. In the movie, the left side of it is somewhat redder than the rest of her skin. Interestingly, slave-traders still call her ugly.
  • Adaptation Distillation: It's a mix of several of the books. Le Guin said what confused her most about the film was that she kept expecting it to follow one of the original plots. If you really want to be specific it mixes the storyline of The Farthest Shore with some elements of Tehanu.
  • An Aesop: Don't fear death, it's what gives life its meaning.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Tenar is disliked and distrusted for her magic by village women who still want free magic.
  • Broken Bird: Therru.
  • But Now I Must Go: Arren decides to return to Enlad to turn himself in for murdering his father, but he promises Therru that he will see her again.
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  • Climbing Climax: On to the top of a castle tower.
  • Color-Coded Patrician: Arren's purple robe.
  • Cool Sword: Apparently, you need magic to draw it, so it gets one flashy action scene where the scabbard is enough, and another when it's not. Otherwise, it has one conspicuous failure in the opening sequence, and is understandably mistaken for junk.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster above is supposed to make you think that the movie is about a boy who rides a dragon. Turns out the dragons in the film have a very minor role.
  • Deus ex Machina: Therru being able to turn into a dragon.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The sword.
  • Expy: Hare is the spitting image of Kurotowa from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and fulfills a similar role. Even his men resemble Torumekian soldiers.
    • In fact, the film borrows heavily from several of Ghibli's previous films, which may or may not be intentional.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Cob is burned alive by Dragon!Therru.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: There is a few in this film. For example:
    • In the opening, there are two dragons fighting each other, and the fight ends when one of the dragons tears the other's throat out (although no gore is shown, only a rather moderate amount of blood).
    • Later, when Arren's father, the king, is walking down a hall to his chambers, Arren sneaks up to him and plunges a knife into his stomach! The pool of blood leaking near him doesn't help either.
    • At the end of the film, once Arren finally unsheathes his sword, he charges at Cob and cuts his right hand off. The severed limb is laying in a pool of blood. However, Cob reattaches his hand.
  • Fantastic Drug: Hazia. It takes away pain and worries, but is highly addictive.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Arren rides what seems to resemble a fluffy, long-eared llama (which is still called a horse, for some reason). Riding beasts that resemble oxen also seem to be in use.
    • Arren's mount is possibly in the noble line of Ghibli Expys, a copy of Ashitaka's red elk Yakul.
  • I Know Your True Name: The name is the thing, and the truename is the true thing. Know the truename, and you can control the thing.
  • I Lied: Cob, naturally. Hare also pulls this on two old ladies.
  • Immortality Immorality: The main bad guy dreams of being immortal. This is said to be against the balance of the world, as one having eternal life will make everyone else's life a living Hell as a side-effect.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: When Therru tells Arren her true name. Also, she defeats Cob by turning into a dragon after he strangles her to death. It's never really explained why she can do this.
    • We are given two extremely small hints: Root (the king's wizard/advisor from the beginning) mentions that humans and dragons used to be the same race, and when Sparrowhawk first sees Therru he remarks that there's something strange about her.
  • James Bondage: Played straight with Ged, not so straight with Arren at the same time.
  • Karma Houdini: For all his repulsiveness, Hare gets away scot-free in the end.
    • Subverted with Arren; he decides to turn himself in for killing his father.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Cob dismisses how Sparrowhawk comes into his stronghold to save Tenar as foolishness unbecoming of a mage.
  • Made a Slave: Nearly happens twice.
  • The Magic Goes Away: The film's main conflict is about the magic fading due to Lord Cob upsetting the balance of the world. Once Cob is destroyed and the balance is restored, the magic returns.
  • Mukokuseki: Le Guin, while acknowledging awareness that these characters look "stateless" to the Japanese, thought they looked too white. She was happy that there was variety to the tone and Tenar had Kargic/Nordic coloring.
  • Mythology Gag: Albeit more somber, Tenar mentions Atuan quite a few times.
  • Not Good with People: Therru switches between painfully shy, when talking to someone named 'Sparrowhawk', but the first thing she says to Arren is "Did you come here to kill this lamb?"
    • Although Therru and Arren's relationship is another trope entirely.
  • Not Himself: Arren's surprisingly violent attempt to dispatch the slavers without once drawing his sword.
  • Oedipus Complex: Introduced then abandoned in the first 10 minutes.
  • One-Winged Angel: A heroic version. Towards the end of the film, Therru transforms into a dragon.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They look like traditional Western dragons mostly, are creatures that chose "air and fire" when humans chose "earth and sea" and seeing two of them fighting and the beginning of the film is a sign that bad times are there.
  • Patricide: Committed by Arren in the beginning of the film, the reason for him running away.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Therru and Arren. Therru's dress is a combination of pink and red, Arren has a blue tunic on for most of the movie.
  • Plucky Girl: Therru, later in the film.
  • Portent of Doom: The sightings of dragons fighting is taken to be a sign that the balance of the world is greatly upset, perhaps irreparably.
  • The Quiet One: Arren.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: Opening scenes.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Arren murders his father for seemingly no reason at the start of the film.
  • Scenery Porn: It wouldn't be a Studio Ghibli movie without it!
  • Shadow Archetype: Inverted. Throughout the movie, Arren is pursued by a shadow in his form. As a matter of fact, the Arren we watch for most of the movie is actually Arren's shadow, and is fleeing in fear from the noble and courageous self he refuses to acknowledge, instead blaming it for all the violence and fear he's lived through.
  • Shrinking Violet: Both Arren and Therru show aspects of this.
  • Slave Market: The city to which Arren and Sparrowhawk arrive has a booming slave trade, and it's not long until the hero runs afoul of Hare and rescues Theru from the said slavers.
  • Slipknot Ponytail: Therru's hair-things come loose at the climax of the movie.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Arren's problem.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Whenever Arren uses the sword.
    • Also, Therru becomes a dragon...somehow.
  • Tranquil Fury: Arren/shadow/something. Non-lethally.
  • Tsundere: Therru.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Cob gets a lot less sane—and less human—once Arren starts fighting back.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Arren's father, the king of Enlad, is only shown in the prologue before he is murdered by his own son.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Cob is...not a threatening name for a wizard.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Hare has no qualms in assaulting Arren when he's taking a nap.
    • Cob even applies, when he almost crushes Arren's heart with a spell. He even strangles Therru to death. She survives.
  • You Have Failed Me: Subverted as when Hare fails (by losing the slaves) he reveals an opportunity for something far more important to his boss (a chance to capture Arren) and is spared.


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