Dragging Myself to 400 Anime: Tales from Earthsea and Venus Wars

You notice that I’ve decided to modify this series’ name because of the slow progress your humble blogger has made.  At present, I’ve seen six anime in sixteen days.  Life has the unfortunate ability of messing with one’s desires–be they as simple as writing a series of posts.  In any case, I have included two reviews into a single post, and I am happy to say that both films were well worth watching.

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Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro had the honor of directing this fantasy adventure.  Many elements feel exactly like your usual Studio Ghibli film, except that the film is both darker and more down to earth than a film directed by Hayao Miyazaki.  One gets this sense despite the medieval setting, the use of magic, and dragons.  I almost imagine this father and son pair of directors like the central figures of Raphael’s School of Athens: like Plato, Hayao points to the heavens, but Goro, like Aristotle, keeps his arm level, as if saying that we should create more realistic tales.  This attitude was somewhat refreshing in a Studio Ghibli film. Goro has some way to go in perfecting this style, but now I want to see his Up from a Poppy Hill and Sanzoku no Musume.

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One of the biggest surprises of the film lies in where it starts: Prince Arren stabs his father the king, steals his father’s sword, and flees the kingdom.  He is pursued by guilt and likely insane.  He meets the arch mage Sparrowhawk, who takes him on as a traveling companion.  The two become involved in adventures and eventually clash with the evil Mage Cob.

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The main theme of the film stood as reconciling with one’s conscience.  The prince imagines himself pursued by something.  I thought perhaps they were vengeful spirits, like the Furies who pursued Orestes for killing his mother, Clytemnestra.  *Spoiler!*  It turns out that Arren is pursued by his conscience/better self/higher soul.  He only achieves peace when he admits his guilt and resolves to face justice for his misdeed. 

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Also, it was awesome how well Timothy Dalton, possibly the best Bond, did the voice of Sparrowhawk.  His voice fit the role so perfectly that I did not recognize it was him!  The film deserves the following score, which might be a tad conservative on my part:

★★★ 1/2

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Venus Wars (1989)

One has to love Venus Wars for the detail it put into every frame.  At times, one’s mouth is agape at how minutely every nut, bolt, and scrap of metal is drawn: I am reminded of how the hero of Tolkien’s Leaf by Niggle made each leaf in his masterpiece unique.  Having written that, the story and characters are just okay, despite how cool the latter are.  One watches Venus Wars for the battles and animation.

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Our story follows Hiro (of course that would be his name) of a racing team/gang who decide to take on the enemy force who occupied their city.  That’s the story in a nutshell!  But, this film is a treat for the eyes and must be seen rather than read about.  I award it the following rating:

★★★ 1/2

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Next, I shall try to get through Tamala 2010: Punk Cat in Space.  I failed miserably on my first attempt, so wish me luck!  If I can’t stand it, it will become the first anime I’ve rated 1/2 a star in a while. 🙂

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4 comments on “Dragging Myself to 400 Anime: Tales from Earthsea and Venus Wars

  1. I believe you will enjoy From Up On Poppy Hill.

  2. Josh W says:

    I think Miyazaki cited Ursula Le Guin as a creative influence on him, so I find it interesting that the directorial duties for the adaptation of her Earthsea novels were passed on to his son. Still haven’t seen it either, I’m afraid.

Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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