The latest from Studio Ghibli is a mini epic by Goro (son of Hayao) Miyazaki adapted from the work of Ursula K Le Guin. An admirable if uneven affair, it rejects humour and whimsy to tell its story of rival sorcerers locked in battle over the secret of eternal life and a young prince facing up to the responsibilities of adulthood. As usual, the hand-drawn animation is quietly lavish and a reliance on old-fashioned narrative progression makes a refreshing change from the many US animal-based digital knock-offs that too often feel like strings of unrelated gags. But as with 2005’s ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, a desire to over-egg the source novel’s contemporary relevance – in this case, environmental devastation – leaves things quickly overwhelmed by mawkish sentiment. Hardly a groundbreaking work, then, but still a worthy addition to the singular Ghibli canon.
Friday August 3 2007
Goro Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa