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Tales from Earthsea is Hayao Miyazaki's son Goro's directorial debut. While Hayao Miyazaki had long wanted to create an anime adaptation of LeGuin's novels, he only received permission to do so when he was already busy with Howl's Moving Castle. His son Goro instead directed this film, which draws characters and events from LeGuin's Earthsea series but is not a faithful adaptation of any one novel. While the elder Miyazaki ultimately approved the film, much drama surrounded its creation; father and son were not on speaking terms while Tales from Earthsea was being produced. LeGuin has similarly expressed mixed feelings about this adaptation of her work.
The movie opens with a ship that sees two dragons fighting in the middle of a storm, a definite sign of trouble and unbalance, and the king of Earthsea discussing the many problems that are plaguing his kindgom. However, the king is attacked and stabbed by a young man, soon revealed to be the prince, Arren, who takes his father's magic sword and runs. On the run and terrified, Arren is meets a wizard named Sparrowhawk, who invites Arren to travel with him. The two reach a large port city where Arren has a run-in with some slavers who are attempting to capture a young girl with a scarred face; he drives the men off, but the girl, Therru, runs away as well. The angry slavers capture Arren in his sleep, but Sparrowhawk uses a spell to find and rescue Arren from the slavers. He takes the injured boy to a peaceful farm owned by Tenar. Therru also lives with Tenar after being abused and abandoned by her parents.
Arren and Sparrowhawk help with the farm work, and eventually Therru begins to speak to and trust Arren. However, their peace is destroyed when the slavers, who are actually henchmen of Lord Cob (a creepy but powerful wizard), show up looking for Sparrowhawk. Arren leaves the farm because he is afraid that his violent "shadow" self will reappear, but both the shadow and Lord Cob soon find him. He is taken to Lord Cob's castle and told that if he helps Lord Cob, they can together gain eternal life. The henchmen return to the farm and take Tenar hostage, and Sparrowhawk rushes to Cob's castle as well. He is captured after fighting both the henchmen and a confused Arren. Therru follows the others to the castle, carrying Arren's magic sword. She convinces Arren to fight and the two decide to save Sparrowhawk and Tenar.
Arren and Therru prevent Cob from killing Sparrowhawk and Tenar, and Arren uses his sword (which he previously could not draw from its sheath) to attack Cob. However, Cob is obsessed with immortality and desperately attempts to avoid death. He grabs Therru and flees. Arren follows, but Cob hinders him with magic and strangles Therru. However, Therru does not die and instead becomes a dragon, thus saving Arren and killing Cob.
Tales from Earthsea is generally considered one of Studio Ghibli's weakest movies. Both LeGuin and Hayao Miyazaki expressed mixed feelings about it, and it was awarded "Worst Movie" of the year in Bunshun's Raspberry Awards. However, it did top the Japanese box office for five weeks and received some critics' approval.
|異変~竜 (Ihen: Tatsu)|
|黄昏の兆し (Tasogare no Kizashi)|
|黄昏の兆し (Haitaka: Toubousha)|
|迷い~追われる者 (Mayoi: Owareru Mono)|
|野へ (No he)|
[To the Fields]
|大地の人 (Daichi no Hito)|
[Man of the Land]
|棘と傷心~悪党 (Ira to Shoushin: Akutou)|
[Biting Words and Grief: Scoundrel]
|追憶~老店主の忠告 (Tsuioku: Routenshu no Chuukoku)|
[Recollection: The Warning of the Old Shopkeeper]
|挿入歌「テルーの唄」 映画バージョン（アカペラ） 歌/手嶌 葵 (Sounyuka "Teruu no Uta" Eiga Baajon (Akapera))|
[Insert Song "Teru's Song" Movie version (a capella)]
|Vocals: Aoi Teshima||2:31|
|別れ~影の恐怖 (Wakare: Kage no Kyoufu)|
[Parting: Fear of Shadows]
|強奪~不死の誘惑 (Goudatsu: Fushi no Yuuwaku)|
[Extortion: The Temptation of Immortality]
|急行~対峙 (Kyuukou: Taiji)|
|光と影 (Hikari to Kage)|
[Light and Shadow]
|真の名~目覚め (Shin no Na: Mezame)|
[True Name: Awakening]
|死の呪い~狂気 (Shi no Noroi: Kyouki)|
[Curse of Death: Madness]
|命の火 (Inochi no Hi)|
[Fire of Life]
|終わりと始まり ~主題歌「時の歌」 歌/手嶌 葵~エンディング (Owari to Hajimari: Shudaika "Toki no Uta")|
[Ending and Beginning: Theme Song "Song of Time"]
|Vocals: Aoi Teshima||8:36|