Four years after it opened in Japan, Goro Miyazaki’s adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin’s dragon-filled Earthsea fantasy cycle, will finally get a U.S. release on August 13th. Although Miyazaki’s film, which was the top-grossing Japanese-created film in Japan in the summer of 2006, has been shown in almost every other market in the world, it hasn’t been released in the U.S. because the SyFy Channel (then the Sci Fi Channel) aired a live-action Earthsea mini-series in 2004, which gave them exclusive U.S. rights for five years (see “Sci Fi Channel Blocking Miyazaki Film”).
Although a financial success Goro Miyazaki’s Tales From Earthsea has come in for more than its share of criticism. In Japan Goro’s work was compared unfavorably with that of his father, while Ursula Le Guin, who certainly didn’t enjoy the Sci Fi adaptation either, has also criticized the younger Miyazaki’s work as being “untrue to the spirit of Earthsea.” Still even its critics admit that Tales From Earthsea is visually stunning. It remains to be seen what sort of U.S. release that Tales From Earthsea will receive, and whether Ghibli and fantasy film fans who live outside of big cities will have to wait for the DVD release.