Animator Goro Miyazaki, son of the famous Hayao Miyazaki ("The Walt Disney of Japan"), makes his directorial debut with the animated feature Tales from Earthsea (aka Gedo Senki). Miyazaki loosely adapted the work from the third and fourth volumes in best-selling sci-fi author Ursula K. Le Guin's infamous series of cult novels -- all set in Earthsea, a Tolkien-esque fantasy realm. Gedo Senki opens at a point when Earthsea is deteriorating rapidly, and the power of magic is waning -- tendencies signaled by the sudden, frightening reappearance of dragons in the land of humankind. Ged Sparrowhawk was once a lowly goat herder but is now known as Lord Archmage, the most powerful of all wizards. He soon meets Prince Arren of Enlad -- a teenage boy chased by a "shadow," the force that is tipping the world out of balance and driving innumerable people to the point of insanity.
The men team up and journey to Hort Town, the Earthsea capital city, where they find the entire community turned upside down -- craftsmen have abandoned their trades, slavery runs rampant, addicts clamor in the streets. They ultimately find refuge in the priestess Tenar's palace, also occupied by the scarred orphan girl Therru. While the latter initially avoids Arren in fear of his "dark side," Arren bides his time in the nearby fields, being mentored by Ged on the balance of creation. Therru eventually opens up to Arren, but he grows increasingly disturbed by nightmares about being chased by the shadow, and his daytime fear of it grows absolutely overwhelming. Ged then discovers that the cause of the kingdom-wide "imbalance" is actually his old arch nemesis, the wizard Cob, who has opened up the gateway between the living and the dead, and hopes to attain eternal life, meanwhile plotting to murder Ged in vengeance for an act he committed long ago.
In fear of his evil self, Arren absconds from Tenar's palace -- actively fleeing from the shadow -- but ultimately faints and turns up at the castle of Cob. The latter's minions give their guest "hazia," which causes him to lose his bearings and tell Cob his real name. Arren thus becomes enslaved to the wizard. Meanwhile, Ged and Therru turn up, and bring Arren back to full awareness. With their assistance, he is able to surmount the temptation of eternal life; he then does an about face, and, with the assistance of an enchanted sword, prepares to do battle with Cob. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi