“...American Novelist...” by Julie Phillips
Gedo Senki: Responses from Correspondents
I am receiving many emails from Japan about "Gedo Senki," some passionately defending the film, some very disappointed in it. A correspondent in Japan sent a thoughtful, interesting letter about this division of opinion, and has allowed me to quote from it.
From a Correspondent in Japan
I saw your comments on the Ghibli film today, after having watched it some days ago. I suspect many have already written to you about the discussion on the Japanese Internet sites. There is a distinct division, and while many are devastated by the movie, there are also many who are elated with it. Strangely enough, those who are elated often respond with hostility to the ones who are devastated, while the opposite is rarely seen.
Simply put, the Ghibli movie is a story of a boy who kills his father without cause, and of what happens to him after he then runs away. The other characters trust and succor him despite the fact, saving him whenever it seems everything is lost. Apparently, many in the elated group find the film gives them will to live. The fervor with which they defend it brings to mind someone lost in a maze who has just found an engraving of an arrow on a door, only to be told by another traveler that the corridor behind it is a dead end.
Between the two sides there are people who try to bridge the divide, responding to the accusations and pain with logic and compassion. The entire situation feels eerily like some scenes in the books themselves - e.g. where the mages of Roke are divided about the creeping change, or Dragonfly, or the wall.
(And more recently the same correspondent observed of those who most ardently defend the movie:)
The ones affected the most are in a sense the most open and innocent. They only know that they have been moved, are happy and relieved when the boy lays aside his guilt and anxiety at the end, and so hurt by the more objective viewpoints that they tend to go on the offensive. Some are still willing to think, some are swayed by your comments (which they read with a dictionary) and sadly some can't abide any criticism of the movie, protecting the director and blaming its incoherence on the books. Even so, they all are victims of the chain reaction which started when too much responsibility was shouldered by someone not equipped for it.
Copyright © 2006 by Ursula K. Le Guin