So apparently, our beloved Ghibli Studio has decided to work on their very first TV show.
Okay, it looks cool. I’m on board. What is it about?
Well, it’s an adaptation of Astrid Lindgren’s well-known children’s book Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter.
Look. We have to talk. I want to be excited about this project. I really do. However, there is one about this project that could potentially make it go really, really wrong.
I love Studio Ghibli. However, when it comes to adapting western literature… They kind of blow it every time.
The most recent adaptations they’ve done are Arrietty and Tales from Earthsea. While I certainly don’t hate Arietty, this mainly because of its gorgeous soundtrack, we all remember the boring mess that was Tales from Earthsea. Plus, even as someone who did not hate Arrietty, in the end I have only watched it once. That’s usually the sign that I don’t like a Studio Ghibli movie that much. This has only happened twice, by the way. You know what those two movies are?
… Tales from Earthsea and Arrietty.
I think you got the point.
Why, though? Why does Studio Ghibli fail every time they try to put together an adaptation of a western book? Well, every Studio Ghibli movie has that certain flavour that makes them a Studio Ghibli movie and not anything else. It’s in the looks, it’s in the characters, it’s in the atmosphere, and it’s also in the story. However different the stories are, I find that they usually have something in common: they are always very much Japanese. It may sound obvious, but then try to apply that to a Western story.
Every time they’ve tried that, it’s been bland at best. At worst, it made me want to bash my skull with the back of my chair. Now, you may say “but hey, you said Arrietty wasn’t that bad!”
Yes. I did not hate Arrietty. It had a gorgeous soundtrack and little people running around a house, so I can’t physically bring myself to hate it. But it was also written by Hayao Miyazaki.
Not that there was anything wrong with the way Tales from Earthsea looked, mind you. Goro Miyazaki is a fine director. He’s just not a very good writer. To be fair, I wanted to watch From Up On Poppy Hill to get an idea of how Goro Miyazaki has evolved in the past few years, but even if I don’t doubt that his second movie was way better than his first, well… Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay, so it does not count.
They chose Goro Miyazaki to direct Ronia, by the way. Now, let’s just pray for the writer(s) to be literally anybody else.