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In 2001 during the year of the first released issue of W.I.T.C.H., I was a 12 year old girl still in the sixth grade, constantly drawing anime style characters, such as Sailor Moon. My drawings were quite terrible (I am self-taught in free-hand drawing and I have never took a drawing class). I didn't know of W.I.T.C.H.'s existence until I saw a commercial about a new animated series called W.I.T.C.H. on the Jetix channel. At the time, I didn't pay much attention to it because I was into "Digimon". A few months later when it was mid-way through the first season, I got bored enough to watch an episode. At first, I thought that it was interesting and decent for a cartoon, but I wasn't entire hooked yet. A few weeks later after watching my first W.I.T.C.H. episode on television, my family took me and my younger brother to the nearby bookstore. There, I saw the American (slightly censored) version of the original comic series. At first, I thought that it was one of those silly comic adaptations from the animated series, never realizing it was actually the other way around until I did some research. I sat there in the bookstore reading the very first 6 issues compacted into 3 books and immediately saw how much of big difference it is from the animated series. I started to watch more episodes of the series, including the ones that I missed. Then I started to do some more research on its history. By the the time I was done, I was officially hooked. I fell in love with its unique story-telling and artistic style and felt that there was a certain charm to it that I have never felt before. After waiting months on end for the American released, I got impatient and went online instead. To my luck, I was able to find a gold mine of comic scans and began to read them ravenously. Eventually, I caught up with everyone and waited for a new issue released every month with great anticipation.
After years of reading WITCH, I began to notice the differences in the comics as it transitioned itself from one saga to the next. I noticed the changes in the art styles, then the story-telling, then the entire thing which, I admittedly thought, was crap (the changes, not the entire WITCH universe). What was once a magical experience, I found WITCH now somewhat tasteless and a shell of its former glory. There were still some issues that I thought were still good, while others were so terrible and childish that it made me preferred its rival, Winx Club, more than itself (Yes, it's that bad). I am now very disappointed that WITCH isn't as great as it used to be, and I find myself criticizing some of its new issues even more. Some people might ask me, "If you don't like it, then why bother continuing to read it?" My only answer is because I can't find myself to hate it entirely. W.I.T.C.H. has been around for a while and I fell in love with it as a teenager. Despite losing some of its magical touch, there are still some moments which I thought were wonderful enough for me to continue reading.
After ten years, W.I.T.C.H. has changed greatly, but personally, I still find that it still has that certain amount of charm that I just couldn't discard easily. W.I.T.C.H. comics has been a great inspiration to me in more ways than one, and to this day I am grateful to it. After drawing countless works, I finally made a small switch to WITCH art style. Although not best at first (as I'm still learning) I suddenly find myself drawing my own W.I.T.C.H. fanart calendar series, started my very first fan-comic side story of C.H.Y.K.N. (WITCH's predecessors), and now I'm slowly developing my new idea for a full blown WITCH fan-saga (called WITCH: Dreams of Lusteria)!
Name: Galistar07water (or just galistar) Role: Guardian of Arts Age: 27 Race: Human Gender: Female Ethnicity: Vietnamese Religion: Buddhist Hobbies: Read, Write, Draw, and Study films Favorite Films: Too many to list Favorite Books: A lot, too much to list What I hate: the Twilight series and M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender Favorite Comic series: Disney's W.i.t.c.h. duh!
Current Residence: Southern California, United States of America Favorite music artists Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Adele, etc Favorite actor: Benedict Cumberbatch Favorite actress: Anne Hathaway Favorite genre of music: A lot of types, okay? Favorite style of art: Too many to list MP3 player of choice: Walkman (I don't like iPods) Favorite cartoon character: I have too many to list Personal Quote: If an artist's inspiration lacks uniqueness, then his work shall lack rareness.
Favorite visual artistUm...the crew who drew W.I.T.C.H. comic series!Favorite moviesInception, Batman: The Dark Knight, and a bunch of others that I won't bother to listFavorite TV showsAvatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, W.I.T.C.H., Winx Club, H2O: Just Add Water, Mako Mermaids, Code LyokoFavorite bands / musical artistsToo many to listFavorite writersJ.K. Rowling, James Moloney, Cornelia Funke, Alyson Noel, Mary Hoffman, Alison Croggon, and more...Favorite gamesAge of Mythology for PCOther InterestsDraw, Read, study films
Despite Howl's Moving Castle being a little bit underwhelming and confusing of a film, following the success of Spirited Away, it still raked in some popularity and grossed a lot of money. Seeing how successful Studio Ghibli was with Howl's Moving Castle, the novelist Ursula K. Le Guin finally allowed them to adapt her Earthseabook series into a film. In truth, the novelist saw the film My Neighbor Totoro a few years ago and finally allowed Studio Ghibli to adapt her books into a film. However, Hayo Miyazaki was currently busy doing Howl's Moving Castle at that time, and the reign fell on his son, Goro Miyazaki to direct this project. Tales From Earthsea is somewhat of a film that adapted themes from several books of the series into one. Not to say that this was a recipe for disaster, but in truth, father and son were already on bad terms at this point. Hayao didn't felt that his son have the necessary experience to direct a film and the two were not speaking to one another throughout the movie's development.
In truth, the first time I saw this film, it was a bit of a mess. Seeing it again, I must change my perspective. I actually enjoyed it. Perhaps a little bit more than Howl's Movie Castle, unfortunately there were some part that seemed underwhelming. The film opened to a spectacular scene of a group of people riding out a storm at sea. The weather wizard couldn't remember the true names of the wind and water to calm them down for the crew! Before the ship's captain and his men could figure things out, they witnessed two mighty dragons battling each other to the death! This is an unprecedented and impossible occurrence because dragons haven't been seen for centuries!
The scene then changed to a beautiful kingdom ruled by a wise and compassionate king who is also beloved by all of his people. The King of Enlad (Brian George) is troubled by news all over the kingdom: crops and harvests have failed, pestilences and diseases sprouting here and there, and people going insane! The Balance of the world is out of order and no one knows why! They received news of the dragons' battle from earlier and are very troubled by this news, not to mention the news of the king's missing son, Prince Arren (Matt Leven). Suddenly, the prince stabbed and killed his father in the dark hallway for no apparent reason and stole his father's magical sword, abandoning his kingdom. Already, this was a recipe for a great film as it leaves the audiences wondering why did this happened. Does the prince's sudden and unexplained behavior has something to do with this growing darkness that has upset the Balance of Earthsea? All in all, curiosity perked inside of us as we continued to watch and understand more of what was going on.
The film then introduced us to a lonely traveler, a powerful wizard by the name of Sparrowhawk (voiced by the incredible Timothy Dalton), also known as the Archmage. Sparrowhawk encountered Prince Arren on the run from hungry wolves and saved him. The two became traveling companions, going from place to place. They winded up in a huge city by the sea were not only do people trade and sell goods, but also slaves. Arren is haunted by something and is desperately trying to get away from it. Constantly paranoid, Arren hoped to seek a way out of misery and pain, but Sparrowhawk warned him against tempting the idea of drugs and other ways to escape such a thing. Pain and misery is a part of life and must be experienced by all mortals.
They are separated and Arren rescued a girl with a scar on her face from slave catchers, headed by Hare (Cheech Marin). Darkness overcame Arren, allowing him to defeat Hare and his minions from taking the girl, but the girl only saw Arren as a monster who doesn't value life rather than her savior. Arren is later captured and sold into slavery by Hare, but luckily is rescued by Sparrowhawk in the dead of the night. The wizard took his young friend to a a cottage in the middle of nowhere, belonging to a very special friend of his: a kind woman named Tenar (Mariska Hargitay). It turns out, the girl that Arren saved earlier is Tenar's adopted daughter, Therru (Blaire Restaneo). As expected, Therru viewed Arren with contempt, despite the prince showing a kind, shy and meek side.
Sparrowhawk and Arren stayed with the women for a while, helping them out on the farm. Little did they know that Hare is working for Cob (voiced by Willem Dafoe), an evil wizard who had a score to settle with Sparrowhawk and is doing what he can to become immortal, even resorting to the forbidden dark magic. It's up to Arren to save Sparrowhawk and his new friends with the help of Therru, all the while discovering for himself that life is precious because it is short.
The first two thirds of this film, I fairly enjoyed as I love seeing how the characters interact with one another. Once again, Studio Ghibli managed to make the smallest things in life that we take for granted seemed enjoyable to watch, whether its a wizard and his apprentice going around town or just helping around the farm. However it's the third arc of the film that fell apart. As established from the beginning, I was expecting something grand and big such as Arren and Therru finally restoring the Balance of the world by defeating the evil Cob. Did they actually did it? It was very unclear, leaving me wondering what did I missed. Despite the confusing and underwhelming ending, the entire film itself is a gem itself. Sadly, it's unappreciated by many, including fans of Studio Ghibli.
The characters themselves are very enjoyable and as always, Disney managed to select its cast perfectly for the English dubbed. Timothy Dalton's deep voice and kindness gives Sparrowhawk a very badass and awe-inspiring figure, reminding you that he is the Gandalf and the Dumbledore version in the world of Earthsea and you should not mess with him. Cheech Marin, the famous Mexican American comedian and actor did amazingly as the voice of Hare, the head henchman to the evil Cob. However, it is Willem Dafoe who took the prize in this entire dubbed cast as Cob. With his whispering voice, he really brings the creepiness, the evil, and the darkness into this terrifying figure. As the Nostalgia Critic once described, Dafoe's whispering voice is like a spider, crawling up and down on your back, always giving the the spine-tingling chills whenever Cob opened his mouth to speak. It was brilliant!
Overall, while I do think that Tales From Earthsea isn't one of Studio Ghibli's best or most memorable, it is still a gem on its own. It's a rough work that still needed to be polished, and like Goro Miyazaki, he should continue to polish his work if he ever hopes to be a great filmmaker on his own without following in the footsteps of his father. In truth, I do love Tales From Earthsea (at least the first two thirds of the film). It really has that Middle Earth-esqued feeling, yet unique in a way. I just wished they spent a little bit more time exploring this strange world.