Did Gedo Senki Make a Good Start?
Gedo Senki was expected to be one of the best movies this summer, especially since it is the debut film of Hayao Miyazaki's eldest son, Goro. Everyone expected Gedo to make a good start. The reaction from the audience, however, was less than remarkable, and severe criticisms have been being posted on online forums.
Gedo Senki began playing on July 29th. Its original story was praised as "one of the three great fantasies in the world," along with "Lord of the Ring" and "The Chronicles of Narnia." Gedo premiered in 435 theaters around the country, almost the same number of theaters during the premier of "Howl's Moving Castle" because "Ghibli never makes failure" is common sense to people in Japan. Fans looked forward to the premiere of Gedo, and the media, such as Sports Houchi (a Newspaper), reported, "Gedo made all 435 theaters fill up with fans in the first day."
Hayao Miyazaki was a big fan of Gedo's original story, and has been proposing to the original author to turn it into an anime for the past 20 years, but the author refused. Some people say Miyazaki created Nausicaa in place of Gedo. Four years ago, the author of Gedo agreed to Miyazaki’s proposal, which could be attributed to Miyazaki's winning of the Academy Award.
The author of Gedo asked Hayao to head the project; however, Hayao’s son, Goro, was nominated as the director, because Hayao was then dedicated to making Howl's Moving Castle. Toshio Suzuki, one of Ghibli’s producer, said in an interview: "Hayao told us that Goro will never be appointed the main position of Gedo Senki’s creation. Hayao doesn't approve of nominating Goro."
After that, Suzuki managed to persuade Hayao. A rumor went around on the web that this incident created some conflict between Hayao and Goro. A French animation, "The king and The Bird" (Le Roi et l'Oiseau), premiered around the same time with support from Ghibli. Some fans assumed this could be a counter against Gedo Senki. In the end, fans compared Goro to Hayao, and Goro was judged severely as the successor of Ghibli. For example, posts in forum said:
It could be that Gedo was burdened with over-expectation, since it was a Ghibli film. If Gedo was a cheap film made by a nameless studio, we would have enjoyed it; however, negative posts in forums, such as "Gedo is too gloomy, and some scenes are too shocking, I can't recommend Gedo to the kids" are very common. Toho (the distributor) expected more than ten billion yen as the promotional income, but I doubt it.
Monday, July 31st, at eleven and a half minute, J-CAST News reporter entered a theater in Shinjuku. About 30% of seats are occupied. When the "END" appeared on the screen, an audience in front of the reporter stretched her arms and back. Many audiences sat up and went out without watching the ending credits.
Translated by T. Ohara