Review of Princess Arete (2001)

Moving picture, 105 minutes

A very young princess is locked up in a tower. Various questing knights return to the city one day with magical artifacts from places like Africa. The nation benefits economically from these treasures and the princess’s hand has been promised to whomsoever brings the most impressive one. However, the princess is put off by the knights’ lack of empathy and their chivalrous dishonesty. A wizard, possibly the last one still alive, gets the princess instead, though he has to brainwash the child first.

Quiet fantasy in a medieval setting, with a lot of deconstruction. The biggest problem is the central slump, but there are some fairly serious plot holes and a few minor odd details (why a tourney helm?) too. Good visuals, music and scenes of realism (like beating out coins and dyeing cloth). Bad hypertechnology, working like equal parts modern high-tech, da Vinci, Castle in the Sky (1986) and straight magic.

References here: Tales from Earthsea (2006).

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction