There is something very odd about Disney's choice to cast Willem Dafoe as the voice of the villainous female Lord Cob in Ghibli's "Tales From Earthsea." Dafoe is great, creating a very disturbing villain with a very incongruous voice. Lord Cob - as you question the "why" of the character's sexuality - is a truly creepy villain.
But then you watch the film in Japanese and find she really is a woman. You also discover it makes the parts of the movie fit together just a little better when it is obvious. I can't get over the controversy about this film, but in its original language, it is even more a "real" Ghibli film than even I thought a few days ago. Dafoe is seriously unnerving, and I really wonder why Disney made the decision to go this way. It makes Lord Cob a more intense villain, but does not make the overall film better. Interesting choice to have made.
I have also wandered the internet looking for reasons people don't like this film, and I honestly can say I don't understand any of them. I had previously written that there was a confusing moment in the film, and many have written that much of it is confusing. On second watch, I thought it was seamless and wasn't sure where my confusion had come from. I can only guess that many viewers want everything laid out in front of them, but I think you have to be able to linger in a little doubt or non-clarity to really appreciate any film. By the end, you should be able to think about it. If it's still totally unclear, perhaps you have watched a film that is not so good.
But I'll say it again - "Tales From Earthsea" is a fine addition to Studio Ghibli's impressive roster. Not as good as "Totoro," but nothing is. I look forward to Goro's next one.