2008-10-03

Lupin III - Cagliostro, Series 1 on Blu-Ray

In Japan, that is. Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro will be released on Blu-Ray on December 3, and Series 1 and Series 2 will be released on December 12. There's no word on whether English subtitles will be included, but I sure hope so. There's no reason why not in this day and age.

It also goes without saying that a North American release would be absolutely fantastic. Nobody here ever secured the rights to Lupin Series 1; weirdly enough, it's the best and most famous of the whole bunch. You'd think somebody would jump at the chance to release one of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata's signature works.

Huh? Are You Kidding Me?

The Mayfair Theater in Ottowa last week showed Princess Mononoke on a double bill with...Heavy Metal? Huh? What genius paired those two together? Most likely the theater wanted to pair a Japanese animation film with an American one, and, hey, this one's got blood and violence in it! Good enough!

Seriously, Mononoke is an entirely different movie, a real movie. Heavy Metal was infamous in my teenage years only because it wasn't available anywhere. But it wasn't because it was some scandalous "banned" movie. It just sucked eggs.

No Ponyo Bootlegs, Please

Alright, time to get back to writing on the Ghibli blog as well as Videogames of the Damned. Somebody sent me an email recently, asking where to find subtitled bootleg copies of Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea. I don't remember if I've talked about this subject, so perhaps now is a good time to address it.

Here on Conversations on Ghibli, I've pointed many of you to where you could find various versions of the Miyazaki-Takahata canon, particularly their works that have never been released here in the West. It's a slippery slope where copywright law is concerned, but I've tried to follow some code of ethics. First and foremost, my greatest concern is for the original artists. I write this blog to promote the animated works of great, wonderfully talented artists. Some of them have achieved a degree of fame - Miyazaki's last few movies, for instance - but to a great extent the canon remains undiscovered on our shores.

There are various reasons for this, cultural reasons, business reasons. And we've discussed them in great detail. What results is a great body of work in film and television that deserves to be discovered by Westerners. Thankfully, most of these films are available overseas on DVD. If that's the case, it's only a matter of purchasing an import, when English subtitles exist. Where no English subtitles exist, there are the "fan subs," subtitle projects created by anime fans as a labor of love.

What I do not condone or advocate is piracy. I have no desire to steal money from the pockets of Ghibli or their peers. If you're a working artist, then you'll understand the feeling. You need to be properly compensated for your work. Otherwise, well, it's a lot tougher to be a successful artist without the money. Ya gotta pay the rent, kids.

So what does this have to do with Ponyo? Simple, really. The film is currently in theatres in Japan, and is headed around the globe. It will be seen here in the US in 2009, and that's really the way you want to see Miyazaki's latest work of art. You wouldn't be happy crouched over a small computer screen. You need to watch the film the way it was intended.

I haven't bothered to search the internet for any subtitled pirate copy of Ponyo. I thought I would be tempted months ago, but now I'm perfectly willing to wait. It is a special moment to watch a movie for the first time. You won't get that experience back, no matter how many times you see it again. That thrill of discovery is what I love about the movies, especially in a theatre. That's the way movies were meant to be seen.

So I hope you'll spare me any questions about where to download Ponyo, or where to find subtitles. I seriously doubt you've seen everything that has been fansubbed or released on DVD. Get caught up on those first. Then watch some Criterion Collection DVD's. Then read a couple books. Ponyo will be there when the time comes. Be patient.