Grave of the Fireflies is out-of-print in North America. If that isn't a shocking indictment of the state of the anime business on our shores, then nothing is.

Unfortunately, since Disney now holds the distribution rights to the Ghibli films, and future DVD or Blu-Ray release would have to go through them. In a perfect world, Disney would give Fireflies and Omohide Poro Poro to The Criterion Collection. But that's about as likely as....(fill in the blank).

Shocking, really. This is just about the greatest animation movie ever made, and there's next to no chance of it ever being seen in the US again.


asuka said...

sad but not very surprising, unfortunately.

when i worked in a bookshop, i was continually being amazed by what publishers and the public had allowed to go out of print.

here's a question: if grave of the fireflies is now out of print in the usa and isn't coming back, which other currently available ghibli title will be next?

i'm guessing either pom poko or porco rosso. other guesses?

ScottGreen said...

Definitely lamentable.

What's the Princess Bride line about fully dead and partially dead? I could be wrong, but I believe CPM is in a state of torpor rather than full death. In theory, if they still hold the rights to Grave of the Fireflies, they could publish a release.

When Anime Masterpieces put together a Grave of the Fireflies program, they did work with CPM. However, I think Anime Masterpieces were under the mistaken impression that the DVD of Grave of the Fireflies was still widely available.

Regrettably, I think we have to wait for someone's social responsibility to win out to get another release of this.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I wouldn't worry about any of the Ghibl films under the Disney banner to disappear, although you might have to order those DVD's through Amazon. Even the oldest American disc, Princess Mononoke, is still currently available - although that DVD clearly needs a proper reissue and restoration.

This is really a problem with the domestic anime industry. There are a lot of classics that are not available, and it's going to become more difficult for less "mainstream" fare. Night on the Galactic Railroad, one of the greatest anime movies ever, remains out of print. Even Akira has wandered in limbo for a period of time.

Central Park Media got the DVD rights to Grave of the Fireflies years before the Ghibli/Disney deal, so it's almost certainly a case of the license having expired. Remember that the movie was finally released in Japan under the Ghibli ga Ippai label, which Disney (Buena Vista) distributes. So they're the ones who hold the rights to Fireflies now.

That is doubly unfortunate, because Central Park's Fireflies DVD was a model example for anime releases. In addition to documentary footage of Isao Takahata from the 1980s, they interviewed Roger Ebert, who was the first major film critic in the US to champion Studio Ghibli, and the only one to champion Grave of the Fireflies. There was also a detailed discussion with a pair of scholars on the firebombing campaigns during WWII, from both the Japanese and American perspectives.

Central Park also carefully restored the picture and sound for the DVD, and it was a leap above the Japanese Fireflies DVD. Add in some excellent animated menus and bonus material for your PC, and you had one of the best anime DVDs anywhere.

Do what you can to score this DVD - and get the 2-disc set, not the cheaper 1-disc version. You'll be glad you did.

asuka said...

thanks for the correction - i actually didn't know that grave was central park media (mine is a region 2 disc).
your point about the state of anime publishing in the america is totally valid. CPM has a great catalogue ("patlabor" OP now for heavens sake!). add to that the disappearance of pioneer from the market, and...
i foretell a future of fan-subs, pricey japanese imports and incomprehensible HK bootlegs.
wait a sec, is that the future my crystal ball is seeing or the past?

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

That is precisely why digital distribution is the future for anime.

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