Ghibli Freak Joshua sent me these two screenshots from Toei Doga's landmark classic Hakujaden, in an attempt to solve a riddle that is puzzling us: what is the correct aspect ratio for this film? The Japanese DVD is presented in 4:3, while the newer French DVD is presented in 16:9. Which is correct?
I have admit that I just don't know. I've gone back and forth on this. At this point, you could convince me either way, but without hard evidence or any original sources to read, it's only guessing. I've sent a message to Ben Ettinger, and hopefully he will be able to answer. There really isn't anybody else on this hemisphere who probably could, to be honest.
This brings us back to Joshua's direct comparison between the two DVD versions. The French version is set in widescreen, but this is not a stretched picture frame. Instead, it appears to be cropped from the top and bottom, with some extra image on the sides (which lie just outside the 4:3 frame).
Take a look at these and see what you think. I must admit my ignorance on the matter. My best guess is that Hakujaden really was created in 4:3 ratio, but it does also look nice when stretched out to 1.66:1 on the media players. If anyone could find some animation cels or e-konte books, that would solve the riddle once and for all.. Good luck on that.