Advice For Buying Studio Ghibli Soundtrack CD's

Sean L. offered up this advice on buying the Joe Hisaishi soundtrack CDs for the Studio Ghibli movies, and I wanted to share it here above ground:

"I'm also a big fan of Joe Hisaishi, and his Ponyo score is one of my favorite works of music ever. It is truly stunning. I hope it gets submitted to the Academy Awards. I've been wondering like you why there isn't a domestic release of the soundtrack. Who knows? Maybe we should try to contact the folks at Disney and urge them to release it.

"Well anyway, I bought the soundtrack CD at a Japanese bookstore here in New York for about $40. That's quite expensive for a CD obviously, but it was worth it anyways. However, I still felt stupid afterwards because I found that you can buy it on Ebay for WAY cheaper. So that's my strong recommendation to you when looking for any Hisaishi soundtrack if you don't have a local Japanese store. Go to ebay.com, search for "Ponyo" under the "music" category, and I promise you'll find a price to your liking. Right now I'm seeing some there for as low as about $9 or $15."

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

BUY music???

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Yeah, I know. It's pretty old-fashioned, isn't it?

Have I mentioned that I have turntables and 1970s stereo receivers and a stack of vinyl records? Yeeeh. Now that's the music to buy.

Chris said...

Watch out for bootlegs, though. Studio Ghibli merchandise has been heavily bootlegged (I know from personal experience) and a lot of Ghibli items sold on eBay are bootlegs, including soundtracks. If it seem too good of a price on eBay I GUARANTEE you it's a bootleg.

I think YesAsia.com is the best place to buy Ghibli soundtracks at decent prices. The original Japanese Ponyo soundtrack is $32 and the Korean version is $17. And they have free International shipping on all items. Not bad.



By the way, I know Anonymous is making a joke, but that's one thing that really gets my goat: Illegally downloading things that are easily and affordably purchased.

If things you love are not supported (especially things that are not mainstream), they will cease to exist. It's as simple as that and someday (in the near future) there's going to be a startling wake up call for many so called fans.

(Of course, if it's absolutely, definitely unavailable in English - like Future Boy Conan - then I can support downloading . . . but only then.)

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@chris: Good advice. I do all my import shopping through YesAsia. I always love the free shipping, and they usually throw in little freebies. One time I got a Kiki tote bag...I wonder where I put that?

If you do buy from Ebay, you'll need to know exactly what you want and what it looks like. As always, caveat emptor.

Anonymous is just reflecting the views of the younger kids today. If you grew up with the internet, then downloading is treated as a given. Naturally, that's the sort of thing that sends panic through the music and movie business.

mrgonn said...

nothing from japan gets cheaper, because its on ebay, probably bootlegs. real japanese ghibli stuff IS expensive, although sometimes stuff gets released in hongkong & co.
e.g. sonmay is a bootleg producing company

Sean L. said...

@Chris & Daniel: Thanks for bringing that issue up. That's definitely a good point about the bootlegs. I'm no expert on identifying bootleg media, but needless to say it's wise to do your research before making an online purchase. Just as I would urge everyone to avoid illegal downloading, I would likewise advise against buying bootlegs, because that's pretty much the same crime (except with the latter, you pay). We need to support the arts and the artists we love with our dollars.

On that note, I just searched a bit on some of the Ponyo CD's from the ebay store called "Well Done and Rare DVD and Videos." They are Taiwanese bootlegs by Miya Records. Steer clear! The legit Japanese soundtrack was manufactured in Japan by Tokuma Japan Communications and produced by Studio Ghibli Records. The legit Korean version was manufactured by Pony Canyon. (I'm not sure about other country's versions, if there are more- any one want to chime in?) If the seller doesn't list those details about the CD, try contacting them and asking them about it before bidding/buying.

Chris said...

If only the "younger kids" you speak of, Daniel, could have seen that episode of Punky Brewster about the the ills of stealing that forever changed my life. Come to think of it Mr. Belvedere had a similar episode . . . and Growing Pains . . . and Blossom . . . and Small Wonder . . . and . . .



By the way, I've checked and there are official Ponyo soundtracks released in Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. These CDs will be cheaper than the official Japanese version. (But NOT $8.99!) However, please note that the packaging will be in the native language of the country and there could be some changes to the music like native language versions of the theme song. I ran into this with some of the early soundtracks I bought when I was living in Korea. :(

Anonymous said...

@chris
Taiwan releases are bootlegs too and only 'legal' in Taiwan alone (don't remember the label name atm). Korea (Pony Canyon) and Japan releases are genuine ones, don't know how about Hong Kong releases.

omo said...

If you see something that's a Ghibli soundtrack from eBay at $10-$15 range, it's almost guaranteed to be a bootleg. I'd say the advice in the post is down right horrible--it is worse than illegally download the music because at least that's free.

If you want it cheap and legit, the best bet is to get it used from a used CD store. Try a Book-Off.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I didn't realize these bootleg CDs were such an issue. Perhaps it's just easier for me to spot the bootleg DVDs instead. By all means, do whatever is necessary to obtain the legitimate CDs.

As always, a little research and skeptism is necessary. Caveat emptor.

Ellie said...

Wow. After reading all these comments, I decided to check my small collection of Ghibli soundtracks and realized that more than half of them are bootlegs, the majority of which I purchased on eBay for very low prices. I never even considered that I might be buying bootlegs - and moreover, they all look very professional, complete with liner notes.

So, some other illegitimate companies to look out for when buying Studio Ghibli soundtracks: SM Records Ltd. (serial code SMB), Smile Face International Records Co., Ltd. (serial code HO), Alion International Records Co., Ltd. (serial code ALCA), and K-O Trading Company, Ltd. (serial code KO). I researched them all, and they're all bootleg companies. Plus MIYA Records, which was already mentioned.

I feel pretty stupid to not have realized that all these non-Tokuma soundtracks were bootlegs, but at least now I know better and can start repopulating my collection with actual Ghibli soundtracks (whenever I have money to spare, that is - the real ones are definitely more expensive), and hopefully others won't make the same mistakes I did. Thanks for all the eye-opening comments, everybody!

Anonymous said...

you can listen to WHOLE Ponyo soundtrack here!!! An THANKFULLY they have the GOOD version of the ending song. Not Disney's fkd up 1! http://www.imeem.com/groups/YRpq7Ear/playlist/cmV1vnYJ/ost-joe-hisaishi-ponyo-on-the-cliff-by-the-sea-original/

Sean L. said...

Okay, okay, I'm sorry I ever suggested ebay. Sheesh. Just saying you don't have to spend 40 bucks like I did. When you're a college student with no job, every penny counts. *sighs* Seems like every time I try to give input on any kind of internet forum, I always just end up feeling stupid....

Anyhoo, it's a good idea to shop around before buying. And yeah, if there's a Book-Off near you, that is indeed a good place to find used Ghibli soundtracks at great prices. I go there all the time, it's an awesome store. However, I haven't seen the Ponyo soundtrack at the one here in NYC, probably because it's a newer release.

Chris said...

Sean, sorry I didn't mean to cause you any turmoil. I've just had some awful experiences with buying things I thought were legitimate off of eBay.

You bring up a good point, though: Being a Ghibli fan but residing in the United States can get very, very expensive. I feel extraordinarily lucky that I live in Tokyo where I can easily purchase reasonably priced Ghibli merchandise.

Last weekend I went to the large Book Off in Shibuya and noticed they had so many different Ghibli CDs for Y1500. They are all used, of course, but you'd be surprised at the pristine condition the Japanese keep their stuff in. Every used CD I've bought there looks brand new. They even have the obi strips!

If anyone here ever takes a trip to Tokyo, I HIGHLY recommend stopping at the Book Off stores in Shibuya, Akihabara, or anywhere else you may visit. You can really find some wonderful things and wonderful prices. (Not just CDs, you may get lucky with some other Ghibli books and manga.)

Eishagishi said...

Definitely second any recommendation for "Book Off." When I lived in SoCal I used to hit their Gardena location all the time. They are a great way to fill in a collection with used out-of-print items of all kinds.

And yes, it seems the Japanese tend to take very good care of their stuff - and quickly point out when used items are offered in less than pristine condition. I've never been either disappointed or surprised (in a bad way) when buying used items from Japanese sellers.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Thanks for all the terrific advice, everyone! It's very helpful for the rest of us.

J.R.D.S. said...

As a rule I try to avoid buying Japanese CDs as – compared to domestic releases – they're far above what I'd sensibly consider any CD's worth of music worth. However, I have given in a few times… But other than the three (Princess Mononoke, the Princess Mononoke Symphonic Suite and Spirited Away) which have domestic releases in the USA and Europe (including the UK) from Milan Records, the best thing to do about Studio Ghibli and other Joe Hisaishi CDs (and Japanese music in general, come to think of it) is to buy the licensed Korean releases by Pony Canyon. These are cheapest from YesAsia.com when they stock them but they only have a few; for the others mrKwang.com seems to be best (click here for all the Japanese soundtracks they stock); AnNyoung.com (which seems to be off-line, at least for the moment) is another shop I've bought them from but one which I've found to be slightly more expensive, if still a saving on the Japanese releases.

Saying that, there have also been several non-Ghibli Hisaishi releases in France (and a different set of them than those that made it to South Korea): I tend to buy my French imports from Amazon.fr or Fnac.com but many of these are also available, in the UK at least, from the iTunes Store. The Ponyo OST is also on there currently, seemingly from a German release: a country I'm not as familiar with importing from but one should be able to get it from Amazon.de at least (see here for the label's other animation soundtracks, which also includes the Gedo Senki OST).

I also try to avoid buying anything that's despatched from Hong Kong or Taiwan other than from YesAsia, as though there may well be real releases there, so much of it – especially what they try to sell overseas – is bootlegged that the only foolproof option is just to avoid them completely. One needs to be extra-careful when buying from eBay as some of the bootleggers have realised this and attempted to work around it: for example, I once bought a Game Boy game which the eBay description told to be despatched from the UK but, upon receiving the order notification and reading previous buyer's comments, I found to a bootleg of the North American version despatched from Hong Kong.

Chris said...

On the subject of recommendations, I'd like to highly, highly, highly recommend buying any image albums of the Ghibli soundtracks you might like.

During the storyboarding phase, Joe Hisaishi will begin to compose the music for the film and play with ideas and melodies which will later be solidified for the final film score.

Not only do you get a sense of Joe Hisaishi's music writing and development process, you also get some fantastic music that never made it to the final film score, and you also get to hear very interesting variations of what would later become familiar tunes.

I particularly recommend both the Mononoke Hime and the Sen to Chihiro image albums. Those are fantastic.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@chris: Ah, so that's what "image album" CDs are! That makes perfect sense. These are the musical equivalent to the image boards that predate the e-konte and the storyboards. I read something about this from Miyazaki's Starting Point.

And, naturally, that idea appeals to my artist's sense of keeping and documenting everything.

@jrds: Thanks for the info and the links. I'm sure they'll be put to good use. This has really turned into an essential post for soundtrack CDs. This sort of back-and-forth is what the Ghibli Blog was born for.

Sean L. said...

Well, I am glad to see that at least my "horrible advice" fueled an important and thorough discussion, LOL. ;-) Great stuff, everyone!

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Yeah, that's the funny thing. It's always the toss-away commente that get the most attention. But this brought up a big topic, and I think you just got the ball rolling.

But the truth is that you can never predict which of your artistic creations will get the attention.

And I see that this post has passed 20 comments! I wish I could put a little star on this one, heh heh heh. We seem to be passing the 10-comment mark pretty regularly nowadays.

Eishagishi said...

Regarding Hisaishi's image albums, yeah they're all great. That and you sometimes find out where some music comes from later down the road, such as...

The music for the Japanese trailer for Spirited Away, which is from the reworked Laputa score, at that time not yet released (OK, so it's not an image track ^_^).

Also, check out Miyazaki's poems to Joe Hisaishi that were printed in both the Japanese and English introductions to "The Art of Princess Mononoke." Miyazaki used those poems to convey the feel and tone he wanted for the score.

One more recommendation - Hisaishi's "Works" discs, which are compilations of his scores for other films, like Takeshi Kitano's projects. Especially "Works I", which features the 20-minute "Symphonic Poem Nausicaa" suite, and the complete "Madness" (used for the escape sequence in Porco Rosso), played by the London Symphony Orchestra. I think it is simply the best rendition of these melodies available on disc. The CD (for those of you that pay for your music) is Polydor POCH-1652.

J.R.D.S. said...

The first two Works albums are among those released by the French division of Milan Records that I mentioned; Joe Hisaishi Meets Kitano Films is another and one that I much enjoy for its variety, though some of the soundtracks it features themes from have also been released in their own right. In particular, it's interesting to hear the more electronic originals before the acoustic rearrangements on the Works and Piano Stories albums. The Kids Return theme is one that fascinates me in either form.

I should also add that the Colosseum edition of the Ponyo soundtrack is now also being distributed in France and the United Kingdom in conjunction with the cinema releases there; see here for pre-ordering it from the latter.

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