My Neighbor Totoro DVDs


Here's a quick look at the previous DVDs for My Neighbor Totoro.  The one on the left is the old Fox pan-and-scan, and the one on the right is the 2006 Disney release.  Both are now out of print, and we're awaiting the reissue of the movie in time for Christmas.

To be honest, I'm not sure why Disney is shutting down and reissuing their Totoro DVD.  There was certainly nothing wrong with it; the subtitles were accurate (the Japanese R2 used "dub-titles"), the American dub was excellent, the packaging was very nice, and the picture was superb.  They even remembered to put the title of the movie on the main menu - a very bizarre omission on their other American Ghibli DVDs.

I would be thrilled if the new Totoro DVD features the Japanese movie poster for its cover, the way Ghibli's DVDs are now released in Japan.  I don't know what new changes would be needed for this "special edition" that aren't already available.  Let's hope this isn't just a cynical cash-in on Disney's part.  A John Lasseter commentary track would be nice.  Heck, a Daniel Thomas commentary track would be even better.

I know there are a lot of people who still prefer the old dub from the Fox release, so there's a certain collector's value to be had with that older version.  But I just couldn't stand the cover design, with its airbrushed colors and fake, plastic smiles.  This old cover (on the VHS) kept me away from Totoro for many years; it was only after Roger Ebert wrote about the film for his Great Movies series that I changed my mind and decided to watch for myself.  Isn't that crazy?

The matter of pan-and-scan is pretty obvious, and there's no need to rehash that old hangup.  That's a crank habit that deserved to be buried, and I sincerely hope we never have to deal with the "full screen" fiasco again.

8 comments:

asuka said...

i like the way the fox cover made the film look like some spin-off from "sonic the hedgehog" .

the poster on the cover would be nice, but as you say the disney cover as it is is very pretty choice too. the only thing that might be regarded as an improvement would be removing the red banner at the top, which contains some hype-text i can't recall right now (i'm too lazy to go upstairs and look at our copy!)
"from the directorial loins of master film-maker hayao miyazaki ("spirited away") comes..."

greentea said...

Yeah, that previous cover was off-putting to me too. I think the 'Totoro' part of the title may be the most embarassing thing about it, it looks too 'Loony Tunes'.
I'm hoping that rumor is true about 'Ponyo', 'Totoro' and 'Castle in the Sky' being released together. I don't have any of those DVDs.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I like the cover on the Disney DVD much more. It comes from the Studio Ghibli Calendar, and it's true to the spirit of the film. I can't say that about the Fox cover, which looks like just another cheap kiddie cartoon. Forbid the thought!

It's a great thing that we have had this sort of progress, and for that, I'm very grateful.

Philip said...

I like your idea; have you ever considered recording your own commentaries? Post them as MP3 and we could play them while watching the movies, like Rifftrax does. Just an idea.

Chris Sobieniak said...

The 90's was known for covers like that Fox cover with the plastic, airbrushed look. I still bothered renting it anyway. The audio is fine on it's own if it was included with the new DVD but I doubt it will happen aside from it being used on the previous Japanese R2 release.

Chris Sobieniak said...

I also should mention the Fox release (aside from the pan & scanning) was DVNR-ed ("digital video noise reduction"). This process attempts to clean any abrasions to the picture by removing spects of dust or other imperatives to film through examination of the frames themselves. This process has been considered a killer by those in the animation community for often leading to outlines of the characters being obliterated in movement such as if the scene was moving or the character was (especially fast scenes). Attempts in recent years have been made to prevent such problems but some still persist.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@philip: Recording your own DVD commentary tracks was an idea Roger Ebert came up with a number of years ago. I thought it would have caught on, but it never did. I did write a post about the fellow who recorded his own commentary for Castle of Cagliostro, so you can search for that.

Maybe one of these years, I could find someone to produce a podcast with me. That would be fun.

@chris sobieniak: All animation DVD and VHS covers have that stupid airbrushed look. And everyone has that hideously repressive Stepford Family smile on them. It's just creepy. I'm still miffed at Disney's cover on Castle in the Sky....yuck!

Chris Sobieniak said...

@philip: Recording your own DVD commentary tracks was an idea Roger Ebert came up with a number of years ago. I thought it would have caught on, but it never did. I did write a post about the fellow who recorded his own commentary for Castle of Cagliostro, so you can search for that.

That guy is Chris Meadows, and I thought he did a very thorough commentary on the film including weaponry and other details I didn't even think about!

Maybe one of these years, I could find someone to produce a podcast with me. That would be fun.

Would be nice too!

@chris sobieniak: All animation DVD and VHS covers have that stupid airbrushed look. And everyone has that hideously repressive Stepford Family smile on them. It's just creepy. I'm still miffed at Disney's cover on Castle in the Sky....yuck!
Bad indeed. I wish it was more like the one poster you posted with them in the air above Pazu's village, I love that shot!

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