Can somebody in the know please explain this to me? These are the main menu screens from Disney's Region-1 DVDs for Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo Sumaseba) and My Neighbors the Yamadas. Where are the main titles? There is no title on the main screen.
I've never seen anything like this; even the crummiest low-budget DVD release still remembers to put the title on the main menu screen. This is about as basic an issue as you can get.
The really strange thing is that My Neighbor Totoro does have a main title. It's the same font as on the cover, and it's animated, too. So, clearly, this was not a goof-up or some bizarre creative decision. Somebody in charge deliberately chose to scrub the movie titles from the main menus for these movies.
I'm not bringing this up to grind an axe. This is just something that has bugged me for years, and I've never been given a reason for why this happened. The more cynical-minded could just chalk this up as one more instance of Disney burying the Ghibli library in the back yard, only doing the bare minimum as required by the distribution contract. I know this irritated me to no end, and many Ghibli Freaks have felt the same way, no doubt.
The second and third wave of DVDs were a definite improvement over Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, and Kiki. The more unified design was a welcome change, even if the color scheme (dark heavy red at the top) is a bit off. So there clearly was more effort put into promoting the Ghibli catalog. But no titles? What is this all about? Such a gesture smacks of disrespect. Was that deliberate or not? I honestly don't know, and I would prefer to think it all boils down to a creative decision (let's show an animated clip from the movie).
The relationship between Studio Ghibli and Disney has been rocky since the start, and most of it points back to the Mononoke fiasco in the States. There has been a degree of distrust on both sides, but a warming of relations has commenced over the past year, with Ghibli's new President Koji Hoshino taking the helm. He has made improving relations with Disney, and building Ghibli's brand in the USA, a priority.
That good will has paid off lately, as we saw with Ponyo, and I hope it continues with the new DVD reissues later this year. That means no more stupid gaffes with the main menu screens. As always, we'll cross our fingers and hope for the best.
P.S. One thing that's always puzzled me is why Disney never established Studio Ghibli as a seperate product line. I understand the need to promote the corporation at all costs, and these conglomerate treat rival studios the way the church treats rival religions. But I don't believe Ghibli, with its slight output of foreign movies, could eclipse the Disney empire in the public's mind. It's not as though children exposed to My Neighbor Totoro will refuse to ever watch Pinocchio or Ducktales again.
Wouldn't it be smarter to establish a seperate product line - "The Studio Ghibli Collection"? This is much smarter from a branding and market-building angle, and it does provide a degree of independence from the Disney brand - a crucial distinction if we are ever to see Omohide Poro Poro and Umi ga Kikoeru released on our shores. Is there a reasonable reason why this option was never pursued? Or does this just come down to promoting Buddhism during Lenten Mass?