Disney's bonus material for the new Studio Ghibli DVDs revolve around the moniker, "The World of Ghibli." This consists of three segments: complete storyboards (e-konte), "Behind the Studio," and "Enter the Lands." Let's take a look at what's on the second Laputa: Castle in the Sky disc.
"Behind the Studio" is a remarkable surprise. It's a collection of interviews with Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, and Joe Hisaishi. The interviews are cut into five short segments - The World of Laputa; Creating Castle in the Sky; Character Sketches; Producer's Perspective: Meeting Miyazaki; and Scoring Miyazaki.
These interviews were filmed in 2009 in Japan, and I'm curious to know how many were filmed. Everything depends on when the next wave of reissued DVDs and Blu-Ray discs arrive.
Japanese movie trailers are included once again, and this is a welcome sight. I always enjoy seeing the previews, especially Castle in the Sky, Studio Ghibli's inaugural movie. "Following the famed Nausicaa, Director Hayao Miyazaki's latest creation," goes the tagline. The name of the studio is never mentioned; in 1986, there are no expectations or plans beyond this one film, that Ghibli would become famous throughout the world (it's easy to forget sometimes that these are purely Japanese movies, with no expectation of being seen elsewhere).
Disney's old "Behind the Microphone" feature appears once again. James Van Der Beek is just as embarassing as ever, Cloris Leachman and Mark Hamill are still chewing the scenery. Cartoon dubs really can be cheesy sometimes. But Disney has improved vastly since John Lasseter took over the Ghibli dubs, and we're all the more grateful for it. I really don't like this dub...but, eh, shrug. To each their own.
"Enter the Lands" is a rather interesting feature. It's an interactive menu, presented as a large map containing (most) of the Studio Ghibli movies. All of the films are present, except, of course, for Grave of the Fireflies, Omohide Poro, Umi ga Kikoeru, and Gedo Senki. We're never going to see those films in America, sadly. At least Grave of the Fireflies is available on DVD by another label.
One pleasant surprise - and I really never believed Disney would touch this movie again - is Mononoke. San is right there on the upper right corner of the screen. This does strongly suggest that Disney will reissue Mononoke on DVD/BD. Frankly, I'll believe it when I see it.
I don't understand why Disney simply doesn't release the Ghibli catalog on its own label, without the Disney moniker. If there were at least one degree of separation, perhaps that would calm the nerves of the executives who have nightmares about the Dumb Proles storming their walls because of cartoons with severed limbs and bath houses and menstruation. Just sayin'.
Enter the Lands is more of an interactive toy for the kiddies; the rest of you will be bored quickly and move on. You click on the menu items, watch brief clips, and learn about the movie characters. The narrator is talking in a DisneySpeak dialect, sounding a bit like new parents. Ooogly Googly, whoooze the happy babyyyy? Awwww, smoochie smoochie smoochie! Yeah, don't you laugh. You'll have kids one day and it'll happen to you. It's like catching the Chicken Pox; everybody has to suffer through it once.
Finally, I'd like to pay my compliments on the wonderful new menus. The style is very restrained, easy on the eyes, and easy to navigate. Thank goodness the days of heavily animated menu screens are behind us. I just want to get to the movie, please. Disney has done an outstanding job with the presentation. You can see the care and dedication in their work, and it's really the first time I can say that honestly. In previous years, the Ghibli catalog was treated with something bordering on contempt, like a Thanksgiving dinner with relatives you avoid the rest of the year.
If you're wondering if you should buy Castle in the Sky, or Totoro, or Kiki, even though you have the older releases, I'm giving you my endorsement. These are excellent reissues and will make a fine addition to your movie library. Excellent job, Disney! You get a cookie.