Photos - Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (Blu-Ray)

Here are some hi-resolution screenshots of the newly released Nausicaa Blu-Ray.  It's looking quite excellent.  I can't wait to see how this plays on a giant television.  I lost my Japanese DVD some months ago on one of my flights to Bogota, so I've been stuck without ever since.

I did check the YesAsia page for the extras, and, yes, Hideaki Anno of Evangelion fame does appear on the commentary track.  He also appears in a video appearance with Toshio Suzuki from 2009, which is a new extra for the Blu-Ray.  Anno worked as a key animator on Nausicaa, and famously animated the climactic scene at the end where the God Warrior emerges to repel an Ohmu stampede.

Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind - Now on Blu-Ray

The Nausicaa Blu-Ray is now on the streets!  I can't wait to get my hands on this one.  It's going to be expensive to import, yes, but check out all the cool extras you get, including the very stylish package.  I really like this design, and I'm hoping Studio Ghibli will continue this for future releases.  English subtitles for the movie are included, but not for any of the extras.  The DVD commentary track, the only one recorded for a Studio Ghibli film, should also be included.

According to one news report, Toshio Suzuki was unsatisfied with a cover design offered by Disney, so he turned to a friend who was a graphic designer, which resulted in this killer design.  I love it - it's just like something Criterion Collection would do.  Another interesting demand was one made by Hayao Miyazaki: no digital editing would be allowed.  This means Nausicaa would look like the 35mm film; sharper and cleaner than ever before, but untouched.  Compare this to Disney's approach to digitally restoring their classics, which aim to recreate the look of the original animation cels, instead of the film.

As you can see, the Nausicaa Blu-Ray includes a small book, packed with photos from the movie, sketches from the production, and long essays about Hayao Miyazaki.  There's even a photo of him from his much younger days.  It's striking how much different he looked back then.  We're very lucky to still have him alive and working today.

YesAsia has the best price on Nausicaa - only $78.25, with free international shipping.  Yeehh booy!

I honestly have no idea when Nausicaa will be released here in the States.  I'd hope it would be sometime before Christmas, but that's just wishful thinking.  Perhaps Disney will reissue more Ghibli films on DVD, as they had done earlier this year.  We'll see what happens; until then, let's import this Blu-Ray and get all the cool extras while we still can.  This is one of the best movie releases of the year.

Karigurashi no Arrietty (The Borrowers) - The Full Trailer

Here is the complete, two-minute trailer for Karigurashi no Arrietty.  The movie is about to be unleashed upon Japan, and I'm very hopeful that it is successful.  This looks wonderful.  It also looks confident, assured - at least the shots from the trailer suggest as much.

I think Yonebayashi may emerge as a stronger director than either Goro Miyazaki or Hiroyuki Morita.  I can't see if a unique style or vision has yet emerged, or if this will be a safe, by-the-numbers Studio Ghibli affair.  But I can see a skill in these shots, the use of sweeping panoramas and compositions.  That one shot of Arrietty riding up an elevator was especially impressive to me.  If nothing else, this demonstrates a control and confidence that that Morita and the younger Miyazaki, sadly, lacked.

Of course, a movie trailer's job is to get people to go see the movie, and clever editing can repair almost anything.  But I came away feeling very hopeful for Arrietty.  I felt that Father Miyazaki was right.  They had found their homegrown director at last.

As always, I'd expect to see this movie at the Venice Film Festival in September, with rollouts to the West sometime next year.  This does present a paradox, however.  The Borrowers is a popular work of English literature, but the Ghibli movie essentially transports it to modern Japan.  How much of a challenge would that prove for translators?  And how will the book's fans respond?  And just what is Ghibli's obsession with British fantasy literature, anyway?

Studio Ghibli and Arrietty in Brutus Magazine

 Japan's Brutus Magazine features Arrietty on their latest cover, drawn by young director Hiromasa Yanebayashi.  He should feel very proud as his movie is about to be unleashed on theatres in Japan.  If the movie is a big hit, then Ghibli may have its next star director.

You can sample some pages from the magazine on their website here.  I really like the interactive pages.

Brutus also includes interviews with Hayao Miyazaki, who drew the image boards early on in the project (while giving the director and staff the necessary space to create), and an especially surprising appearance by Yasuo Otsuka.  Yeah, I'm just the sort who would buy the magazine just to see Otsuka, instead of Miyazaki.  You should, too.  He's looking good, but he's getting very old, and we won't have him for much longer.

Anyway, I hope somebody manages to get a copy of Brutus and tells us what everybody has to say.


Poster - Tales From Earthsea; Very Limited US Theatrical Run

The new US movie poster for Tales From Earthsea is now available, and is revealed to be identical to the Japanese version, only with English-language text.  This is an interesting change of pace from Disney, which usually offers a different poster design for the Ghibli films in America.  The original Gedo Senki posters were quite excellent, and probably my favorite thing about that movie.

The tagline suggests a difficulty on Disney's part to come up with a proper pitch for Earthsea.  Despite this impressive poster, dragons are virtually unseen in the movie.  This climactic moment is really only one moment at the end, and from a dramatic point of view, it lacks punch.  I'm still not completely sure what Goro Miyazaki was aiming for, apart from his obsessions over his famous father.  Perhaps he was only a casual reader of Ursula LeGuin's novels.

In related news, Disney has announced that Tales From Earthsea will be given a very limited release.  It will open on August 13 in only five US cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Honolulu.  There is no word on whether the movie will be expanded to more cities after its opening week; I would be surprised if Minneapolis-St. Paul gets snubbed.

Much of this depends on Disney's strategy, how cautious they will be towards Earthsea, and how willing they will be to promote the film.  It's very likely that this movie is being given a token release for contractual reasons, as well as the inevitable Oscar nominations.  It's also a given that this movie won't pull in $300 million dollars like the latest Toy Story.  Hollywood is a business, after all.

I'd really like to learn more from Disney regarding their plans for Tales From Earthsea.  If anyone from Disney or Pixar reads this blog, by all means, please contact me.  I'd love to hear from you.


Bender in the Sky

I saw this illustration, and I couldn't resist posting it on the blog.  This is as good a time as any to cheer for Futurama, which is finally back on TV.  Yay!

I discovered this "Bender in the Sky" drawing on Reddit...are those guys still angry at me?  They really were miffed when I posted a bunch of Ghibli Blog links to their anime section; it was as though I crashed their party, and started playing nothing but Cole Porter records.  Oh, well, ya win some, ya lose some.


Hayao Miyazaki Hates the iPad

Hayao Miyazaki is no fan of modern technology.  And he hates the iPad.

In the July issue of Studio Ghibli's monthly magazine, Nippu ("The Burning Wind"), Miyazaki lets loose in one of his trademark curmudgeony rants against modern technology, and especially Apple's iPad.  "For me, there is no feeling of admiration or excitement whatsoever.  It's disgusting. On trains, the number of those people doing that strange masturbation-like gesture is multiplying."

Miyazaki, of course, is no lover of modern technology, and this deep ambivalence is a common theme in his directoral work dating back to Future Boy Conan.  He almost takes joy in raging against the machine, creating with pencil and paper.  New recruits to Studio Ghibli are famously told to sacrifice their laptops, their cell phones - removed from the grid completely, as they hone their artistic craft.

Here is the link to the Japanese blog which broke the story.  If anyone could help with translating the text (Google Translator is out of its league), I'd be able to post Miyazaki's remarks here.  As always, thanks for all the help.

(Note: I bleached out a word from Miyazaki's comments regarding the iPad. While I'm certainly no fan of censorship, I'd like to keep Ghibli Blog a family-friendly website.  If you want, you can highlight the text...and, then, ya know....faint from the shock, or something.)

Anne of Green Gables Public Preview; DVD Coming

Studio Ghibli held their "Anniversary Preview" for the upcoming theatrical release of Anne of Green Gables at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo.  Director Isao Takahata was on hand, and if the Google translator-bots are correct, he was joined by Eiko Yamada, the actress who voiced Anne Shirley in the 1979 television production.

It was also revealed that this theatrical rendition of Anne - an editing of World Masterpiece Theater's first six episodes - will be released on DVD.  Takahata's speech at the embassy event may also be included as an extra, which should arrive on the Ghibli Museum Library label.

I'm personally intrigued by the idea of a DVD release, and, obviously, I'm wishing and hoping for Ghibli to release the entire 1979 TV series.  I don't know how likely that is, since Nippon Animation is still alive and kicking; they even revived World Masterpiece Theater in recent years, ushering in the series with an Anne of Green Gables spin-off.  I'm sure they won't give up such a lucrative licence so easily.

That said, it's always wonderful to see Takahata appear in public, and to see his name on the big screen once again.  It's also a treat to see Eiko Yamada, who played such a wonderful Anne, capturing that manic energy and emotional vitality so perfectly.  She's my favorite Anne Shirley, in fact.


Photos - Karigurashi no Arrietty (The Borrower Arrietty)

Studio Ghibli has recently released the first screenshots from Arrietty.  Everything looks excellent, as always.  Hopefully, we'll be able to see more very soon, as the theatrical release nears.  Don't you wish you had a passport and some airline tickets?  Sure, you do.

At the studio's official screening, Hayao Miyazaki came away very impressed.  His long-sought dream of a homegrown Ghibli director may have finally been achieved.  I suspect we will be seeing more of Yonebayahi-san in the future.

Tales From Earthsea - The US Trailer

Here is the US trailer for Tales From Earthsea.  The narration is somewhat sparse, but the footage is quite excellent.  I actually think this works quite well, much closer to the Japanese style than the typically loud American approach.

I'm looking forward to seeing Earthsea on the big screen, and I'm especially curious to know what first-time viewers have to say.  I was never a fan of Goro Miyazaki's first directorial film, and I've only watched it once, but perhaps my attitude has softened over time.  Either that, or I'll be crankier than ever.  I still can't believe Goro stole so much from his father's legacy.

But, hey, it's Ghibli in theatres.  This is an event, and I want Earthsea to be successful.  More importantly, I want to see more movies, like Arriety, brought to these shores.  Hollywood only understands support in terms of dollars, so we need to turn out and vote with our wallets.

Enjoy the trailer!

Ni no Kuni is Coming to Playstation 3

Ni no Kuni (Another World), for those are don't know, is a video game developed by Level 5, in conjunction with Studio Ghibli.  Ghibli's staff has worked on the character designs, as well as extensive animation scenes for the game.  Originally intended solely for Nintendo DS, the game is now headed for the Playstation 3 later this year.  The surprise announcement was made at the recent E3 show in L.A.

This new trailer is surprisingly short on Ghibli's animated sequences, and instead largely focuses on the in-game graphics, which are intended to copy that anime style very closely.  The "cel shaded" style has been around for a decade (it was pioneered on our beloved Sega Dreamcast), and looks superb.

Ghibli Freaks are going to be much more interested in this PS3 version, if only because we'll get to see the studio's excellent work on a larger screen.  This should really look amazing on a big plasma set.  I still think the look of Ni no Kuni is a bit generic, more of a stereotypical "Ghibli" design than anything really unique.  But we must remind ourselves that this is, essentially, a contract job for the studio.  Level 5 are the ones in charge.

To be completely honest, I never had much interest in this game.  The PS3 announcement is a nice surprise, and even if I'm interested in the animation and the character designs, I'm still not all that thrilled for the game.  Arriety remains far more compelling to my eyes.  That said, I will keep an open mind and hope for the best.  Let's hope Level 5 and Ghibli can create something memorable.

Third Trailer for Arriety (The Borrowers)

Here is the third movie trailer for Arrietty from Studio Ghibli.  We finally get to see more footage from the movie, which appears to be from an early scene.  The animation and art direction are superb, brilliant, as expected.  This still feels like a "teaser" trailer to me, but I'm very intrigued, and I find myself drawn into this world.

I can't wait to see this movie.  I really do hope Disney will release it to American theatres next year.

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