Castle in the Sky Blu-Ray Has Arrived!

Huzzah!  My copy of Studio Ghibli's newly-released Castle in the Sky Blu-Ray arrived in the mail yesterday.  I ordered from, which not only had the lowest prices, but the fastest delivery times.  My package arrived in just three days...nice!

This is a sterling package.  The cover design is made of thick, durable cardboard, and folds open in the middle.  It resembles a book instead of a plastic DVD case, and I am greatly impressed.  Small magnets are hidden inside, and this enables the cover to "snap" shut with ease.  The disc is held tightly by a front panel, which is now slightly larger than the panel for the Nausicaa Blu-Ray (there were complaints about discs falling out).

The cover is sleek, bold in its sunset reddish tone, with minimal graphics and no clutter anywhere.  All the technial (cough, legal) fine print is contained on the back of the plastic bag that comes wrapped around the case, which is a very savvy move.  I can't say enough good things about this design.  It's economical, it's stylized, it's cool.  The cardboard is quick thick and sturdy, and it is designed to last on your library shelf for years.  I'm highly enthusiastic about Ghibli's choice of packaging; I just want to carry this thing around and show people just how cool a Blu-Ray box can look.  This is what the movie industry should be using, not that hideous plastic.

A small booklet is contained inside, and includes notes from Hayao Miyazaki and one of the film's producers, copies of the movie posters, and a description of the extras on the disc.  To my surprise, there really aren't any new extras on this BD.  It's the exact same material from the Japanese DVD; of these, the half-hour behind-the-scenes promo video is the best.  A younger Miyazaki, clean-shaven and with jet black hair, looks so serious, do intense in his work.  Isao Takahata appears ageless.  Either he's never grown old or he was old from the start; I can never tell which.  Of the Ghibli staff, Michiyo Yasuda, the master of color, is a joy to see, as she shows off the tools of the studio's Ink and Paint department.

If you're concerned about the lack of BD extras, keep in mind that the movie itself takes up over 40GB, a stunning 6K transfer that looks absolutely astonishing.  Digital compression, artifacts, edge enhancement: all have been banished forever.  Now we finally see the sterling, bold colors of Ghibli's flagship movie.  You'll want to sit with your nose next to the HDTV, just to soak in all the clear details and every brushstroke.

Consumers in Japan have been complaining loudly about the Ghibli BDs, that the packages are flimsy, that the picture quality is ruined by film grain.  Frankly, they're a bunch of damn crybabies.  They need to grow up.  The packaging is sterling, and unless your idea of a movie night involves throwing the cover around like a hacky sack, your disc will be safe.  And the film grain is never an issue.  I'll bet most Westerners won't even notice that it exists until someone informs them.  These movies were shot and displayed on 35mm film.  This is what film looks like.  My verdict: Castle in the Sky looks spectacular.  No need for concern.

Castle in the Sky and My Neighbors the Yamadas (which I haven't bought yet) were released in Japan in December, so I would expect them to remain region-exclusive for the next six to nine months.  I am confident these movies will be available in the West in time for Christmas, on the same schedule as Nausicaa.  But no official word has been made, and we probably won't hear anything until summer at the earliest.  Keep that in mind as you consider whether to pull out the debit cards and import these BDs.  Expensive, yes.  But you'll have bragging rights for a long time.


mikebrns15 said...

I'm expecting mine any day now, though I'd argue that yesasia has the slight edge on for price. Also, because I ordered from yesasia, I have a $5 off coupon to use when I buy Yamadas in a few weeks.

Regarding the grain: it's funny how difficult it is to get people to understand that the point of having a high definition image is not to make everything look EDGE's to make it look as close to film as possible. I understand there was a conscious decision on Miyazaki's part to actually apply some DNR to the transfer for Laputa, though the reactions I've seen have been that it isn't blatantly obvious, just a tad less grainy than Nausicaa.

Glad yours arrived.

Mister Tan said...

Are there English subtitles? Thank you!

keep up the great work!


Heinz said...

I bought both Blu-Ray in too. You really must bought 'My Neighbors the Yamadas'. The last weekend I saw it for the first time: it's really a funny movie and the colors look gorgeous in high definition.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@mister tan: English subtitles are standard on all Studio Ghibli DVDs and Blu-Rays from Japan. That's a very generous move on their part, because a lot of anime publishers wouldn't bother.

@heinz: I agree that Yamadas looks fantastic, even on DVD. It has been a favorite of mine ever since I first discovered it 6 or 7 years ago. Japan, unfortunately, still won't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Major kudos to Ghibli for releasing this movie now, when they could just as easily released a heavy-hitter like Totoro.

@mike burns: You are correct that YesAsia has a slight edge on price, but this only for the "free shipping" option, which means a 2-week waiting time. Amazon sent me my BD in three days. For me, it was a luxury I was willing to pay.

Also, consider the Hong Kong releases of the BDs. Their DVDs were typically half the price of their Japanese counterparts. Unfortunately, the picture quality was never as good, suffering from interlacing issues. The R2 DVDs were just a little clearer and sharper.

I don't know how the Nausicaa BD from Hong Kong looks. If it is the same, then you have a much cheaper option once Castle in the Sky and Yamadas are released there.

deschain83 said...

I bought Laputa from last week, it arrived in the same 3 day time scale and they sent me a dhl tracking number so i could basically watch it go from Osaka to Frankfurt to England then to to my door in Ireland!

After the 4th watch through i was so impressed by the spectacular picture and packaging quality i couldnt resist ordering Nausicaa from It should arrive tomorrow and i cant wait to compare the picture quality to my Optimum Uk bluray release which i read on Ghibliblog has been slightly adjusted! Heres hoping that trend continues with the Uk releases so as i have a vaild excuse to buy both!

Heinz said...

You name Totoro Blu-Ray in your comment. Curiously there is no news about the next Studio Ghibli Blu-Rays and obviously in the coming months all the attention will be put on 'The Borrower Arrietty' Blu-Ray. But I'm really impatient to know. Will be 'My Neighbor Totoro' and 'Grave of the Fireflies' the next Blu-Ray releases? Did the last releases sold well in Japan? What do you think?

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@heinz: I have no clue which movies will be the next Blu-Ray releases. I'm just going right down the list, that's all. Nausicaa, Laputa, Totoro...makes sense.

The release schedule in Japan is Summer (to coincide with the latest film) and Christmas. We know Arrietty is coming to Blu-Ray this summer, which means 2-3 more Ghibli BDs released as well.

The wild card is the future of the Ghibli studio itself. Can it survive Hayao Miyazaki? That's the $64,000 Question, and it may still end either way. Ghibli's fate will have an effect on future BD releases.

Hillatio said...


Madman is releasing Laputa and My Neighbors the Yamadas in Australia (Region B), on April 20.

David G. Paul said...

Seems only had Ponyo and Nausicaa have made it to Blu-ray in the UK... anyone know when laputa will be released over here? Already have it on DVD but keen to upgrade

marc said...

Lucky! This is one of the Ghibli films I'd not seen prior to starting my Miyazaki Madness tournament but now it's in my top 5. Soooo looking forward to this and those screenshots you posted on another page only sealed the deal for me. MUST OWN!!!

But alas living n the US means having to wait for the Region 1 release. Really should look into a region free BD player though, should't I?:P

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@marc: Blu-Ray is divided into only 3 regions, as opposed to DVD's 6. The US and Japan both share Region 1, which means any BD from Japan will work on an American player.

Castle in the Sky, like all Ghibl BDs, is REGION FREE, so it will play on all Blu-Ray players. I have a standard Sony unit and it works fine.

This movie looks spectacular on BD. I actually think it looks slightly better than Nausicaa, but this is probably because it's a more colorful movie, and I like lots of warm colors.

marc said...

REGION FREE??? Why didn't anyone tell me about this?!?! I thought I kwew a decent amount about AV and Blu Ray but I feel quite stooopid for not knowing this:(

I'm going to *fingers fly across keyboard* order this right now *clicks checkout and waits patiently by front door*. Thanks for the heads up Daniel:)

NealP said...

I have been following your Ghibli blog for several years. Thank you for your excellent work in informing the masses about this singular studio.

In your opinion, which CitS Blu-ray is better? Japan or U.S. ? Why?

And does the Japan BD include an English dub?

Thank you kindly.

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