Marcee's Engagement Ring

Last night, Marcee and I spent a terrific evening at a small French restaurant in Bogota.  And Marcee now has her engagement ring.  It's now official!  If the USCIS is cooperative, she'll be on a plane to the United States in May, 2012, with the wedding in June or July.

Just for the record, I was sweating bullets when I proposed.  Short of breath, arms shaking, the whole works.  Thank goodness for the steaks and wine.  It really was a terrific restaurant.

To celebrate our engagement, there's free pie for everyone!  Enjoy!*

*You actually have to score your own pie.

Update (12/14): Reader Phil White from Cambridge, UK, very kindly brightened up the first photo.  What a wonderful gesture!  We are both humbled and moved by everyone's kindness.  And, look!  We can actually see what the French restaurant looks like now!  This was a wonderful place, perfect atmosphere, and was discovered entirely by chance (my first choice for a restaurant had closed down).  Our entire relationship has been defined by such moments of improvisation.

Thanks again to everyone for your kind support.

Future Boy Conan - Blu-Ray Screenshots

Alright, let's take a look at how the new Future Boy Conan Blu-Ray Memorial Box compares to the standard DVD release.  The new high-definition transfer is taken from the original 35mm camera negative, and Bandai have spared no expense in restoring Conan to its original glory.  Hayao Miyazaki's 1978 masterpiece has never looked so good.

As always, colors are richer and more luminous in Blu-Ray.  Details are sharp and clear, and you can appreciate the artists' brushstrokes (now there's something I sorely miss in animation).  What's most striking is how much brighter everything now appears.  I hadn't realized how needlessly dark Conan appeared on DVD. I don't think most anime fans realize just how good these classic series truly look.  It's going to be a revelation for everyone, and if you're in charge of your local anime club, I highly recommending pooling your money together for the Conan set.

More screenshots will appear after the jump.  Update: All six photos are now available.  Connection speeds are a little better today, nice!  Enjoy the Conan shots!

Future Boy Conan Arrives on Blu-Ray

On November 25, Future Boy Conan made its long-awaited arrival on Blu-Ray in Japan.  The box set uses a high-definition transfer of the original 35mm camera negative, resulting in a picture quality that is stunning.  I daresay that Conan has never looked this good, even in its original 1978 TV run.

The box features embossed graphics and text, which looks wonderful.  Included are two discs, one for the series, and the second for extras.  A number of booklets are also included, which is very, very nice.  I'm not certain if storyboards are included, either in print or on the extras disc, but I'm sure one of us will eventually save up the money for this package and share all the secrets.

The Conan BD set includes the original 4:3 screen ratio, as well as a 16:9 widescreen mode that slightly crops the picture.  In my next post, I'll include some screenshots so that you can see for yourselves.

Sadly, it appears that no English subtitles are included.  That stinks.  In a perfect world, publishers in the West would pick up this BD box set.  Until then, we shall continue to download our fansub releases on the internet. you think Hollywood has ever figure this one out?  We want access to the movies.  If they're not going to be available in our region, or not available in the current format (1080p, digital downloads), we'll just take 'em.  As always, the lesson is that we must support those publishers and distributors who support the scene.  Show the business suits that there is a demand for these series.  I'm more than willing to pay a premium price for this excellent BD box set.

Kudos to Bandai for their excellent release.  My hopes are now extremely high for the Heidi BD box set, which will be released just in time for Christmas.  It appears that Bandai holds the rights to the entire World Masterpiece Theater series - does this mean we will soon see 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother and Anne of Green Gables on Blu-Ray?  Onegai shimasu!  Gimme Gimmie!

P.S. Yes, I know that I totally have to get back to work and write the second half of the Future Boy Conan blogathon.  We are totally going to finish this thing, kids.

Discotek Acquires Panda Kopanda DVD in 2012

Hot on the heels of scoring the original 1971-72 Lupin III television series, indie publisher Discotek has scored the DVD rights to Panda Kopanda.  The disc will be released sometime in 2012.  I don't know what extras, if any, are planned for inclusion, but I'd be more than happy to help out on the project.

As always, I highly recommend anime scholar Ben Ettinger for a commentary track.  If anyone at Discotek manages to read this, feel free to contact me and we'll get to work.


Tales From Earthsea (Gedo Senki) - Blu-Ray Screenshots

The internet connection here at The Cranky Croc hostel in Bogota is on the slow side, but I'm still determined to upload and share all the important news and photos from the newest Blu-Ray releases.  Yesterday, we had a look at Howl's Moving Castle, and today we have Tales From Earthsea (Gedo Senki), which was also released in Japan last month.

This movie has many spectacular landscape artwork, and fans are sure to be amazed with this BD release.  There's a vitality to the color that's striking, and it's a clear improvement over the standard DVD.  I've found that animated movies in general appear a little washed-out in 480 resolution, and improve dramatically in 1080p.  If you want some movies to really show off your home theater system, these movies are a must.

The rest of the screenshots appear after the jump.  Update: All eight screenshots are now available.  Thanks again to Asian Blu-Ray for snapping the photos.  Enjoy!


Howl's Moving Castle - Blu-Ray Screenshots

Studio Ghibli's newest Blu-Ray releases are available now in Japan, for the slightly horrifying price of $80USD.  Fortunately, most of you will be able to buy these discs when they're released in your country sometime next year.  We Americans, however, will remain at the mercy of Disney's whims.  In any event, region-free discs and online merchants make it easier than ever to build up your Ghibli movie collection, even without paying the $80 ransom the Japanese are subjected to.

Let's take a look at these wonderful screenshots from the Howl's Blu-Ray.  It looks terrific, as you would expect.  I've noticed that a lot of Ghibli movies struggled on the standard DVD format; Howl's Moving Castle was a marvel to see on a big screen, projected on 35mm film.  480p resolution just doesn't come close.  1080p is a very welcome improvement, indeed.  And, no doubt, we'll be saying the same thing once these movies start arriving on the next media format, 4K resolution.  For now, we'll be more than happy.

The rest of the screenshots lie after the jump.  My thanks, as always, to Asian Blu-Ray Guide for providing these photos.  I'm eternally grateful for all their hard work.

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