Studio Ghibli Feature Film Blu-Rays

As of January, 2012, these are Studio Ghibli's Blu-Ray releases in Japan.  We're currently at eight feature films - Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Castle in the Sky, Mimi wo Sumaseba, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Howl's Moving Castle, Gedo Senki (Tales From Earthsea), Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea, and Arrietty.  The next round of BD releases have not yet been announced, but if tradition holds, then From Up on Poppy Hill should arrive in late summer.

It's fascinating to observe how closely Ghibli holds their strongest cards close to their chest.  Their biggest films - My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away - are probably coming sooner rather than later, as the studio is locked in production of Hayao Miyazaki's next feature film (by all accounts very long and complicated, and NOT a Porco Rosso sequel).  At least, that's my guess.  I'll bet money that one of these three films arrives on Blu-Ray in 2012.

Personally, I'm hoping that Ghibli continues its current pace of releasing four BD films per year (at Summer and Christmas), and maybe accelerated a little.  I know, I'm impatient and want all the Hannukah presents now now now.  But I also feel that Blu-Ray isn't going to have as long a lifespan as DVD or VHS.  As Terence McKenna would say, history repeats at faster and faster cycles.  Already we are seeing the emergence of the first televisions for 4K resolution (meaning, 4,000 vertical lines of resolution, compared to BD's 1,080 lines).  More importantly, online digital distribution is galloping ever forward and will begin to devour into the "physical media" market.  Studio Ghibli cannot casually assume another decade for the Blu-Ray, 1080p format.

Anyway, that's my theory at the moment.  Please don't consider it anything more than that.

Which brings us to Disney.  Look at those movies above.  Studio Ghibli has eight feature films on Blu-Ray in Japan.  How many are available in the United States?  Two - Nausicaa and Ponyo.  Presumably, Arrietty arrives on BD later this year, so that makes three.  By that time, Japan will have added Poppy Hill and be up to nine.

The UK, Europe and Australia all manage to release their Ghibli BD's only a few months after Japan.  What is the problem here, Disney?  Is it because you can't sell stuffed Totoros or dump No-Face into the Ice Capades or turn Nausicaa into one of your Stepford Wives Fairy Tale Princesses?  Is it because these Blu-Rays and DVDs don't sell enough?  Is you still mad about Mononoke?  I know, I know, the Weinsteins were only suggesting they be allowed to make a few cuts into the picture...and then Miyazaki dumps a samurai sword in your mailbox.  With an inscription that read, "No cuts."

I really don't get this.  Disney and Ghibli have had a successful working relationship since 1997.  The rest of the world is able to see these movies, so why not us?  What's the hold up?  What's the plan?


erik.kerr said...

I have been wondering the same thing and honestly, it's really disappointing. Sometimes I wonder if Dinsney is secretly trying to sabatoge Ghibli's potential success in North America. With little to no publicity for Ghibli's theatrical releases and as you said only two blu ray releases. I really tried to see Gedo Senki here in LA when it was in theaters and I couldn't even find any listings online. I feel that Disney is doing Studio Ghibli such a disgrace.

Mel said...

I always wondered about this but it's more systemic of the US culture in general than Disney I think.
I French so I grew up with anime and manga all over kids prime time TV shows, and Ghibli is highly successful in France.

Here Ghibli doesn't sell at all, movies come out a year later, if at all, in the theater and it seems like no one goes to see them...

But the same hold true to manga/anime. Up until say early 2000s anime and manga were still very obscure int his country when they had bee booming everywhere else for at least a decade.

I think the main reason is that there's so much content coming from the US that most people can't be bothered to check foreign content, loathe subtitles and so on....

Anywho! thank for listing the bluray, I'm heading to Japan in August and I plan to grab them all.. $$$ :(

Ghibli said...

I own all of those BDs, except for Earthsea (wait a sec... there, it'll be remedied in a few week's time).

A funny thing to consider... It's all thanks to file sharing... If it were not for it, I would not have been introduced to Studio Ghibli's works and would not at this point be spending inordinate amount of money on their products.

I am not too worried about BDs being phased out. 4k resolution sounds gorgeous, but there is the question of viewing distance/screen size to consider. I've been watching Howl on a 65" screen the other day and I ended up moving my chair to within 1,5 meters from the screen to be able to discern all the fine little details that this films is so full of. Otherwise I usually sit at 3 meters from the screen and am doing just fine. Now, a screen with 4k resolution would require an even closer viewing distance or a much larger screen size for the human retina to be able to see all the fine details.
Following the diagram here
you would need to have a 90 inch screen to be able to just barely start noticing the benefit of 4k from a 3 meters' viewing distance.

Anonymous said...

Laputa and Whisper of the Heart are coming alongside Arrietty in May. There hasn't been an official announcement but the preorders are available on amazon with box art.

Blood Muffin said...

I just recently pre-ordered arrietty, castle in the sky, and whisper of the heart on disney blu ray (available through amazon coming out on May 22nd). I agree that Disney should hurry up and release them more frequently but this is a good start. I think what they are doing is releasing the Ghibli movies three at a time every time a new ghibli movie comes out relating to how old the movies are. For example Nausicaa and Castle in the sky are oldest. Next will be Totoro. Then there are the middle films starting with whisper of the heart which will probably be followed by princess mononoke. Then you have the new films also being released like arrietty and poppy hill on blu ray. Eventually they will all be released but it will probably still take a while. I doubt the next version of blu ray will come out soon and unlike blu ray in comparison to dvd I do not think it will be as impressive or make that much of a difference. Thats why my film collection is all blu rays. And when they do come out with a 4k resolution format im not going to buy it. :D

Unknown said...

4K isn't actually 4,000 lines vertical, it's 4,000 lines horizontal.
It's still higher resolution, but not as much as one thinks.
Most films are only mastered in 2K, which is 2,000 lines horizontal, only a tiny amount more than the 1920 lines of 1080p.
So increasing to 4K will do nothing for most films.
Even the Star wars prequels were only shot in 2K.

Shindi Regitasyali said...

tell me where did you pre ordered arrietty and castle in the sky? :-)

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