daniel thomas Categories: blu-ray, dvd, miyazaki
The big surprise on Japan's home video front this weekend is the announcement of a massive Hayao Miyazaki box set, containing all of his directorial feature films, including Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, and the Studio Ghibli features.
Prices for this set are, well, horrifying - 64,800 Yen ($627.78 USD) for Blu-Ray. Similar box sets for TV series like Heidi, Girl of the Alps sell for over $300. So this is definitely one for the diehard fans with the fat wallets. Studio Ghibli released a similar box set on laserdisc years ago, and it has become a highly sought collectors' item (it remains the only place to find the TV interview featuring Miyazaki with Akira Kurosawa).
The inclusion of Castle of Cagliostro is a huge surprise. Previously, this film was released on BD in 2008 by VAP. It was a decent release, with sharper picture than earlier DVDs, but fans were left unimpressed and slightly disgruntled. With Ghibli at the helm, we can expect the same masterful treatment given to all the studio's films, including superb sound quality and preservation of film grain.
This begs the question: Which version of Cagliostro will Discotek receive, the 2008 VAP release, or the 2014 Ghibli ga Ippai? I am hoping and praying for the newer version, but no official word has been announced as of yet. When Discotek has something to announce, I'm sure they'll let us know.
Two bonus discs are included in the package. The first contains another big surprise: Yuki's Sun, Miyazaki's 1972 pilot film, complete and uncut. This was Miyazaki's second directorial film (after Lupin the 3rd: Series One, with Isao Takahata), and his first solo outing as a director. This pilot film has shown publicly only once: in 2001, on a Japanese TV program promoting Spirited Away; even then, only part of the film was broadcast.
Also included on the first bonus disc is Miyazaki's 1995 short film, On Your Mark, which originally played alongside Mimi wo Sumaseba in Japanese theaters, and last seen on the 2006 Ghibli Short Short DVD. This music video for pop duo Chage & Aska follows a futuristic science-fiction scenario, quite different from Miyazaki's usual Jules Verne style, but includes a number of nods to Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky. The film can be seen as a "saying goodbye" to Miyazaki's greatest heroine, as he had finally completed his epic, 1100-page Nausicaa manga comic.
A third extra for the box set are three episodes of the 1972-73 Japanese TV anime, "Akado Suzunosuke," which were storyboarded by Hayao Miyazaki (Isao Takahata is credited as the series' "chief director"). Both Miyazaki and Takahata had assisted with directing, storyboards and animation on numerous TV productions in the late 1960s and 1970s, so this is a good opportunity for many of us to fill in the gaps in their long careers. This will be fun to watch.
The second box set bonus disc will contain the complete, 90-minute press conference where Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement.from directing feature films. It's an interesting capstone to this chapter of the artist's career, and adds weight for those arguing that, yes, Miya-san really is retiring this time. Bonus note: Were you aware that the 1972 Yuki's Sun pilot film was shown in Japanese theaters alongside The Wind Rises? The "first" and "last" Miyazaki films shown together - I'd say Studio Ghibli has been banking pretty heavily on his stepping aside.
"The Collected Works of Director Hayao Miyazaki" will be released in Japan on June 18. Again, I don't believe this box set will be seen outside Japan, but it's quite possible that we'll get the new Cagliostro Blu-Ray, and hopefully the extras. Now if Ghibli could only get their hands on the classic Toei Doga feature films, we'd really be rolling.
(Update: I edited this post to more fully include the details of the box set. Thanks to Anime News Network for their dedication and hard work.)