daniel thomas Categories: blu-ray, kiki's delivery service, mononoke, the wind rises
As all good Ghibli Freaks know, this week sees the release of three new Studio Ghibli Blu-Ray movies in the USA: The Wind Rises, Princess Mononoke, and Kiki's Delivery Service. It's always so rare that we get anything released by Disney at all, having three movies at once is especially grand.
I haven't had a chance to examine these BDs for myself, but reviews have been mostly positive. Picture quality should be excellent, if a step below the Japanese BDs, color tones will be rich, warm and extremely detailed. Studio Ghibli looks so much better on high definition over DVD, it's worth upgrading your home theater system just for these movies. But that's just my opinion.
The only negative is that Mononoke uses dubtitles - what, "dubtitles?" - instead of the literal English translation from earlier releases. That's completely baffling and frustrating, but it wouldn't be the first time this has happened; Disney's US Blu-Ray of Castle in the Sky is also plagued with incorrect subtitles. It's a puzzling oversight, and one that's completely unnecessary. Because of this, I cannot recommend the US release over the Japanese. That's just me. If you prefer Neil Gaiman's US script, then you'll be perfectly happy with this release. It was a fairly good anime dub for its time, more respectful than most. But it still would be nice to enjoy the Japanese soundtrack as well, and using incorrect subtitles detracts from that experience.
Kiki's Delivery Service, similarly, also uses dubtitles instead of a literal translation, but this has always been the case. We have never had proper subtitles of this movie, in any format. Fortunately, the subtitles are taken from the old Streamline Pictures dub, which was very enjoyable. There's one throwaway joke about the Hindenberg that I could do away with, but it's never really bothered me. Kiki is underrated in the Miyazaki canon; for me, it continues the gentle, pastoral pace of My Neighbor Totoro, and its insights on emerging adolescence, and any period of transition in one's life, ring true.
Years ago, I was grappling with long-term unemployment, the kind where you fear that you'll never find work again. When watching Kiki's Delivery Service, the scene where Kiki sat in a park, lost and uncertain, stuck me to my core. I felt that moment, that disorientation, that worry. Where will I go? What will happen to me? That scene has always resonated in my memory, because of my experience. If there's anything I respect about Miyazaki, it's his emotional honesty. This is a great movie.
And The Wind Rises? Still a masterpiece, still controversial, but always destined to spark debates and deep discussions about Miyazaki, World War II, and the movies. It was criminally ignored by the so-called fans when it was released in US theaters early this year. Here is your chance for redemption, kids.