Studio Ghibli Remastered DVDs in Japan

Late last year, around the time that Studio Ghibli released their massive Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray Box, they also reissued the studio's catalog titles on DVD. These discs are based on the HD Blu-Ray remasters for the box set, and are now available for 4,700Yen, or roughly $45USD.

I'm quite curious to see how these DVDs look. The prior discs were released over a decade ago, and looked quite excellent for the time; Nausicaa was arguably the best of the lot, super crisp and sharp picture, and even included an audio commentary track (the only Ghibli film to do so). The Region 2 Japanese discs were also notably superior to most, if not all, of the DVDs released by Disney here in the US. Don't even get me started on that dreadful Castle in the Sky cover; those kids look like they've been to the plastic surgeon.

The cover designs have also been changed somewhat. The Ghibli ga Ippai DVDs originally featured a color band over the top half, with original artwork below (usually taken from the Studio Ghibli Calendars). That changed to full-size illustrations by the time Spirited Away and Nausicaa were released. I really like these new covers, which reprint one of the movie poster designs; I must admit, however, I do prefer the older Nausicaa cover. But to each their own. And the back cover illustrations look terrific. Very classy, very stylish.

Nausicaa and Spirited Away also appear to have 3 discs in their package. I'm quite curious to know what is included. Usually, the Ghibli DVDs included storyboards on the second disc, but Princess Mononoke included a third "International" disc, featuring eight foreign language tracks. Perhaps this is what has happened to these new releases.

I am curious to see how these new DVDs look, and how they compare to the previous releases. Will the difference be as noticable? The older discs already looked excellent, and given the size limitations of the DVD format, I'm not sure how much more could be squeezed out of the discs. I'm also a bit hesitant to recommend these videos, since the Blu-Ray discs are so spectacular, and a quantum leap in quality over the standard-definition format. But those Japanese BDs cost upwards of $75-$80, restricting them to the most diehard of fans. The average family can't afford such a luxury.

For those families, and for those still sticking with DVD (a format that is still very successful, while BD has stagnated for years), these Studio Ghibli videos are an excellent alternative. How I wish Disney could have been bothered to put such care into these movies! Ah, well, such is life.

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