Ghibli Blog 10th Anniversary (3/29/06)

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Ghibli Blog!  Our first post was published on March 29, 2006. Here's free cake for everyone...well, a photo of a cake. It's still free.

I wanted to do something special for the occasion, but my desktop PC broke down (thank you for making crummy hard drives, HP). This happened a lot to me over the last decade. You'd be surprised just how many essays were written at coffee shops.

Anyway, I'll see what I can do this week to mark the anniversary. I am working on the writing projects, of course. I still have no idea how many volumes the Miyazaki-Takahata books will include, at least a couple. And there's a videogame and film review book on the way. And an art gallery book if I can pull it off. I would also like a nap. That would be nice.

Much thanks to everyone who has read and supported Ghibli Blog since 2006.

Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesteday) US Box Office

Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday)

Isao Takahata's 1991 masterpiece, Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday), is closing out its limited theatrical run in the US. This is a good time to take stock of its performance.

According to Box Office Mojo, the movie has earned $415,941 as of March 27, 2016, playing on a total of 44 screens. A dozen theaters await their releases in April (our master list will be updated to reflect this), which will add to the total. I personally remain hopeful that we can break $500,000, which would be a very good achievement for a movie of this nature, and its very limited run.

I used to get worked up whenever a Studio Ghibli film failed to gain any mainstream momentum in US theaters, but not much anymore. Animation in this country remains stuck in the ghetto of "electric babysitter," suitable only for pacifying small children and getting them out of their parents' hair. That paradigm is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. And it's pretty obvious that Isao Takahata doesn't fit into that paradigm at all, unless we were to consider the 1974 Heidi TV series.

Omohide Poro Poro is an Ozu film set to watercolors. It's very unique and unlike anything seen in the West. Even diehard film buffs will require multiple viewings, and a knowledge of Japanese history and culture, to appreciate its depths. It's far easier to run to the multiplex and watch Batman v Superman, and sit back and have a fun time.

This film, like all of Studio Ghibli's works, will find its audience on home video, and its reputation will grow in time. Even then, these will always remain off the mainstream path, in the thickets. But that's alright. Many of the best discoveries in life lie off the beaten path. If you want "mainstream," you'll end up with shopping malls, fast food chains and reality shows. The gormet food requires some effort to discover, but the rewards are there.

I'm definitely looking forward to GKIDS' inevitable Blu-Ray release, which should include both English and Japanese language soundtracks and some nice extras. If you have the chance, definitely go see the movie. You'll never know when you'll get a chance to see Ghibli on the big screen again.


Studio Ghibli Blu-Ray "Silhouette Series"

Studio Ghibli Blu-Ray
Studio Ghibli Blu-Ray
Studio Ghibli Blu-Ray

In Japan, Studio Ghibli has completed their long task of releasing all of their feature animated films to Blu-Ray, informally known as the "silhouette series." These packages come in thick cardboard, with magnets underneath the cover. Booklets and postcards of the movie posters are also included in each package. Prices are rather expensive, roughly $70-$80 USD, but each movie includes English subtitles (and in some cases, the US dubs), and the packaging is absolutely wonderful.

Is it necessary to buy these import discs in 2016? With a few exceptions, probably not. Most of the Ghibli features are now available in the US on Blu-Ray, either by Disney, GKIDS Films or Sentai Filmworks. Umi ga Kikoeru (Ocean Waves) and My Neighbors the Yamadas have yet to be released on our shores. Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) is currently playing in select US theaters, and will arrive on home video later this year.

In addition, a number of Disney-released Ghibli titles were released with "dubtitles," transcriptions of the dubbed script instead of the original Japanese. This list includes Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, Pom Poko and Princess Mononoke. Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind has an issue with US credits burned onto the film image, regardless of language selection. And Ponyo uses lossy audio on the Japanese soundtrack. All of these issues are resolved, aside from Kiki, on the Japanese BDs, and all issues have been resolved on The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki box set.

Personally, I would either save for the spectacular BD box set (which also features new film transfers and a number of key extras) or import the above-mentioned titles. I would be thrilled to collect the entire set, but that's a very expensive proposition, so I'm not losing sleep over it right now. I am also happy to support smaller distributors like GKIDS or Sentai, who do excellent work with the Ghibli catalog. I still have bitter memories over the collapse of the retail anime market at the turn of the century. We need to support these companies so that they can continue to give us great movies.

If I had the money to burn, absolutely I'd buy the Ghibli silhouette series. Heck, yeah. But grownups have this thing called money.

These excellent photos come from Ghibli Collector, Tumblr fan site that is loaded with photos and .gifs for all the Ghibli films, and a few prior works, including Future Boy Conan, Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro and Gauche the Cellist. I recommend adding this site to your bookmarks. Much thanks for the great photos.


Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) Cities and Theaters

Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday)

The following is the complete list of cities and theaters playing Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) in the US, courtesy of distributor GKIDS. Each link takes you directly to the theater's respective website, please go there for specifics on times and choice of soundtrack (US or Japan). More cities and theaters may be added in the future, and we'll be sure to update the list if and when that happens.

(Last Updated: March 29, 2016)

January 1New York - IFC Center  

February 26
Los Angeles, CA - Landmark Nuart Theater
Irvine, CA - Regal University Town Center 
Washington DC - Landmark E Street Cinema
Boston, MA - Landmark Kendall Square
San Diego, CA - Landmark Ken Cinema
Denver, CO - Landmark Esquire Theater
Austin, TX - Regal Arbor 8 @ Great Hills
Austin, TX- Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
Philadelphia, PA - Landmark Ritz at the Bourse
Charlotte, NC - Regal Ballantyne Theater
Toronto, ON - TIFF Bell Lightbox
Columbus, OH - Gateway Film Center (2/26 only)
Seattle, WA - SIFF Uptown Cinema
Buffalo, NY - North Park Theatre (2/27-28) 
San Antonio, TX - Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes (2/29 only)
Winchester, VA - Alamo Drafthouse Winchester (3/2)

March 4
Los Angeles, CA - ArcLight HollywoodP
asadena, CA -Laemmle Playhouse
Santa Monica, CA - Laemmle Monica Film Center
San Diego, CA - Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas
Kalamazoo, MI - Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo
San Francisco, CA - Landmark Embarcadero
Rochester, NY - Little Theater (3/5)
Berkeley, CA - Landmark California

Akron, OH - Nightlight Cinema
Victoria, BC - The Vic Theatre
Saskatoon, SK - The Roxy
Littleton, CO - Alamo Drafthouse Littleton (3/7)
Palo Alto, CA - Landmark Theatres
San Jose, CA - Camera 3 Cinemas
Houston, TX - Landmark River Oaks
Littleton, CO - Alamo Drafthouse (3/7)
Providence, RI - Cable Car Cinema (3/5)

March 11
Beverly Hills, CA - Laemmle Music Hall
North Hollywood, CA - Laemmle NoHo
Berkeley, CA - Landmark Shattuck Cinemas
Baltimore, MD - The Charles
Asheville, NC - Carolina Asheville
Camarillo, CA - Regency Paseo Camarillo Cinemas
Cleveland, OH - Cedar Lee Theatre
Honolulu, HI - Consolidated Kahala 8
Portland, OR - Regal Fox Tower
Cincinatti, OH - Esquire Theater
Milwaukee, WI - Landmark Oriental Theatre
Minneapolis, MN - Landmark Uptown Theatre
Atlanta, GA - Landmark Midtown Art
Tempe, AZ - Harkins Valley Art
Waterloo, ON - Princess Cinema
Ithaca, NY - Cornell Cinema (3/12-13)
Houston, TX - Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park
Katy, TX - Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Vancouver, BC - Vancity Theatre (3/14)
Notre Dame, IN - DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (3/13-16)
Knoxville, TN - Regal Downtown West
Albuquerque, NM - United Artists High Ridge 8
Grand Rapids, MI - Celebration Cinemas Woodland
Vancouver, WA - Kiggins Theatre

Santa Cruz, CA - The Nick
Dallas, TX - Angelika Film Center and Cafe
Plano, TX - Angelika Film Center and Cafe
Chicago, IL - Music Box Theatre
Santa Rosa, CA - Summerfield Cinemas
St. Louis, MO - Landmark Tivoli Theatre
Lubbock, TX - Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

March 18
Minneapolis, MN - Landmark Edina Theatre
Seattle, WA - SIFF Film Center (3/18-21)
Washington, DC - Angelika Pop-Up Cinema

Tampa, FL - Tampa Theatre (3/21-22)
Montreal, QC - Cinéma du Parc

Hartford, CT - Real Art Ways
Salt Lake City, UT - Broadway Centre Cinemas
Jacksonville, FL - Sun-Ray Cinemas
Indianapolis, IN - Landmark Keystone Art
Albany, NY - Landmark Spectrum 8
Lowell, MA - The Luna Theatre
Iowa City, IA - FilmScene
Lambertsville, NJ - ACME Screening Room (3/18-3/20)
Santa Fe, NM - CCA Cinematheque

Pittsburgh, PA - Row House
Tuscon, AZ - The Loft Cinema
Lancaster, PA - Zoetropolis
Salem, MA - CinemaSalem
Camas, WA - Liberty Theatre
Olympia, WA - Capitol Theater (3/19)
Memphis, TN - Wolfchase Galleria Cinemas
Hilo, HI - The Palace Theater
Jefferson City, MO - Capitol City Cinema
Oklahoma City, OK - Oklahoma City Museum of Art

March 25
Eugene, OR - Bijou Art Cinemas
Montpelier, VT - Savoy Theatre (3/26)
Howell, MI - Historic Howell Theater (3/26-4/3)
Keene, NH - Putnam Theater

Miami, FL - O Cinema Wynwood
Winston-Salem, NC - Aperture Cinema (3/26-27)
Fort Worth, TX - Modern Art Museum of Ft Worth
Edmonton, AB - Metro Cinema

April 1
Halifax, NS - Carbon Arc CinemaVancouver, BC - Rio Theater (4/6)
Omaha, NE - Film StreamsWilmington, DE - Theatre NGainesville, FL - The Hippodrome 

April 8
Oakland, CA - The New ParkwaySan Francisco, CA - The Roxie
St. Johnsbury, VT - Catamount Arts Center

April 15
Gloucester, MA - Cape Ann Community Cinema

April 22
Potsdam, NY - The Roxy Theatre
Athens, GA - Athens Cine

April 29
Lincoln, NE - Mary Riepma Ross Arts Center


New Studio Ghibli Short Film: Choju Giga

Just when you thought Studio Ghibli was out, they pull you back in.

Today, the studio unveiled the first of three planned animated short films for Marubeni Power. This campaign promotes Japan's "Plan G," a new electric power option that Marubeni Power is offering to homes as an alternative to nuclear power. Studio Ghibli, and especially Hayao Miyazaki, are strong opponents of nuclear ever since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that led to the Daiichi power crisis in 2011.

This film is based on Japan's oldest art scroll, Chōjū-Jinbutsu-Giga Emaki, or "Scrolls of Cartoons of Birds, Animals, and People." These scrolls are among Japan's most famous and influential artworks; Isao Takahata wrote a book about this very subject, 12th Century Animation, in 1999. Needless to say, I would love to score the US publishing rights for that book.

This first short will begin airing in Japan on April 1; two more are promised and will follow in short order. Longtime Ghibli veteran Katsuya Kondo directed and animated this piece. Pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii provided the music, and Toshio Suzuki provides his own voice at the very end.

The short film plays below. Enjoy:


Ghibli Blog 10th Anniversary March 29

March 29 marks the 10th Anniversary of this humble (and eternally half-completed) site. I'm notmsure if I'll do anything to mark the occasion. Probably a photo of a birthday cake or something. We'll see what we can do.

I would like to hear from my peers online. Most of the Ghibli fansites from a decade ago have disappeared; even the venerated Ghibli Wiki (a continuation of the ancient, yet ever-reliable, has been silent since last July. Generation Ghibli seems to be the most active site these days, and they have a very successful book to promote.

Anyway, just a heads-up on what's happening.


Geoffrey Wexler (Studio Ghibli Int'l) Talks About "Only Yesterday"

Geoffrey Wexler, Studio Ghibli's International Distribution Chief, recently wrote an open letter to the faithful fans eagerly awaiting the arrival of Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) in the United States.

You can read the letter here. It's a PDF file, so you can save it for later. I did try to copy the text so I could reprint here, but no luck. My new HP desktop wouldn't cooperate.  The moral lesson, of course: I should've bought a Dell.

Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) in US Theaters

The seemingly impossible has happened. Isao Takahata's 1991 masterpiece, Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday is the US title) is now playing in US theaters, courtesy of distributor GKIDS Films. Both Japanese language (with English subtitles) and all-new English language soundtracks will be shown. Be sure to check your local theaters for screenings.

The film opened in Minneapolis, MN this weekend, four screening of the dub and one show with subtitles. We watched the new dub, and if time and money permits, I'll go back again for the subtitles.

Here is the US poster, which is exactly the same as the Japanese original. It's very respectful, and for that, we should all be thankful. Studio Ghibli and GKIDS will release a Blu-Ray later this year, although details and specifics have yet to be announced. Expect the same level of quality seen in From Up on Poppy Hill and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Get Back to Work, Jetson!

Get back to work, Jetson!

To be fair, I've been working on plans for starting an indie publishing company this year, including writing and editing several manuscripts. Yes, one of my key projects will be a series of books (currently yet to be determined) about Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Also, I have a day job and family obligations and not very much time. Whatever.

I'll be sure to update everybody on my plans once we're ready to launch the website. This should happen this year. I hope.

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