Photos: Kiki's Delivery Service

Some screenshots of Kiki's Delivery Service on Blu-Ray. The picture quality is astoundingly good and a big upgrade over DVD, just like all of the Studio Ghibli movies. Colors just pop off the screen and flow with grace and style.

I always think of Kiki as a quiet film, much like My Neighbor Totoro, with its focus on personal growth and relationships. It's about the beginning of adolescence, the journey from childhood to adulthood, and the joys and turbulence that inevitably result. It is a time of discovery and wonder and new horizons, but also a time of loss. New connections are forged, but old connections are lost.

It's a great testament to Hayao Miyazaki's skills as a storyteller that this movie embraces all of these moods and contradictions, while maintaining a pastoral, almost nostalgic tone. There is no emotional manipulation or cheesy melodrama, no forced plot points or tired coming-of-age cliches. What we see is a character who is very relatable and honest. We can understand Kiki's journey because it reminds us of our own. We can relate.

To date, the only home video release to have proper English subtitles belongs on the Hayao Miyazaki Blu-Ray box set, which is becoming increasingly rare and expensive. If you're still on the fence whether to purchase one, you better do it now before Ebay requires you to send in a major organ as payment. Hopefully, GKids will use the correct subtitles (and not the ancient Streamline "dubtitles") for their upcoming BD/DVD reissue this fall. If they do so, I will gladly double-dip and grab another copy.

Mary and the Witch's Flower Promotional Guide

Here is an impressive promotional guide for the newly-released Mary and the Witch's Flower, the latest animated feature by Studio Ghibli alum Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Arrietty the Borrower, When Marnie Was There). The movie was released in Japan on July 8, where it launched to very positive box office returns. Let's cross our fingers and hope the public embraces this film, and ensures that the new Studio Ponoc will have a promising future.

Mary feels like a stylized mashup of Miyazaki movies, most obviously Kiki's Delivery Service, with nods and inspirations to several others. Yonebayashi clearly wishes to carry the mantle of his mentor, and he clearly has great talent and potential. He may become a great filmmaker if given the proper time and support.

Studio Ponoc is looking for international distribution, and I would be very shocked if Ghibli's distributors didn't jump onboard as quickly as possibly. Here in the USA, I would expect GKids Films to pick up the title for theatrical and home video releases next year. No official announcements have been made, but we all know the score. Hopefully they will also release a cool press booklet like this one.

Riffs: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Earnest Evans

Riffs: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Earnest Evans

Riffs: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Earnest Evans

Studio Ghibli movies have found their way into Japanese videogames over the years, in various riffs and cameos. One example is Wolf Team's 1991 Sega Genesis side-scrolling title Earnest Evans, which quotes the underground caverns from Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind in one of its stages. And is that an Ohmu in the right edge of the screen? I guess it might be.  I suppose I could play the game just to be sure, but, c'mon, Earnest Evans is terrible. "Emoji Movie" terrible.

That said, I always liked and respected Telenet's Wolf Team crew. They were one of the good video game studios of the 16-bit era, and they are well and truly missed. Nice Miyazaki riff, guys.

Ghibli Blog Comix: Totoro at the Bus Stop

It happens even to the best of us.


Studio Ghibli Calendar 1997

Here is a sampling of illustrations that belong to the 1997 Studio Ghibli Calendar, which has been a popular tradition in Japan for over two decades. Each of these are original works, but rendered in the style of the movies. It's like having a peek into their worlds, like unused or alternate takes. Many of these would appear on official home video releases on VHS, LaserDisc, DVD and Blu-Ray.

The Ghibli calendars are a great find for fans and collectors, and I'm a bit surprised that they aren't discussed more among the fan community. I remind myself that our fan community is still quite young, and many of us are still discovering these wonderful movies. In time, the dedicated Ghibli Freaks will become obsessive collectors of all the various forms of merchandise. I would definitely advise collecting these classic calendars if the opportunity arises.


Updates: Site Redesign, Zine Coming

As you can see, we're in the middle of redesigning the site, which means installing a new template and tweaking it so it's somewhat workable. The older design just became too glitchy and problematic, so I just had to make changes. For the time being, I'm switching over to one of Blogger's default themes, which are all uniformly terrible, because Blogger is terrible.

Please be patient with me, as I am aware this is making a big of a mess. Most of the important links don't seem to be working at the moment. I have another theme on my iMac at home, and we'll try to get it installed tonight. Once the DT Media website is finally up and running, I may just make the jump to WordPress for this site.

Also, I'm nearly finished with a new zine that will be given away to everyone who joins our mailing list. Problems with the HP Pavillion desktop forced me to buy a new computer, which set things back a bit, but fortunately for us, the zine pages being assembled on Scriber (a freeware desktop publishing program) have been preserved.

My goal is to have the mailing list and zine up and running by the end of this month. The zine will either be 44 or 48 pages, 8.5" by 5.5" size, and presented digitally in .pdf format. It contains essays and reviews from my upcoming books, including Zen Arcade, Pop Life and Greatest Hits/Conversations on Ghibli. It looks really good and if the response is positive, I may publish more issues on a regular basis. We'll see how it goes.

We're slowly making progress on all fronts. Please excuse the mess around here. As always, Ghibli Blog is active every day on Twitter and Facebook with original content.

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