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2018-02-27

"How Princess Mononoke Was Born" on VHS

"How Princess Mononoke Was Born" on VHS

"How Princess Mononoke Was Born" on VHS

"How Princess Mononoke Was Born" on VHS

A decade ago (can hardly believe it's been that long), I posted a series of YouTube video episodes from the DVD documentary How Princess Mononoke Was Born. This television program originally aired on Japanese network NHK, which has had a very long and fruitful relationship with Hayao Miyazaki, going back to his 1978 series Future Boy Conan, which aired on the network.

Here are some cool screenshots from the VHS edition, containing the series on three tapes and encased in a stylish box. These sort of deluxe packages were common in the latter days of VHS, and have always remained prized collectors' items. Even if you can no longer play videotapes, it's nice to have these sitting on your shelf, filling out your prized Ghibli fan collection.

Unfortunately, this documentary has never been released outside of Japan. It's very unfortunate, because this terrific program deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. Thankfully for fans, an English translation of the Japanese language arrived from the fan underground, and video episodes soon appeared on YouTube for all to enjoy. These were the videos that I shared on Ghibli Blog in 2008 (parts one, two, and three).

Just recently, a Ghibli Blog follower sent me an email about this series. He informed me that the woman who was responsible for the English subtitles was stricken by illness, and she was unable to complete her translation project. This is why the YouTube videos were never fully completed.

More tragedy: recently, Studio Ghibl had all of these Mononoke documentary videos removed from YouTube on copyright grounds. I have never understood the reasoning behind this strategy. It's perfectly understandable to protect your rights when your movies are easily available on store shelves and online retailers. It's quite another thing when said programs are unavailable anywhere. We would love to buy this series on DVD or Blu-Ray. We would gladly pay money for a separate release, or a reissue of Princess Mononoke with the documentary as a bonus feature. Simply taking your ball and going home accomplishes nothing.

Let us hope that Studio Ghibli will indeed release this great program on our shores. It goes into the production of their landmark blockbuster movie in exquisite detail, from conception to completion. You follow Miyazaki on the long and difficult journey to create what was, then, his most ambitious film project. Had the movie failed at the box office, he would have been ruined. Instead, it became Japan's all-time box office champion, bring fame, fortune and international acclaim to the director and his studio.

The next time you purchase the latest Blu-Ray from GKIDS, send them a nice letter asking them to release this title as well. Send them a photo of a twenty-dollar bill and scribble the words, "This can all be yours."

Until then, why not add this VHS box set to your collection? I found it on Ebay fairly easily. All true Ghibl Freaks should have at least one or two videotapes to show off.

2 comments:

JFL said...

just found them on dailymotion if you need to re-download them, etc. Maybe better not to publish my comment, or maybe not. I don't know, I let you decide :)
thank you for your blog.

Jonathan Walmsley said...

I managed to watch this documentary twice from those old links of yours several years ago now, and I thought it was one of the best 'making of' docs I've ever seen! It's very disappointing how hard it is to find it online now - I agree, I would gladly pay actual money for an official, high-quality, subtitled release and it baffles me why this piece of filmmaking history remains in obscurity outside of Japan.

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