Nausicaa Blu-Ray Screenshot Shootout - Japan, US, UK
(First photo: Japan -- Second photo: US -- Third photo: UK)
This has been a never-ending saga for me. I'm beginning to feel like RJ Fletcher from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The question: Is the US Nausicaa Blu-Ray identical to the Japanese Blu-Ray? My answers, over the course of this week, have migrated from No...to Yes....now it's Maybe, Maybe Not.
My first impression, after watching the American disc on my Sony CRT HDTV, was that the picture was smoother than the Japanese disc, and with less film grain. The difference isn't as stark as the overly smoothed-out UK disc, but a difference was definitely there. After several days of closely examining screenshots, my opinion wavered. I honestly couldn't find a noticeable distinction between the US and JP versions, and I was prepared to admit as such (I've got a long essay sitting half-finished as Draft). Then I found these screenshots from the official Nausicaa thread at Blu-Ray.com...and I am convinced once again that alien replicators walk among us. You're next! You're next!
I'll leave this for you to discuss and debate. The issue of 35mm film grain in the Ghibli BDs have certainly proven to be highly controversial. Many love it, many hate it. I'm sure this will factor in your decision on which Blu-Ray is best for you. How's that for a cheap cop-out? Did I mention that I once wrote for Gamepro?
I think one important piece of the puzzle are the video file sizes. JP Nausicaa is the largest, at 40gb. US Nausicaa is smaller, at 25gb; this is because Disney includes a couple extra features, high quality audio tracks, and the usual batch of trailers and commercials. Given that, I would expect the JP version to look slightly better, although I doubt it's a difference great enough to matter to most people. Reviews for the American Nausicaa have been overwhelmingly positive, so you should feel happy to include it in your movie library.
Oh, and for the record, the Optimum UK version is a wreck. The film grain is completely gone, and color has been corrected to a cooler color temperature. They did include the audio commentary which featured Hideaki Anno, and a 45-minute discussion between Anno and Toshio Suzuki, which are sorely missing from Disney's US version. But they tampered with Miyazaki's movie too much. No dice.
As for me? I'm going back to my original gut instinct. The JP Nausicaa looks better than the US Nausicaa. It's a slight difference, and it's largely based on my love of 35mm film grain. So that's just my perspective. This is like choosing your favorite pressing of your favorite record album. Most folks are smart enough to never care that much. Nausicaa looks fantastic, regardless. You'll love it and you'll have a great time sharing it with family and friends.