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2010-06-14

Arrietty - Here is the New Trailer!



Beyond, one of our devoted readers and Ghibli Freaks, posted the following message on one of the comment threads.  I'll reprint it here in its entirety, so you can enjoy the dialog in the new Arrietty trailer.  Bon appetit!

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I'm sorry to write many times. This is best clip of the second trailer on Youtube. More clearer and you can see the other voice cast recording. The first clip I recomend you was aired at 6:40 am. This clip was aired at 7:40.

The content of voice recording is different, too. In the firast clip. Sho says to Arrietty "Do you have a name?", and Arrietty says "Of corse, I'm Arrietty."

But in this clip, Sho says: Wait, Please do not go.

Arrietty: Do not pay attention to us anymore. I came to say only it. I want to have a talk with you.

Homily: Arrietty, Did you go outside again? You should clean a little more.

Sadako: My father said he saw a little people in this house. So he had waited all the time.

Spiller: I go. I have this. Eat? Tasty. (He speaks haltingly.)

Pod: My investigation was not enough. I let you feel scary. You must not talk to mother.

Haru: In fact, there is a little people. I saw it.

Because I'm not good at English, please revise and interpret these character's talk by yourself.

According to Arritty bloger Nishioka, when the recording of the last scene was performed, the staff member were filled with tears in a small room behind the voice cast. This last scene seems so wonderful.

By the way, Shinobu Otake (Homily) and Kirin Kiki (Haru) won the best Actress in a Leading Role Award of the Japanese Academy Award, Keiko Takeshita (Sadako) won the Excellent Actress in a Supporting Role Award, Tomokazu Miura (Pod) won the Excellent Actor in a Supporting Role Award.

2010-06-05

Anne of Green Gables Trailer



Here is the trailer for Ghibli Museum Library's presentation of Anne of Green Gables.  It is scheduled for release on the same day as Arrietty, July 17.  The first six episodes of the series were edited into a feature-length format by Isao Takahata himself, marking his first official involvement in a Ghibli film project since Winter Days in 2003.

If I didn't know better, I'd say Ghibli was prepping the public for Takahata's long-awaited return to the cinema.  It has been over a decade since My Neighbors the Yamadas, after all.  At least, I hope this is what it means.

Poster - Puss in Boots (Spain)


I would love to get my hands on this poster. I think this even may be better than Toei's Japanese poster. Here is Spain's contribution to our poster series.

Tragically, I lost my DVD on my December flight into Bogota, Colombia, and I've been without a copy of Puss in Boots of Animal Treasure Island ever since. Augh! These are two of my all-time favorite animation movies. Obviously, every Miyazaki fan has bought their copy....right?

It would help if Discotek would send more copies to retailers. And it would really help if Toei would finally give their classic animated features the proper respect they deserve. When the heck are we getting these movies on Blu-Ray? A single-layer disc from the year 2000 just doesn't cut it, guys.

Poster - Lupin III Series One (Ghibli Museum Library)


This is the official poster for the movie release of Lupin III Series One in 2009 for the Ghibli Museum Library.  This isn't a full-length movie, but three episodes of the original 1971-72 television series.

The three episodes shown are from the later Takahata-Miyazaki episodes, when they were brought in by A Productions after its earlier, grittier episodes directed by Osumi Masaki, which were met with low ratings.  Ordered to change the tone of the show, and compelled to bring their own stamp on the series, Takahata and Miyazaki introduced tighter scripts, more integrated characters, and more overt slapstick comedy and less (read: no) sex.

After two seasons and 23 episodes, Lupin III was cancelled for lack of ratings, a situation every Star Trek fan can relate to.  But don't worry, say the Trekkies.  The fans will pass along the tapes and the popularity will grow and grow.  And it did.  Lupin III is now one of the most popular and iconic characters in anime.

(Oh, btw, Lupin III Series One is now available on Blu-Ray in Japan.  Can we bring in the fansub community on this one?  We already have subtitles for the DVD version, so it shouldn't be too difficult.  Of course, it would be even better if I could just buy this in a store...hint, hint!  Fat chance on that happening.)

Poster - Panda Kopanda (Ghibli Museum Library)


This is the 2008 movie poster for Panda Kopanda, as part of the Ghibli Museum Library series. This is Ghibli's showcase for international animation that is beloved by the studio, especially the founding directors. In addition to other's works, Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki's earlier films are included. Panda Kopanda was the first, followed by Lupin III: Series One in 2009. Anne of Green Gables is the newest inclusion, and will be released on July 17, 2010.

These films are given a very limited release - a single theatre screen, in fact. DVD and Blu-Ray releases soon follow, except for Lupin III, which is available in Japan on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Panda Kopanda was once available in the US by Pioneer under the title, "Panda Go Panda." The DVD has been out of print for a number of years, and there doesn't seem to be much interest in bringing it back. Not sexy or violent or modern enough for today's anime crowd, I suppose. Sigh. Here is another no-brainer for Disney and Pixar.

I really dig this poster. It's taken from Miyazaki's original layout drawings for the movie, which were, in turn, based heavily on the doomed Pipi Longstockings project.

2010-06-04

The Worst Television Show Ever Made


Just sayin'.  The Rifftrax (Mystery Science Theater 3000) version is absolutely priceless, especially with the riffing over the painfully dated 1978 commercials.  And, yeah, I can remember most of 'em.

In the spirit of Spaceballs, here's a "short, short" review of The Star Wars Holiday Special: It's worse than Jar-Jar Binks.  Good, yer married, kiss her!

$16 For a Damned Movie Ticket?!

Is Hollywood trying to go out of business?  It's so completely astonishing to see them make the exact same mistakes as the music industry did a decade ago.  Look where the $20 CD and battling Napster got them.

And we're not talking about spending a ridiculous premium for the 3-D glasses.  This is $16 for a regular movie ticket.  It's absolutely suicidal from my vantage point, but my hair is turning silver and I still enjoy the unmatched joy of sharing a really great movie with a roomful of strangers.

Maybe the suits have decided that DVD and iPods are easier.  And so they price the theater chains out of business, like wealthy gamblers bidding you out of the poker game.  But that would be a disastrous move.  Just you wait until technology enables us to download hi-res movies at the same speed we now download CDs.

Hollywood, Big Oil, Wall Street, Global Warming...Don't you get the feeling that the Captains of Industry have collectively lost their minds?  Very strange.  Anyway, that's my short rap.

Ghibli Museum Short Films - Mei and the Kittenbus (2003)


Behold, the most beloved Miyazaki anime that you will never see. This is Mei and the Kittenbus, created in 2003 exclusively for the Ghibli Museum. I think it's safe to say this is by far the most popular and beloved of all the Museum's short films.

Mei and the Kittenbus runs 15 minutes, and pairs younger sister Mei (voiced by the original actress, Sakamoto Chinatsu) with a pint-sized Kitten Bus, as they run and fly around the house and surrounding woods. Totoro, naturally, appears once again, but this time he is joined by massive crowds of fellow Totoros, and Cat Buses of all sizes and stripes. The biggest surprise is the arrival of a giant, old Catbus, carrying dozens of Totoros. Hayao Miyazaki himself provides the voice.

This film, like all of the other Ghibli Museum short films, is not available outside of Japan. Miyazaki intends these movies solely for the children of the Museum, free from consumer capitalism and commercialism. Fortunately, it is screened regularly, including this summer, so if you are planning a trip to Japan to see Arrietty, be sure to make your pilgrimmage. Fortunately, for the rest of us, Ghibli does sell art books of all their shorts, which means we can enjoy Mei and the Kittenbus from a distance.

2010-06-03

Arrietty Finishes Production - In Theatres July 17



Studio Ghibli finished production of Karigurash no Arrietty (The Borrowers) on May 29, according to the official website.  Voice recording is complete, and sound production should be finished by the end of June.

The final Arrietty trailer will be released this month, and the movie will be released in Japanese theatres on July 17.  There is currently no word on an American release.

2010-06-01

A Look at Miyazaki's "Pig House" - The Nibariki Office


In 1998, Hayao Miyazaki designed and built a house for his production company, Nibariki.  This house is located nearby Studio Ghibli's main building

Of course, you can tell that Miyazaki designed this house.  Its architecture is very similar to the Ghibli Museum and the Ghibli studio itself, which he also designed.  In addition to these buildings, he also designed Ghibli's new nursery and the NTV Grand Clock.  All that hard work as layout artist in the 1970s paid off!

Seriously dedicated Ghibli Freaks will recognize the main area, as this has been used for interviews for television and DVD.

Outside the house, you'll immediately recognize the car, and it's not there by accident.  The car in question is a Citroen 2CV - seen in the spectacular car chase from Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro.  "Nibariki" - "two horsepower" - is a direct reference to this car, a favorite of Miyazaki's in his younger days.  I always enjoy sly tributes such as this.

Another sly insight - the house is called "buta-ya," or Pig House.  What else would Miyazaki call this place?  These is also some debate whether this was conceived as his "retirement" home, but since it's impossible for the famous workaholic to ever stand still, such an idea seems unlikely.  But it's common for the director to feel complete burnout at the end of a production.  Miyazaki has been threatening to quit for decades.

One final note about the production company's name.  "Nibariki" means "two horsepower," but it can also mean "double-income family."  Indeed, the company is managed by Miyazaki and his wife, Akemi Ota - so says the experienced blogger from Whisper From Totoro.  Make of that what you will.

You can see more photos on the Japanese website here.


Studio Ghibli Book List 2010


Early this year, Ghibli published a comprehensive volume called, plainly, Studio Ghibli Book List.  It's a listing of every book published in relation to Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata's long careers.  Included are art books, film comics, and manga.  This yearly volume includes the vast catalog of works published before Ghibli's founding; it appears that, slowly but surely, the entire works of the old masters are being brought into the fold.  It would not be surprising to one day hear the word "Ghibli" as a rough slang for the entire Takahata/Miyazaki canon.

I'm still looking around for a site where I can buy a copy.  This is a very small book - 9cm x 7xm x 4cm.  If a publisher (such as Viz) ever brought this book to the West, they would definitely have to increase the size.  As you can see, the original artwork is included, with a short description.  This is a fantastic tool for the diehard fans and collectors.  I could see myself going through everything with a highlighter pen, as I track down the final missing elements of the canon.

These photos come from the excellent Japanese blog, Whispers From Totoro.  It's my new favorite Ghibli-themed website.  And I urge all of you to quickly bookmark and scour through the archives.

Nausicaa Blu-Ray - First Screenshots and Box Art


(Thanks to AV Watch in Japan for their coverage of the Ghibli press conference.)

I wouldn't be fair if I didn't play the hype game once in a while. Here are the first screenshots from the upcoming Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind Blu-Ray. The menus look fantastic, minimal and stylish. This is a movie that knows it has an audience and never needs to impress. It's an anime masterpiece and arguably the most important film of Hayao Miyazaki's career.

The Blu-Ray package is just fantastic. Notice that it's presented in cardboard, not plastic. I do hope all of Ghibli's future home releases follow this format. A book is included, the Nausicaa Guide Book. That should be an interesting read.

I'm also happy to learn that the terrific audio commentary track from the Nausicaa DVD - the only one on a Studio Ghibli disc to date - will be included on the Blu-Ray. I really wish someone would translate that. Is anyone at Disney reading this blog? Hello? Bueller?? I want this for Christmas!

The Nausicaa BD will be released in Japan on July 14. This is proving to be a very busy summer for the studio.

Nissan Japan Spoof - "Fuel Effecient Heidi"





This is definitely one of the goofier finds from my regular scouring of the Youtubes. In 2009, Nissan promoted their line of fuel-efficient cars by spoofing perennial Japanese anime favorite - Heidi, Girl of the Alps.

Nissan's Heidi spoof is rendered in chunky 3D graphics, almost something you'd expect to find on a Nintendo 64. The tv spots are pretty short, while the website features longer "episodes," where perky Heidi irritates the hell out of everyone by relentlessly barking out the same question, "What is fuel efficiency?"

Trust me on this - Heidi isn't nearly as annoying on the original show as she is in these ads. Maybe that's just the way she rubbed off to the hipsters in Japan. Considering that they grew up watching this series, to say nothing of its immense popularity and influence, it would make sense for the hipsters to give it the Family Guy treatment. Hmm....come to think of it, just when is Family Guy going to spoof Heidi? Do I have to send Seth MacFarlane my DVD box set? 'Cause I will.

You can visit Nissan Japan's website and watch all the Heidi material that's available.

Video - Nisshin Seifun - Goro Miyazaki's Cat Commercial



Did I show this before?  I forget.  I can't tell you how much fun I'm going to become once senility kicks in.  In any case, enjoy Goro Moyazaki's latest directorial short, with animation by Katsuya Kondo.  May Ghibli long champion hand-drawn animation.  To hell with all the CGI junk.

3000 Leagues in Search of Mother - Lobby Card


 This is an item that is currently available for sale on Ebay.  It's a lobby card for a theatrical release of 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, Isao Takahata's 1976 World Masterpiece Theatre production.  This was actually a condensed version of the television series - a highlight reel, essentially.  Similar theatrical adaptations were used for other anime series, including 1974's Heidi, Girl of the Alps.  This lobby card, in particular, was for a release in Mexico - hence the international title, "Marco."

This is of interest to us today, because Studio Ghibli is bringing 1979's Anne of Green Gables in a similar fashion - adapted and assembled by Isao Takahata himself.  It's very interesting to note that neither Takahata, nor Hayao Miyazaki or Yoichi Kotabe, the other key creators, were involved in the "movie" versions of Heidi and Marco.  And they were openly critical and disdainful of them.  Such a short collection of scenes could never substitute for the epic weight and melodrama that required 52 episodes to tell.

Why is this different for Anne in 2010?  That's a very good question, and it's left me puzzled for a long time.  But I have a couple theories, which I'll have to share at a better time.

As for Marco, I've never found a copy of the "theatre" version, but a full-length movie adaptation was produced in 1999.  It was very faithful to Takahata's original masterpiece, but as you would expect, it had to rush through everything as quickly as possible, losing so much of the drama in the process.  As a tribute, it was nice.  But it was very clearly inferior to the series.  Perhaps this is why Anne of Green Gables 2010 will only cover that series' first four episodes?

I will close by stating, once again, that it is my firm conviction that Heidi-Marco-Anne remain Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki's masterpieces.  Studio Ghibli movies are like perfectly contained short stories.  But these are the epic novels.

Tales From Earthsea Coming to US Theatres - August 13



This is welcome news for Studio Ghibli fans.  Tales From Earthsea (Gedo Senki) will be released on theatres in the US on August 13.  Disney will distribute the film under the Touchstone label; make of that what you will.  Personally, I'm just happy to see another Japanese anime film, and a Ghibli film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki, at that, shown on American screens.

There has been speculation for a long time that Goro Miyazaki's 2006 directorial debut would be released on the big screen, even if only as a limited release.  It's good to see those plans properly followed through.  This does suggest that Disney is testing the waters; can the public be persuaded to buy tickets for the Ghibli name, and not the name of Hayao Miyazaki?  True, the son is the director, so they will still be able to sell on the family name, but it does suggest a willingness to nurture the relationship between the two companies.

Disney must prepare for a post-Miyazaki world, just as Ghibli must do in Japan.  Goro-san's Earthsea movie is that first crucial step.  Fortunately, as disappointing the movie proved to fans - Ghibli and Ursula LeGuin alike - I don't think the general public knows about that.  They almost certainly know nothing about the Miyazaki family drama, which flared up rather notoriously during the film's production, and whose fingerprints are all over the picture.  It also helps that most Americans have no idea how badly Goro shamelessly steals from his father.

It was Goro's open theft - his stealing is a virtual highlight reel of his father's career - as well as his airing the family's dirty laundry in public, that soured him to the Japanese public.  It certainly soured him on me, and that's mostly why I don't care for Gedo Senki.  Perhaps when I see it at the local indie theatre this August, my mood will be brighter.  I will try to be more forgiving and patient.

In any case, I will be attending, and so will all of you.  I want to see more Studio Ghibli at the multiplex.  I would love to see The Borrowers on our screens next summer, and I would kill to see Isao Takahata create one more movie.  I'm sure you'll agree.  I haven't changed my opinion that Earthsea is Ghibli's weakest film, but it's so easy to forget that it's a first film.  You still have to pay your dues to make it as an artist, even if your father is world famous.  Let's be hopeful and wish for the best.