Now here's a cool collector's item for anime and Hayao Miyazaki fans: the 1983 soundtrack LP for Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro. This LP was released on the Colombia label in Japan, and includes excellent cover and insert artwork. I especially like the front and back cover, which emphasizes the themes of romance and Lupin's conflicted emotions...who is the rescuing hero, and who is the imprisoned?
This is a really nice collector's item. It also helps that Castle of Cagliostro has some really good music, very fitting for a late-1970s picture. It could be used on an episode of Charlie's Angels. The title song is especially nice, fitting in that James Bond style of espionage, intrigue and romance. I could see myself spinning this record from time to time; I'd certainly be making mix tapes, that's for sure.
This soundtrack LP, and many others, are commonly available on Ebay for $30, give or take. If you're looking to add to your Miyazaki collection, here's an excellent choice.
Continuing our topic of discussion from the previous post, here is a video comparison of two US soundtrack dubs for Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro. The first part is the Carl Masek Streamline dub, which appeared on home video in 1991. The second part is from the 2000 Manga dub, which appeared on DVD.
Diehard anime fans will cringe at the thought of any dub; the original Japanese-language soundtrack with English subtitles are the only "accurate" way to view these films and TV programs. I can appreciate their passion, and have often agreed with them. But I also enjoy a lot of dubbed anime, and respect Masek's insistence on spreading the gospel of anime to a wider, mainstream audience. And as all movie buffs know, most folks are not interested in subtitles - especially cartoons.
Fortunately, modern DVD and Blu-Ray formats enable multiple soundtracks, which means everyone is happy. And isn't that what matters the most? When I'm watching a Studio Ghibli film, it's almost always in Japanese-with-subtitles, but most of my family prefers the English-language dubs. And a lot of those dubs are quite excellent.
Comparing these two videos, I am impressed by the skill and grace of the 1991 Streamline recordings. The voice actors are casually authentic, colored but not too "cartoonish," and quite enjoyable. It could work as a radio drama. The 2000 Manga recordings are far more "accurate" to the Japanese script; it tries to capture the notes as perfectly as possible, whereas Masek played more loosely but aimed for feeling. But the Manga dub sounds stiff, the dialog doesn't read as easily, the voice actors are less convincing and more amateurish.
For the record, I think nothing beats the original Japanese voice cast when it comes to Lupin III. Yasuo Yamada will always be THE voice of Lupin in my book. But it's fun to hear other actors take their stab at the role.
I wanted to find clips from the old Streamline releases of Hayao Miyazaki's films, and came across this little gem. This is a 1993 television commercial for My Neighbor Totoro's first appearance in US theaters, courtesy of Streamline Pictures. Carl Masek, the legendary producer and director who is, arguably, the individual most responsible for spreading the gospel of anime to America.
To this day, there are American Totoro fans who prefer the older Streamline dub over the 2006 Disney release. I can appreciate their enthusiasm. Carl Masek had a keen understanding of how to translate foreign anime films to our domestic audience, and his actors had a natural, casual tone that felt genuine. And he was an early champion of Miyazaki, localizing and releasing Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro, Tales of the Wolf (the two Miyazaki-directed episodes of Lupin Series Two), Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service.
Anyway, here's a fascinating little time capsule for everyone to enjoy. I have to say, I really do enjoy the old VHS color bleeding. There's a special nostalgic appeal to my generation: like 1980s hip-hop and thrash, '80s anime just feels better when it's on tape. You kids today with your newfangled, dadgum Blu-Ray discs won't understand.
Anne of Green Gables (Akage no An), the 1979 World Masterpiece Theater series directed by Isao Takahata, is arriving in a spectacular Blu-Ray box set on March 26 in Japan. The entire 50-episode series will run across eight discs, and a wealth of extras include storyboards and background artwork. The box comes with two thick booklets and some spectacular artwork. Like the Heidi, Girl of the Alps Blu-Ray, this is a must-have for all animation lovers.
Two unfortunate downsides for Western fans: One, there are no English subtitles, an odd decision, given that fan translations have existed for years. Two, the retail price is 31,080 Yen, or just over $300 USD. Ouch!! Somebody will have to explain to me why these DVD and BD box sets are so outrageously expensive in that country.
I have argued for many years that the three 1970s television dramas - Heidi, Girl of the Alps; 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother (aka Marco); Anne of Green Gables - are the true masterpieces by Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki. Yoichi Kotabe (Heidi, Marco) and Yoshifumi Kondo (Anne) were also equal contributors, and they should be remembered as such. If you've watched all the Studio Ghibli feature films and are feeling bummed because there's nothing left to watch - you haven't seen anything yet. You're just getting started.
In a perfect world, Heidi-Marco-Anne would all see Blu-Ray releases in the West; unfortunately, the high costs of localization and production of new soundtracks are too high for all but the largest media companies. And what are the odds that Disney would want one of these series? Even these cherished childrens programs are too intense, too emotionally pure and honest, for the Disney Ken-and-Barbie Doll factory. Oh, well, maybe that could change someday.
Still don't believe that Hayao Miyazaki is retiring from directing feature films? Now it's Toshio Suzuki's turn to retire as Studio Ghibli's producer. 36-year-old Yoshiaki Nishimura, who served as the producer on Isao Takahata's Tale of Princess Kaguya, will succeed as studio producer for all future film projects. Suzuki will continue at Studio Ghibli under the new title, "General Manager."
Presumably, Suzuki-san's role will be to manage the transition to Studio Ghibli's new generation, as they continue forward with new directors like Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Goro Miyazaki, and behind-the-scenes figures like company producer Nishimura and president Koji Hoshino (the former president of Walt Disney Japan*). His role will become one of guidance rather than direct influence.
Suzuki-san has always been the quiet force behind Studio Ghibli, and is responsible for so many of the directions and decisions taken by the studio over the years. He has an uncanny ability to influence and persuade Miyazaki, going back to his days as editor of Animage Magazine. It was Suzuki who championed the artist's directorial works like Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro, who persuaded him to publish his serial comic, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, to open a new animation studio with longtime collaborator Takahata. Toshio Suzuki was the driving force behind the studio for years; Ghibli as we know it today would never have existed without him.
It's the end of an era, kids. Now would be a good time for all the fence-sitters and so-called Ghibli fans to head to their nearest theater and see The Wind Rising. No more procrastinating. This is your last crack of the bat, your last present from Santa Claus, so you better appreciate it while you can.
*Yes, we all remember last year's April Fools Day prank, when I fake "announced" that Disney had bought out Studio Ghibli after its founders retired. This sound quite so far-fetched now, does it? I can imagine scenarios where that actually happens.
Viz Media announced this week that, in addition to publishing Hayao Miyazaki's 1980 Mononoke Hime (based on a series of image boards for an unrealized animation project), they will be publishing "The Art of Princess Mononoke," as part of the continuing Studio Ghibli art book series. The book will arrive in bookstores this October.
This release will officially replace the long out-of-print edition published by Miramax, "Princess Mononoke: The Art and Making of Japan's Most Popular Film of All Time." That book was also based on Ghibli's official art book. I haven't seen that edition in many years, so I cannot remember if there were any exclusive pages or essays that won't appear in Viz Media's edition. We'll just have to wait and see.
And now for the larger question: Does the publication of two Mononoke Hime-themed books mean Disney is planning to release the Blu-Ray edition of the film? It was released in Japan just in time for Christmas last year (along with The Cat Returns the Favor/Ghiblies Episode 2), and should be arriving around the world in due course. Unfortunately, as we all know, the relationship between Studio Ghibli and Disney over this film was rocky and contentious. It's never a good sign when the studio boss wakes up to find a loaded weapon in his mailbox.
When Miramax split from Disney, they took Princess Mononoke with them, as they were the official distributor in the US. It appeared the rights would be lost in legal limbo; fortunately, Disney quietly reacquired those rights a couple years ago, and reissued the DVD, with the blue-and-gold label. This was done with almost no fanfare, and, probably don't even know this release even exists. Heck, I didn't know about it until I saw a copy at Barnes & Noble's last year.
When Disney signed a distribution deal with Studio Ghibli, they were interested in Hayao Miyazaki's children's movies like My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service. The last thing they ever expected from the Japanese filmmaker was a bloody and brutally violent Ford-Kurosawa epic. In a society where animation exists almost solely as "the electric babysitter," Princess Mononoke came as a shock, and relations between the two parties were notably damaged, until Pixar's John Lasseter came to the rescue in 2002.
On the Blu-Ray front, Disney in the US has fallen so far behind Japan and the rest of the world, I've all but given up hope. They have little interest in selling movies that don't sell in this country, especially when Disney holds no merchandising or character rights ("where the real money from the movie is made.") And the box office returns for The Wind Rises are absolutely dreadful. And so there is very little demand, or interest, by either Disney or the general public.
The two new Mononoke books give hope that we'll see the Blu-Ray on our shores. On that topic, I'll move the dial from "Never in a Million Years" to "Maybe." For our side, I'll count that as a win.
More Good News, Everyone! This week, Ghibli Blog has surpassed 2.6 million pageviews since record-keeping began in May, 2007 (the site began in March 2006, in case you're curious). This is an excellent milestone, and I want to thank our faithful followers around the world, and hope for your continued support in the future.
Ghibli Blog remains a one-man operation; I handle all the writing, layout and art design myself, and it's a lot of hard work. If you enjoy all my hard work, and all the content this website provides, please support us with a donation. The PayPal "Donate" button is always on the upper-right corner of the page. Thank you very much, Domo arigatou, Muchas gracias.
Good News, Everyone! Viz Media will publish Hayao Miyazaki's Mononoke Hime picture book this October in the USA. Retail price will be $34.95.
The original Mononoke Hime began as a film project in 1980. Miyazaki created a complete set of image boards, rendered in pencil and watercolor, and sought out producers to finance the project. He was unsuccessful in this quest. He eventually published the image boards and story in his 1983 art book, Hayao Miyazaki Image Boards. In 1993, Mononoke Hime was published as a stand-alone picture book, and this is the version that Viz will be publishing in the States.
This period of Miyazaki's career - late 1970s to early 1980s - is very interesting. It's a time of setback and struggle; the glory days of Toei Doga, of Heidi and Marco, his collaborations with Isao Takahata, are fading in the distant past. His own attempts to establish himself as a sole director in his own right - 1978's Future Boy Conan, 1979's Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro, 1981's Sherlock Hound (Famous Detective Holmes) - were met with failure on the small screen, the big screen, and behind the scenes. Despite the excellence of his work, the peak of his cliffhanger serial period, the director could not find an audience willing to accept him. And so a number of film projects, including Mononoke Hime and My Neighbor Totoro, languished for lack of interest and lack of funds. By 1982, it appeared that his anime career was all but finished.
One could see his return to manga comics, with the monthly serial Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind in 1982, the graphic novel The Journey of Shuna in 1983, the publication of his Image Boards book the same year, as Hayao Miyazaki's farewell to animation, a return to his earlier passion, comics. Others could see this period as a regrouping, of healing wounds and plotting the comeback, a period of evolution. When Miyazaki was given the chance to direct the Nausicaa anime film in 1983/84, the heroic optimism of his youth had burned away, and what emerged was darker, and more emotionally complex, and with a new sadness underneath the surface. Hayao Miyazaki, the Personal Filmmaker, was .
For our interests, the 1980 Mononoke is a fascinating look into the younger Miyazaki of the 1970s, whose stories were clean and direct. This is a children's fairy tale far removed from the emotionally wrenching 1997 John Ford-Kurosawa epic. It's fun and amusing and entertaining, and it doesn't aim to be anything else. It's fascinating to imagine how Miyazaki and his animators could have realized these image boards. The giant cat, of course, reminds us of Totoro, and I think that's why this storybook is popular with fans. I expect this book to become a hit when it reaches bookstores in October; it's closer to what Miyazaki fans actually want, instead of a confessional melodrama like The Wind Rises.
And now a personal note. I posted the complete set of the 1980 Mononoke image boards, which were translated into English. After a few years, it was finally discovered by the internet and spread like wildfire. To this day, this is the most popular post in the history of Ghibli Blog. I am very humbled and thankful to have played a role in spreading awareness of this, and many other, works from the careers of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
It has always been my dream that these films, comics and books would be released in the US. And now that Mononoke Hime is being published, I will soon delete the comic from that post, so as not to hurt Viz Media's book sales. The role of this website is to preserve history and build a community, not steal or exploit. I urge everyone to purchase this book when it is released, and support those who invest time and money on these projects. Show your support with your dollars and help to build this community.
What are my thoughts on Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises? A jumble of conflicting thoughts and feelings. Powerful. Inspiring. Masterpiece. Verklempt. I have viewed this movie twice, in Japanese and US soundtracks, and on both occasions was overwhelmed. This is a beautiful, deeply haunting film; its heaviness grips my heart and mind, the images soar and sing. There is so much to absorb that you need time to process it all.
The Wind Rises is not a fast or frenetic film; it has a patience and speed that contrasts greatly with the action-adventure serials that defined Miyazaki's youth. But this movie is emotionally overpowering; its images have a sweeping grandeur, like the great surrealist and expressionist painters. Its mood is one of reflection, observation, sadness. It's final message - "The wind is rising, We must live! - is not a message of optimism, but perseverance. It is a celebration of the imagination and the redemptive power of art.
Officially, The Wind Rises is an historical biography, adapted from a fictional memoir about the life of Japanese airplane engineer and designer Jiro Horikoshi, which was then adapted by Hayao Miyazaki into a 2009 graphic novel. The movie tells the tale of Horikoshi's life in the early 20th Century, witnessing the Great Kanto Earthquake and two World Wars, and his haunted dreams of creating wonderful flying machines. That's the "official" explanation; but I also see a parallel story that is deeply auto-biographical: Hayao Miyazaki's own life, his childhood, his passions and dreams. Everything is presented with a surreal Fellini flair; characters, moments and histories play out like Jungian archetypes. The Wind Rises plays like a series of extended lucid dreams in the director's own mind.
There are times when I am watching the young Jiro Horikoshi, and I am convinced that I am seeing Miyazaki as a child, frustrated by his eyesight and dreaming of airplanes. At other moments, Miyazaki's voice inhabits that of Marconi, the Italian airplane engineer who serves as spirit guide and Greek Chorus. At yet other moments, it is the Mitsubishi boss Kurokawa who emerges as Miyazaki, the stern and demanding Ghibli studio boss. Miyazaki the Elder dispenses wisdom to Miyazaki the Younger, guiding and warning in equal measure.
In one scene, Kurokawa informs Jiro that he has won the job of designing an experimental aircraft. Yuri replies that he wants his childhood friend, and fellow engineer, on the project. Kurokawa flatly refuses with a telling lesson: Never work on projects with your friends; you'll only become rivals. It is impossible for me not to think of Hayao Miyazaki's long partnership with director Isao Takahata, which began at the Toei Doga studio and ended at Studio Ghibli. Theirs is very much like a McCartney-Lennon relationship, before and after the Beatles breakup.
The twin biographies of Horikoshi and Miyazaki flow and intertwine. Miyazaki obsessed about airplanes practically since his birth. Giovanni Caproni was a childhood hero; indeed, "Ghibli" was named after one of his airplanes. As a professional animator, he and his peers struggled with a sense of inadequacy, of being "20 years behind," of needing to learn the craft the rest of the world mastered. They yearned for the respect of the world, which looked down upon them as primitive. Could this have been a driving force that led to the creation of The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun in 1968? Perhaps. And let us not forget that the young Miyazaki, on his first European trip, met author Astrid Lindgren in hopes of collaborating on the Pipi Longstockings anime. The project was cooly rejected, dismissed. This parallels the cold reception received by Horikoshi and his fellow Japanese designers on their encounter with Germany's modern, technologically advanced airplanes.
And, of course, the film's heroine Naoko serves as a parallel for Miyazaki's eternal romantic muse, his wife Akemi Ota. She was also the inspiration for the heroines in Sherlock Hound, Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo; once again, there is tension between her art and his career, but this time tempered by a personal tragedy that parallels Jiro's professional tragedy. He is doomed to lose everything and everyone he holds dear. He is destined to walk among the gravestones of his dreams.
(continued after the jump)
I know what you're thinking: didn't Hayao Miyazaki say he was retiring? Well, yes and no. He announced his retirement from directing feature films, and The Wind Rises is his final epic masterpiece. But on his other great passion - manga comics - he remains as active as ever. Hid idea of "retirement" is basically your idea of a "coffee break."
Last November, Japanese network NHK, which has a very long history with Studio Ghibli, showcased Miyazaki on their "Professional" series. The televised episode showed the studio in the final stages of production for The Wind Rises, which was released in Japan last summer to great acclaim and enormous box office returns.
The program also teased out these first glimpses of Miyazaki's newest venture, a Sengoku-era Samurai-manga comic. This newest serial will appear in the pages of Model Graphix Magazine, home to many of his comics over the years. The first chapter will run eight pages; the total length is still undetermined. Of course, it's just as likely that Miyazaki himself doesn't know. It might last a couple episodes, or it might run all year.
It's common for Miyazaki to work on comics after completing a movie. It's a good stress release, and allows him greater freedom to pursue smaller subjects or indulge in personal obsessions like airplanes. Naturally. And it's always great to see the 73-year-old artist continue to work exclusively with paper, pen and paints. This is also how he creates image boards and storyboards for animation film projects. Take that, computers!
It's always conceivable that Miyazaki's samurai manga could be adapted to animation - Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Porco Rosso and The Wind Rises were all derived from Hayao Miyazaki comics. So I would never completely rule that out. But I believe the director when he says that he has retired from directing feature films; The Wind Rises is a farewell movie, an Abbey Road movie. If an anime film production evolves from this comic, it's far more likely to be helmed by one of Studio Ghibli's younger directors...perhaps son Goro Miyazaki?
We're already getting ahead of ourselves. For now, let Father Miyazaki work on his new project while we send our subscription money to Model Graphix ASAP.
I wanted to share these two videos from Japanese TV, featuring lengthy interviews with Hayao Miyazaki and Hideaki Anno on The Wind Rises, which is now playing in US theaters. Thanks to some dutiful fan translations, English subtitles are included on these videos. Simply click the "CC" button to turn them on.
Hideaki Anno, best known as the mastermind behind Neon Genesis Evangelion, was given the lead vocal role in The Wind Rises. His relationship with Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli stretch back to the 1984 Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, and continues to this day. Anno has collaborated with the Ghibli on a couple short films, and the studio supported him on one or two of his live-action films.
I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll let these videos speak for themselves.
Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises opens across the USA on Friday, February 28 - do you know where the movie is playing? Once again, Ghibli Blog is here to help direct you to the theaters in your area, for showtimes and tickets.
Follow theses links to MovieTickets and Fandango, enter your zip code, and the search engines will direct you to the nearest theaters showing The Wind Rises. I am not yet aware if Disney plans to expand the number of theaters in coming weeks; I would assume that will be determined by turnout. So if you want everyone to see Miyazaki's "final masterpiece," you need to turn out this weekend. Bring all your friends!
I hope you kids are all ready to go...tomorrow is the big day! Hayao Miyazaki's final directorial feature film, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) opens on over 400 screens in the USA tomorrow! Enjoy these screenshots, which were supplied to press outlets.
The big question on everyone's minds is, simply, "Is this the final Miyazaki film?" The answer is a very probable yes. The decision has been made for Studio Ghibli to continue into the future, beyond its original visionary founders. And that means the studio must spend time necessary to cultivate the next generation of talent. Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Goro Miyazaki are the newest directors, and their projects are closely developed and supervised by Miyazaki himself. He has chosen the projects and source material, developed the pre-production and story ideas, and generally started the car before handing the keys to the new kids.
Simply put, there isn't enough time left to devote to several new directors, film and television projects, and develop another directorial feature film. At 73 years of age, it's miraculous that Hayao Miyazaki continues to work at the level he does. The Wind Rises completely wore him out; we've said this many times in the past, but age and time will exact their toll. Panta Rhei. All Flows.
Careful readers will note that I have specified only feature animation films. Hayao Miyazaki still intends to create short films for the Ghibli Museum and manga comics. This movie is not his final masterpiece by any stretch. But it is most likely the final chance we will have to see his art shined on the big screen, in a dark theater packed with our dear family and friends. This is a special moment, dear readers, and I sincerely hope you don't let it pass.
I don't think anybody bothered to tell the Dreamworks execs that the "Poochie" episode of The Simpsons was supposed to be SATIRE. It's not a bloody instruction manual, ya schnorers!
I'm a huge fan of Rocky & Bullwinkle, but all these bad CGI movie adaptations just leave me feeling depressed. No wonder I have regular panic attacks about the thought of mortality. Movies like this are used by atheists as evidence in debates. Oy, my head hurts.
I wish I had some holy water. Back, back! The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!
Obviously, as the creator of Ghibli Blog, I'm rooting for Hayao Miyazaki to win a second Best Animated Oscar for his final directorial feature, The Wind Rises, at this Sunday's Academy Awards. But I think Disney's smash hit Frozen is a guaranteed lock on this year's Oscar. A few quick reasons why:
1) Everyone Gets One Oscar. It's an unspoken rule that the Motion Picture Academy will give you one award for your career, not just one film or performance. And, most often, one must suffer several nominations and "earn their dues" before winning. Hayao Miyazaki was already given his Oscar. In the eyes of Hollywood, he's in the club.
2) Voters Haven't Seen Miyazaki's Film. The Wind Rises only played briefly in New York and L.A. at the end of the year, in order to qualify for nominations. Last Friday, Disney released the film to an extremely limited 22 theaters; wider release is this Friday, February 28. That makes it unlikely that Academy voters even had an opportunity to see the picture.
3) Disney is Fighting For Frozen. A decade ago, Miyazaki won his Oscar for Spirited Away because Pixar's John Lasseter fought tooth and nail on his behalf. You need powerful players to carry your back in this game. This year, Disney/Pixar has their own nominated movie to support. Guess which movie that is.
4) Frozen Has Swept Awards Season. A good gauge for who will win on Oscar night is the collection of awards shows leading up to the March 2 broadcast - Golden Globes, BAFTA, the Annies, American Cinema Editors, the various Film Critics Associations. Disney has swept everything this year, making this an almost guaranteed lock.
5) Old Voters Fear Anime. The median age of Academy voters is 62. And male. And white. And what does the average senior citizen think of Japanese animation? They're scared of it. Scared to death. "Anime" is this strange, alien beast, a nightmare world of naked strippers, giant robots, gratuitous violence, and buckets of blood. Or, conversely, "anime" means cheaply-made, choppy cartoons like Astro Boy or Speed Racer. They're not "real cartoons."
6) It's Disney's Turn. Remember what I said about everyone getting one Oscar? Disney has yet to win the Best Animated Feature category; it's usually Pixar's award most years. But this year, Monsters U failed to even win a nomination, which clears the field. And, thanks to John Lasseter's oversight, Disney Animation Studios have dramatically improved their output. Wreck-It-Ralph was terrific, and the Planes franchise is a huge hit with kids. Frozen feels like a triumph for the studio, a return to form not seen since The Lion King.
Frozen is a good movie, very solid, very skillfully made. It is making crazy money at the box office, the songs are big hits on the pop charts, and we haven't seen a good Disney animated musical in 20 years. This movie deserves its success and deserves to win its Oscar. I don't see any reason for Ghibli Freaks to feel bummed. Unless we're going to talk about Isao Takahata getting snubbed...oy, vey!