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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animated > Fantasy > Children > Japan > Anime > Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)/My Neighbor Totoro (1988/Studio Ghibli/Disney Blu-rays w/DVDs)

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)/My Neighbor Totoro (1988/Studio Ghibli/Disney Blu-rays w/DVDs)


Picture: B & C+/B & C+     Sound: B & C+/B- & C     Extras: B-     Animated Films: B



Tow major Hayao Miyazaki films have finally come to Blu-ray by way of Disney and we are happy to look at them now in nicely upgraded editions.



First we have Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) which we covered on Blu-ray at this link:




Needless to say I disagree with my fellow critic that 2D animation is all but dead, despite the plethora of 3D CGI and even partly hand-drawn feature films.  Howl remains well known, popular, holds up well and is a curio with voices on the English track ranging from Christian Bale to Lauren Bacall among the name voice actors, yet I like it in Japanese better which sounds better and flows better.  The idea of flying or floating giant structures is still dream like and fantasy oriented despite the real life equivalent of blimps and large flying vessels.


I enjoy how distinct the animation is, detailed but limited like the best Anime, but there is something more deep, emotionally rich and clever in these films versus the more sexual and violent Animes, so with nothing like them out there, the demand continues.  I liked the color range too.


Extras include Original Japanese TV Spots & Trailers and TV Spots, Behind the Microphone featurette, on camera interview with Pixar’s Pete Docter and featurette Hello Mr. Lassiter: Hayao Miyazaki Visits The Pixar Studios on both formats, but the Blu-ray adds Original Japanese Storyboards.



Then we have My Neighbor Totoro (1988) which we have covered twice on DVD at these links:

Review #!



Review #2



The tale of two very young sisters befriending the title forest entity could be scary if handled the wrong way, but it is handled with great grace and imagination here.  The girls have to deal with their mother being very ill while at the same time ironically find themselves making a special connection with nature and themselves at such a young age.  Again, you can see why this has so much appeal and is another one of Miyazaki’s most noted and popular films.  Despite being older, it holds up very well and despite the English voice talent including Tim Daly, Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning, I again liked the Japanese language track better.


Extras are all on the Blu-ray and include Original Japanese Storyboards, Original Japanese Trailer, Behind the Microphone featurette and six-part Behind The Studio featurette including Creating My Neighbor Totoro, Creating The Characters, The “Totoro” Experience, Producer’s Perspective: Crating Ghibli, The Locations Of “Totoro” and Scoring Miyazaki.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both Blu-rays outdo their previous DVD counterparts with ease featuring more detail, more depth and far better color range.  Totoro might have some slight noise here and there, but it usually looks fine throughout.  The anamorphically enhanced DVDs versions are the older pressings covered at the respective links above and are passable for their formats, but Totoro is particularly soft and neither can match how fine the Blu-rays look.  Both Blu-rays look so good, it makes the Japanese option with English subtitles more attractive and pleasant than ever before.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Howl is the sonic champ here with a terrific soundfield throughout that always has some kind of sound taking advantage of the discrete tracks and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo on Totoro is the next best with some Pro Logic/Neo-like surrounds, but no upgrade to 5.1 for whatever reasons sadly.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Howl DVD and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the Totoro DVD are weaker by comparison and Totoro is particularly weak and dated in this old DVD incarnation.  Any surrounds are very faint if there at all.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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