Neighbor Totoro (1988/Studio Ghibli/Disney Blu-rays w/DVDs)
B & C+/B & C+ Sound: B & C+/B-
& C Extras: B- Animated Films: B
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.
have Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
which we covered on Blu-ray at this link:
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.
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
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.
have My Neighbor Totoro (1988) which
we have covered twice on DVD at these links:
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.
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.
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.
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