Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New cover art for Grave of the Fireflies DVD

As reported last month, Sentai Filmworks has acquired the North American home video license for Grave of the Fireflies and will release the film on DVD on March 6, 2012.  Recently, cover artwork for the new edition has been posted on the pre-order page.


Although the new cover is similiar to that of the previous DVD edition released by Section23 Films in 2009, the inclusion of film ratings by critics on the cover is a nice touch and I like the overall sophisticated look of the updated design.  It seems as though Sentai Filmworks holds this title with respect and I hope they have the option to release the film on Blu-ray in North America once it is released in Japan sometime in the future.

Let's hope that by getting this title back on the shelves, Sentai Filmworks will create new legions of  Studio Ghibli fans who haven't already discovered the works of Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki.  This film was one of the first few I watched after discovering the studio and it definitely deserves to be seen all over the world.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Is Disney preparing to dub Kokuriko-zaka Kara in English?

Walt Disney Studios may be in the process of prepping Gorō Miyazaki's 2011 film Kokuriko-zaka Kara for an English language dub.

Japanese theatrical poster for Kokuriko-zaka Kara

Den of Geek! published an interview last week with producer and long-time Steven Spielberg collaborator Kathleen Kennedy, who served as producer on Disney's English language dubs of Ponyo and The Secret World of Arrietty, due in North American theaters February 17, 2012. 

In the interview, Kennedy discusses her years of work as a producer as well as Spielberg's recent films War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin, and briefly touches on her collaboration with Disney and Studio Ghibli on the English dubs of their two recent films:

"They came to us because, for a wide variety of reasons, they wanted to understand why Miyazaki’s movies were so popular in Japan, and didn’t necessarily translate to an American audience. And I can’t say that, by any means, we’ve come up with the answer, but I think that each time - and we’re going onto the third collaboration with them - we learn something. And that’s really been what the process has been, we’ve been trying to help them bridge the gap with the people that are doing the marketing and distribution of their movies in the United States."
At this point, I think it's safe to assume that the "third collaboration" she mentions will be on Kokuriko-zaka Kara, Goro Miyazaki's second film, released in Japan on July 16, 2011.

It is still way too early to tell whether Disney plans a theatrical run of the film in North America or if they will go the Tales of Earthsea route, which was released direct-to-DVD alongside Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind's North American Blu-ray debut last March.  If they do go the home video only route, let's hope it's straight-to-Blu-ray this time around, since by then the film will definitely have already been released on the format in Japan.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lupin III and Panda Kopanda DVD release dates

Discotek Media has announced via Facebook the release dates for their upcoming DVD releases of Lupin III: The Complete First TV Series and Panda! Go Panda!

Previously released in North America on DVD but now out of print, Panda! Go Panda! will return to store shelves on April 17, 2012.  Distotek has confirmed that both short films, Panda! Go Panda! and Panda! Go Panda! The Rainy-Day Circus will be included in this new DVD release.

Next up is Lupin III: The Complete First TV Series, scheduled to make its North American DVD debut on June 26, 2012. No word yet on whether the set will feature an English dub, but it is probably more likely to feature the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

I'm really glad that Discotek Media has acquired these licenses and is dedicated to getting out of print titles back on the shelves and bringing other titles to North America for the first time.  Now if they could only acquire the rights to Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro and release it on Blu-ray here we'd be all set!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Hayao Miyazaki

Today marks the 71st birthday of animator and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.

Born on January 5, 1941 in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan, Miyazaki became an artist at an early age.  Fascinated with aviation, he began drawing airplanes and started what would become a life-long obsession with flight, a theme that is heavily incorporated into many of his films.  During high school, he devoted his efforts to becoming a manga artist, but after seeing Japan's first full-length animated feature, The Tale of the White Serpent, he discovered that animation was his passion.  The rest, as all Ghibli fans are well aware, is anime history.

To me, Hayao Miyazaki and his films are like a fine wine, getting better with age and becoming more valuable as years pass.  Although he's been in and out of retirement a few times in recent years, Miyazaki is still pushing forward at 71 and breaking new ground at Studio Ghibli.  Early reports indicate that he is already hard at work on the next feature film he will direct, his eleventh since directing Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979.

I look forward to the cinematic tales Miyazaki still has to tell in the years to come and hope for the continuation of what has already been a successfully long career in animation.  Happy Birthday!