Friday, July 5, 2013
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
"Totoro ... is a Troll!"
My Neighbor Totoro debuted in Japan as a double feature with the ever-so-dismal Grave of the Fireflies. My Neighbor Totoro is the story of two girls who move out to the Japanese countryside with their father while the girls' mother is sick in the hospital. This move away from the city is to somehow make life easier for their mother. While the girls love the country, the youngest girl name Mei, discovers Totoro. A mythical being who watches over the forest. Soon the girls embark on a journey as Totoro makes the forest come to life.
One of the problems that I have with the film, is the end. To give spoilers on a twenty-five year old film, it feels as if Hayao Miyazaki and the other heads over at Studio Ghibli couldn't give the film a real solid ending. There was no real solution to the problem regarding their mother and the two girls exit this fantasy where they get off the Cat Bus and everyone in the village is relieved that Mei is safe and sound. Did the mother finally get out or did she suffer and die like the mother in Grave of the Fireflies, because there is that sort of paralell?
But, other than that, I enjoyed it. I think that if I ever do have kids, this will probably be one of the first movies that I sit down and show them. I feel that the films made by Studio Ghibli are quality products that are for the whole family. And Disney has recognized that, mostly. I feel as if this bond between Disney and Ghibli in the United States has come to an end as they passed on From Up on Poppy Hill. Will this mean that Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke are doomed from getting a U.S. Blu-ray release? Time will tell; I give this film a 4/5.
Disney has given Studio Ghibli's a solid 1.85:1 video presentation in MPEG4. Considering that a lot of the older Ghibli films are sourced from master film prints as opposed from a digital source, this remastering process by Ghibli and Disney in Japan which we're getting now is breathtaking. There's a nice strong level of grain which preserves the original film look, which is something you don't get from a majority of anime these days. And the colors are nice and strong and preserved. It is truely a sight to behold. I give the presentation a 5/5.
We have three different audio presentations of the film; Japanese, English, and French DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo. The stereo tracks have been preserved to the highest quality as possible. Playing through all three tracks, it all sounds even. One problem I do kind of have, but cannot fully blame Studio Ghibli, is the loss of the original FOX/Troma dub of My Neighbor Totoro which was done at the end of the 1980's. I had managed to get my hands on the old FOX DVD of the film that only has that English dub only. Other than that, I give the film's audio presentation a 5/5.
Disney has given a wide variety of bonus material; a storyboard version of the film as we see how it went from storyboards to the final product which we got. Several different making of segments of the film. We learn that the film had been in Miyazaki's mind since the early 1970's and took time to develope over the years until after he did his first handful of movies. One of the segments is a small, yet, indepth look at how Joe Hisashi does his composings for the Ghibli films. Finally, the Japanese trailers for the film.
While the bonus material on this Blu-ray is great, Disney gave us an extra which makes me see red... a DVD copy of the film. I love that material provided, but for the love of God, get rid of these damn DVD copies of the film. I do not want them and I phased out DVDs from my library in 2008! Here we are five years later and I now still have to look at DVD copies in my Blu-ray releases. 5/5, despite my hate towards DVD.
Disney bent over fans on this release as we had to hand over $30 for this. Disney knows that we'll pay and they guess what, they've gotten my money on all of their Ghibli Blu-ray releases so far. It's a shame that Grave of the Fireflies is by a different studio here in the States as it would be nice to have it as a double bill like how they've released it in Japan on Blu-ray. I can recommend it, and grab it if the price ever drops. Knowing Disney, that'll never happen. 5/5.