Disney has just released My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle on Blu-ray. With these releases, the only major films left are Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, which have not seen the hi-definition treatment. Do Totoro and Howl, two modern masterpieces, deserve to be in your collection? Jeff and George share their opinions.
George: One of the things I love about Studio Ghibli films is that, often, there isn’t a clear villain or a villain at all. Like the incredible Ponyo, which is a story about love, Totoro is a film about a family and village that grow together and learn more about loving each other. It truly is a spectacular experience that begs nothing but for you to enjoy it. Disney has included a few extras with Totoro that add a lot to the Blu-ray. Unlike the other Studio Ghibli Blu-ray, where Disney just included the short DVD extras, Totoro includes interviews with Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki about the creation of the film and Studio Ghibli. By far, the best special was the locations of Totoro. We go on a journey to discover some of the real locations that inspired the film and the locations that were inspired by the film.
George: Agreed. Howl’s Moving Castle is a bit more romantic and always struck me as a film designed more for teens. It’s another film that we’ve watched countless times and never seems to lose its magic. Like Totoro, I wasn’t prepared for how spectacular Howl’s Moving Castle looks. It’s obvious that the skills of the Studio Ghibli staff grew tremendously over the 16 years that separate Totoro (1988) and Howl (2004). Not that Totoro isn’t beautiful, it’s just that Howl’s Moving Castle is simply stunning.
George: Howl’s Moving Castle is hurt only by the lack of any major extras. There are a few, like one about the voices, but they don’t offer anything for dedicated fans. The history and ground-breaking films of Studio Ghibli would enable some amazing special features. There definitely needed to be an introduction to the studio on these Blu-ray releases, especially for the Ghibli newb.
Jeff: I was a little struck by the lack of major special features, especially after the wealth of them on Totoro‘s disc. However, the few provided are enjoyable, if not a little lackluster. George is right, though: having a sort of introduction to Studio Ghibili on these discs would go a long way to help newer fans learn a little more about the company. In all, though, the lack of extras shouldn’t deter you from buying the disc. It’s well worth the price. Adding both of these films to your collection is highly recommended, especially in their superior, Blu Ray form.
By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
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