Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Genius of Miyazaki

I recently wrote about last week's release of Ponyo, the newest animated film from Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. Not only was Ponyo released to DVD and Blu-Ray by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment last week, though - three other Miyazaki classics were also released on Special Edition DVD. If you have yet to add Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, or My Neighbor Totoro to your collection, now is the perfect time to do so.

For those of you who aren't familiar with any of these films, here's a brief description of each:

Castle in the Sky
Of all three films, this is the one most likely to appeal to older kids. Sky pirates, a floating castle, secret government agents, and a girl who floats down from the sky wearing a magical pendant are only a few things that will keep you and your child glued to the screen.

This fast-paced adventure is full of incredible imagery and features an all-star voice cast, including Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek and Mark Hamil.

Kiki's Delivery Service
This charming story was my first introduction to the world of Miyazaki a few years ago. Kiki is a young witch who must follow tradition and set off on her own to become a full witch. She settles on a far-off city where she sets up her own delivery service to help the city. She and her cat encounter many obstacles and adventures in her quest for independence, and she learns responsibility as well as finding new friends and her place in the world.

Kiki is an upbeat, cheery film that would please all ages. My favorite part of Kiki has to be her cat, though, voiced by the late Phil Hartman. 

My Neighbor Totoro
Imagine the stress two small girls might face when their family moves to a new home. Now imagine those two girls find a new friend in a forest spirit that adults cannot see, and he takes them on spirited adventures where they meet all kinds of extraordinary characters.

My Neighbor Totoro is perhaps Miyazaki's greatest celebration of imagination and seeing the world through a child's eyes. It's a film that the youngest of children can enjoy, while reminding adults of the magic of childhood.

Each of these films feature a 2-disc DVD set filled with bonus features, including the World of Ghibli interactive experience that lets you explore all of the Miyazaki films in one area.

If I had any complaint about these special-edition DVDs, it would be that Disney didn't go one step further to make these Blu-Ray/DVD combo sets. I'd love to see the added richness of Blu-Ray like they did with Ponyo.

The best thing about each of these Miyazaki films is that they are nearly non-violent and encourage children to use their imaginations and continue to believe in the fantastical. Miyazaki is like the Peter Pan of filmmaking, encouraging all of us to keep believing in magic every day.

Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro are all now available on DVD at Amazon or several other retailers.

1 comment:

Steffi said...

i totally agree on how wonderful these are. i am in possession of a lot of the Studio Ghibli collection and i love them all. i have younger cousins which i show them to and am hoping to use introduce them to kids when i qualify to be a teacher next year. they are perfect for children of any age =]