Review: Studio Ghibli films on Blu-ray

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For years to come, Studio Ghibli fans will no doubt remember 2013 fondly as a year that has brought two new releases from the great animation studio: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya. The last time this happened was 25 years ago when Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro and Takahata’s Graves of the Fireflies were simultaneously released in Japanese theaters. So there is really no better time than now to revisit some of the Ghibli classics, the very films that have given this studio the legendary status it has today.

Thanks to our Australian anime distributor Madman, I have had the opportunity to see some of the classic Studio Ghibli films on Blu-ray, and what an absolute pleasure it was. Of course, it is ALWAYS a pleasure to see a Ghibli film, whether it is on VHS, LD, VCD or DVD, but to see it in high definition is a whole new experience that really offers something special and splendid.

My Neighbour TotoroMy Neighbour Totoro (1988)
My Neighbour Totoro is Hayao Miyazaki’s most simple and delightful film. The two young girls at the centre of the film are wonderfully realized and totally believable, while Totoro is so loveable that even a grown man like me gets the desire to give it a big hug. Miyazaki has masterfully taken advantage of the story’s simplicity to evoke a sense of childhood wonder that we can all relate to. The result is one of the most memorable children’s films that even adults will cherish and can openly admit to loving without ever feeling embarrassed.

You can check out Andy’s review here.

Kiki's Delivery ServiceKiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Kiki’s Delivery Service is a beautiful and inspiring film. Like My Neighbour Totoro, it tells a simple and charming story: Kiki moves to a big city where she makes friends, learns to look after herself and deal with life’s challenges. The film looks wonderful, with the seaside town design being based on a number of different European cities. Rather sadly, it will perhaps always be Hayao Miyazaki’s most underrated film; but in reality, it is a most endearing film that deserves a proud place in the great filmmaker’s filmography.

You can check out Andy’s review here.

My Neighbours The Yamadas

My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999)
Like Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata’s My Neighbours the Yamadas may be seen as a smaller film in his filmography. Unlike his earlier film Graves of the Fireflies, Takahata tells his story of the Yamada family through vignettes of their daily lives. It is unique for its blending of classical poetry and elements of modern living. The visuals created with watercolour also give the film unique aesthetics. The end result is a brilliant film that is both funny and heartwarming at the same time.

You can check out Ching Yee’s review here.

LaputaLaputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
Laputa: Castle in the Sky is easily one of Miyazaki’s most influential masterpieces. Exhilarating and enormously entertaining, it follows Pazu and Sheeta as they embark on an exciting journey that sees them end up in the floating castle in the sky. This fast-paced adventure film is breathtakingly epic in scope and so action-packed that it can be classed as an animated action film. The Blu-ray format really enhances the visuals, as all the fine details that the animators have painstakingly drawn can now be fully appreciated.

You can check out Andy’s review here.

Howl's Moving CastleHowl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Based on the books by British author Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle is a fantasy film that details a world full of magical characters and adventures. Even though it is not based on Japanese mythology like many of his other films, Miyazaki has proven with this film that themes of life, love and compassion are universal. In the end, however, this is actually my least favorite of Miyazaki’s films, because it somehow feels less personal than his other works, but I know there are many people who would disagree.

You can check out Deni’s review here.

ArriettyArrietty (2010)
Like Howl’s Moving Castle, Arrietty is another Studio Ghibli film that is based on the work of a British author. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a key animator on many Studio Ghibli films who is making his directorial debut, the film is elegant and gentle while the story is engaging and heartwarming. It proves that besides Miyazaki and Takahata’s works, magic is also found in Ghibli films from its other filmmakers. It also demonstrates that besides Goro Miyazaki, Yonebayashi may become one of the key directors at Studio Ghibli.

You can check out Deni’s review here.

After seeing all of these films again, I am truly impressed by how amazingly masterful and endlessly rewatchable Studio Ghibli’s films are. And this is not even ALL of the studio’s films. Many others, like Nausicaa Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso, Spirited Away and the aforementioned Graves of the Fireflies, are also nothing short of spectacular. The release of these films in high definition is a monumental step towards allowing current and future generations of children and adults alike to fully appreciate and enjoy these truly timeless classics. They are absolute must-owns for all fans of Studio Ghibli and animated films.

10 unforgettable adventures out of 10.
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