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My Neighbor Totoro and Ebert 178

peter_gzowski writes "Well known film critic and closet otaku, Roger Ebert, has a bi-weekly segment on his website where he reminisces about the greatest films of all time (in his opinion, anyway). The most recent installment covers My Neighbor Totoro. This is the second anime to make the list, joining Grave of the Fireflies. For those unfamiliar, Totoro is a film by anime master Hayao Miyazaki, the man behind Princess Mononoke, amoung many other great films (Castle of Cagliostro being my favorite)." Always pleased to see anime get more mainsream cred. And Miyazaki always deserves it.
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My Neighbor Totoro and Ebert

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  • I must admit, I've never gotten into anime. Would those who have recommend this as a good place to start?


    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @10:54AM (#2749240)
      Check out http://www.animeondvd.com/discdata/essential/index .htm
      Apart from battle athletes ( i dont like sports anime to much ) they are cream of the crop (or near enough) for now on dvd.
    • How about Princess Mononoke? It's a great example of the genre and I enjoyed watching it very much. It has many of the tried and true anime cliches along with a rather unique and warm hearted storyline. It's almost worth seeing for the forest spirits, or 'maraca headed guys' like my friends and I who've seen it call them. I would go so far as to say that Princess Mononuke is to most anime what Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is to most kung foo movies. So, for what it's worth, I highly recommend Princess Mononuke because it stands on it's own as a great animated film.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I recommend these titles:

      - Princess Mononoke
      - My neighbour Totoro
      - Grave of the fireflies
      - Kiki's Delivery Service
      - Ghost in the Shell
      - Akira

      These titles cover vastly different topics, are all characterized by wonderful animation and, IMHO of real artistic value.

      In addition, you might find interesting some of the following titles:

      - Some of the Galaxy 999 movies
      - Porco Rosso
      - Cagliostro's castle

      I'm sure I omitted soe great representative of the anime scene. These are good pointers, though. The first list is warmly recommended.


      • Vastly different topics/genres, true, but heavily weighted toward features and Miyazaki; it's like including 7 Disney films in a sum-up of American animation, and neglecting stuff like The Simpsons, South Park or Animaniacs. TV Anime has a lot of worthy "junk-food" titles that measure up well to the American titles I mentioned, like:

        Excel Saga [excel-saga.com] : In the first minutes of the series, the super-hyper heroine Excel is run over by a truck. Death is a frequent and very elstic occurence throughout this series about two young women who are devoted to the proto-Fascist Il Parazzo; the three together comprise the secret organization Across. The overall tone of the series is similar to early (comic-book format) Mad magazine. Try episode 16 (or perhaps 17, not really sure), where Excel travels to Los Angeles to try to learn the secrets of the American animation industry. A US release of the first 5 eps on DVD is imminent.

        Fushigi Yuugi (Mysterious Play) [geocities.com] : A fantasy "soap opera" and love story about a middle school student who is swallowed by a book, and becomes embroiled in a historical fantasy themed to ancient Chinese astrology. Eventually, the world of the book spills over into real life. The anime equivalent of a "chick-flick," but it does achieve a "fantasy epic" feel that overcomes its limited animation. The 52-episode series faithfully followed the plot of the popular manga.

        Jungle wa Itsumo Hale nochi Guu [anime-alberta.org] : A series that takes what is alien about anime in the first place, and raises it to an exponential level. Hale is a video-game-addicted youngster; his Mom is a borderline alcoholic who has adopted a young girl who, known only to Hale, has alien-like (possibly supernatural) powers.

        Noir [anime-alberta.org] : Kirika, a young woman with no memories, is united with Mirielle, a paid assassin haunted by her past. Kirika's only belongings are an id card, and a watch that bears ancient symbols of the secret society known as "Soldats" -- the same society responsible for the murder of Mirielle's parents. Kirika, for reasons she can't fathom, is as skilled at the tasks of assassination as the more experienced Mirielle, and the two go into business together as paid assassins, under the name "Noir." When evidence starts to emerge that Kirika was involved in her parents' deaths, Mirielle agrees to help Kirika uncover her true self -- and also swears to kill her once that task is accomplished.

      • I highly recommend "Ghost in the shell". It's disturbing and thought provoking like a good Philip K. Dick novel. For those of you who don't know Philip K, think "Blade Runner", that movie started out as one of his novels, although it wasn't quite as strange or as distubing as most of Philip's writing.

        I realize that anything I say about "Ghost in the shell" will ruin something. The first 15 minutes hold some mind-fucking surprises that have scarred me for life:)

        Anyway, don't show this movie to anyone who doesn't have a philisophical bent. I've read reviews by people who just didn't get this one.

        If you like having your mind blown or have a taste for existencial tragedy, you'll love this one.

        I don't have to add that young children won't get this, right?

        Rocky J. Squirrel
    • by CubeDweller ( 161624 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @12:58PM (#2749471)
      I've been a beginner fan of anime for just under two years now. The biggest problem I've run into is that Anime is just like any other form of media out there. 95 percent of it is crap, but if you know where to look you can find some real gems.

      In my opinion, the biggest pain is figuring out what age category a piece is aimed at. Most stuff isn't rated with the MPAA's G, PG, PG-13, R etc. ratings, or any similar system. Suncoast uses age recommendation stickers, but I've found them to be wildly inaccurate at times. Until recently, you couldn't find much anime at Blockbuster or other rental places, so you had to risk $20-30 on something that might be highly rated, but completely wrong for your interests or age.

      I bought the first couple of disks of Bubblegum Crisis 2040 after reading very positive reviews, only to find out that the target audience is probably in the 12-14 range. The last couple of disks in the series turned into a glorified version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

      But there is quite a bit of Anime that's good. I'll just list off a few of my favorites.

      Cowboy Bebop: An excellent series of 26 half-hour episodes aimed at 15 and up. A small group of bounty hunters track criminals throughout the solar system while dealing with their own shady backgrounds. The music in this one is legendary, and really makes the stories pop. The plot bogs down a bit around episodes 12-15, but the series overall is excellent. This is my favorite Anime and has turned me into a die-hard fan of the music composer, Yoko Kanno.

      Princess Mononoke: An incredible 120 minute movie aimed at 10 and above. I've shown this movie to dozens of members of my friends and family, and with only one exception everybody has liked it. A human mining community is destroying a forest populated by ancient animal spirits. A young boy is cursed by one of the displaced spirits, and goes on a journey to end the conflict. This one really stands out because there are no good or evil characters. Every side has their good and bad traits, and no side is completely innocent or guilty.

      Neon Genesis Evangelion: Another decent series of 26 half-hour episodes. The subplot is aimed at 15 and up, but younger can watch the surface story and be entertained. Giant robot combat on the surface, but with some very interesting religious undertones if you look closely. Basically, what would happen if technology progressed sufficiently that man becomes capable of resisting the will of God? Some don't like this series because the ending leaves so many unanswered questions.

      Gunsmith Cats: A series of 3 half hour episodes aimed at ages 15 and up. This is the Anime version of Starsky and Hutch. A pair of female gun shop owners are forced to go undercover working for the ATF. One of the girls is an explosive expert, and is really the one that sells the show. She's always wanting to blow up anything and everything, and the other characters have to keep her in check. All her grenades have feminine touches, like a pink ribbon tied around the pin, or a lipstick kiss mark. This is a good one if you want to have fun but don't want to think very hard. My wife loves this one.

      My Neighbor Totoro: A 90 minute movie, definitely aimed at children. My son is a bit young to follow most of the movie, but he thinks the Totoros are hilarious. The movie is a warm, fuzzy feel-good childrens movie all the way through. One of the best scenes is at a bus stop in the rain. A Totoro is loaned an umbrella to try to stay dry, and makes a game out of the sounds of raindrops hitting the fabric. My son laughs hysterically at this scene.

      Lain - Serial Experiments: A series of 13 half-hour episodes aimed at 18 and up. A young girl discovers the internet, and a hidden world behind it. It quickly turns into philosophical ruminations on the nature of conciousness and existence. If you're not an armchair philosopher you may get bored with this one, but I liked it. There's not a lot of action here, but plenty of stuff to make you think.

      Grave of the Fireflies: A 90 minute movie that can be watched by all ages, but will probably only be enjoyed by adults. This is a strong anti-war movie, and one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. It's set in the last few days of WW2 Japan, and centers around a pair of children whos parents have both been killed. The children are struggling to survive on their own surrounded by a society that's too caught up in the war to help them. This one's a tear-jerker, but a solid and enjoyable picture none the less.

      Supposedly Garasaki is decent, with a strong political backstory, and I may get into that series next, when I have money again. That might be a while.

      There's a couple of Animes I didn't like, as well. Bubblegum Crisis 2040, as I said above, is aimed for a younger age category than I prefer. Akira is supposed to be great, but I've never read the comic books, and it just didn't do anything for me. The Robotech series (I know, not really Anime) that I loved as a kid turned out to be nothing more than nostalgia. It's truly one of the worst things I've ever seen. The different Gundam Wing variants are awful. I don't know what people see in them. It seems like nothing more than one very powerful hero fighting off hordes of incompetent enemies. The different DragonBall series are very popular with the 8-12 year old category, and even some older people, but really it's nothing more than steriod pumped angry people in a never-ending run of trash talk a la Professional Wrestling.

      If you're interested in Anime, I'd say the best thing you could do would be to lurk on a couple of locations on the internet and look for suggestions. Once you've seen and liked a couple of pieces, and know what types you prefer (political, comedy, action, etc.) people should have a much better idea of what other things you might like. If you go to a site that does ratings, make sure they are honest about bad ratings. Too many sides offer 8.5 of 10 as their lowest possible rating.

      If you get the Cartoon Network, they're always playing Anime for the 10-14 year old category. Late nights on Sundays they play Cowboy Bebop. A lot of stuff on this channel is highly edited to make them suitable for television, but you can still get a taste. So far I haven't been too disappointed in the editing done to Cowboy Bebop.

      Hope that helped!

      • Out of the list I must agree with you.

        My favorite anime would have to be Serial Experiments Lain. It had simply beautiful artwork, an interesting story, and it had a subplot that was QUITE away from what it originally looks like.

        No spoilers for those curious but the creators said that this could not be understood by Americans (or, rather, non-Japanese). It deals with the struggle between western influence and the traditional Japanese way of life. Viewed under this context and with a shading of "What else could this mean" you can read a LOT of different plots into lain.

        For this reason (if not the hundreds of others), Lain is definately worth the time of those interested. Describe in 2 words? Fun Headtrip.
      • To anyone that is disappointed with the evangelion ending. Know that it's widely accepted that the last two movies are held as the REAL ending for evangelion. Essentially the movies says the same thing as the last two episodes, but with MUCH more money!
        The story that i've heard is that the last two episodes resulted from the Studio running out of money at the end of the production of the series. Two years later the studio made it up to the fans with the release of the movies and redoing the ending. And IMHO the movies are the best anime out there, sit back and prepare to have your mind blown to pieces. It's actually more appropreate to watch the series up to the last two episodes and then watch the movie ending.
        • Actually, the problem with the ending of Evangelion (as I heard it from some _serious_ anime buffs in the UK) is as follows.

          Throughout the making of Evangelion they would often finish episodes within a day of the transmission on TV Tokyo (the company that funded it). This was all well and good till an episode _fairly_ near the end that was just a little bit gory (and it was shown unseen by the TV Tokyo staff at 6pm).

          After that they insisted on proof watching all the episodes before transmission. The final episodes were rejected and they only had a day or so to make a replacement (so had to use a lot of canned footage), hence an episode that turned out to be a major anti-climax. I've still got to see "End of Eva", the alternate/simultanious ending movie they made at a later date and is _meant_ to be much more what they had in mind...

          (If my facts are wrong, I appologise, but this is what I was told after watching the series at an anime society I attend).
          • Actually, the problem with the ending of Evangelion (as I heard it from some _serious_ anime buffs in the UK) is as follows.

            Throughout the making of Evangelion they would often finish episodes within a day of the transmission on TV Tokyo (the company that funded it). This was all well and good till an episode _fairly_ near the end that was just a little bit gory (and it was shown unseen by the TV Tokyo staff at 6pm).

            After that they insisted on proof watching all the episodes before transmission. The final episodes were rejected and they only had a day or so to make a replacement (so had to use a lot of canned footage), hence an episode that turned out to be a major anti-climax. I've still got to see "End of Eva", the alternate/simultanious ending movie they made at a later date and is _meant_ to be much more what they had in mind...

            (If my facts are wrong, I appologise, but this is what I was told after watching the series at an anime society I attend).

            Hmm. You may be right though I have my doubts.

            I loved the ending of the TV series myself, and didn't like the movie at all. I suppose the translation might have something to do with it, though. I don't speak much Japanese and the only version of the movie I've seen is a Hong Kong pirate DVD with the worst translation you can imagine.

            But still the TV series ended with ideas that were much deeper and more interesting to me than anything I think you could express within the limitations of the sort of action you expect from a cartoon. I thought the effect was wonderful. You had 24 episodes to get to really know and care about some very complicated characters and then two episodes to use their lives to explore the problems that deep exist under the surface of peoples lives (and a bit of a solution as well).

            Hideaki Anno, the writer and director of Evangelion said "Evangelion is my life and I have put everything I know into this work. This is my entire life. My life itself."

            Here's a quote from an article about an Anime expo in California in 1996:

            A few people asked Anno about why he did the final two episodes the way he did, while noting that they felt the ending was confusing. Anno replied, via his translator, that he did not think there was anything wrong with the last two episodes at all and that if we didn't like the ending of Eva, that was our problem -- at which point he picked up the microphone and, speaking in English, said "Too bad."

            The end of the tv series does suffer from a lack of animation which suggests that there was some sort of problem, but the idea and script is incredible. I don't know if the ending of the TV series is what the author orginally imagined doing, but it's much deeper and so much more interesting than something action based could have been. Perhaps being forced to finish the series without the time (or perhaps the money) to animate it, freed Anno from the constraint of making something that LOOKS like a cartoon and let him express the ideas that really mattered to him better than a cartoon could have.

            The story I heard was that Anno got pretty angry at the reception that the ending got among the fans (Evangelion was a very popular series so there was a big fan base). He shaved his head, made a public apology (I assume his apology was sarcastic, but perhaps secretly sarcastic) and went off to make his movie. The movie, on the other hand was violent where the TV series had been reflective and nilisting where the TV series had been hopeful. I got the impression that Anno was diliberately punishing his audience for not appreciating his original work of art. In any case, I think TV series was a masterpiece and that the movie falls very flat.

            Rocky J. Squirrel
      • 1. Cowboy Bebop is *awesome*. It's a lot more than the simple surface plot. It is a story about people. The characters are the single most important part, and almost all of them are developed incredibly well. You have to pay attention to the recurring themes, the background noise, to get anything more than "bounty hunters killing things" out of this season long series. And it's still entertaining on the surface. Oh yeah. The Art and subtle blends of CG and traditional cel animation is incredible.

        2. Mononoke Hime is incredible. The animation is stunning, but the plot is even better. It really helps to know a little about Japanese myths and the idea of a 'kami', or spirit, as taken from Shintoism. Really a great movie.

        3. Neon Genesis Evangelion (or Shin Seiki Evangelion) is one of the best season long series out there ever. Perhaps one of the most emotionally charged and angst filled too. If you want an idea of how much, the director, Anno, created the series in large part as a way of dealing with his own incredibly deep depression. The story is about the creation of Man, the meaning of Life, and our Purpose in the Universe. It is also very, very confusing at times. They made a 26 (season long) series, then made a movie to explain the series, then made another movie to explain the first movie. But the animation is beautiful, the characters are wonderful. The series is perhaps one of the best, ever, out of all mediums. Truely a work of art.

        4. Gunsmith Cats is great. Sort of like a contemporary Cowboy Bebop. It's earlier animation, and it's a lot more 'fun', and less serious, but it's still great to watch, especially for the fight scenes and technical art.

        5. I haven't seen My Neighbor Totoro yet, but you would suggest that it's for children only. I'm not sure, but most anime work on many levels. Digimon is still entertaining for teenagers, or even adults. If you're watching it with the viewpoint of a child, you'll miss much of the more important parts of the film.

        6. Lain is a half-season long twisting path through the psyche of a 13 year old girl (Lain). I've watched it twice, and I still can't quite figure out what's going on. The movies raise the question of the next human evolution, the possibilities for human consciousness, and many others. And proceeds to answer none of them. The animation is very unique too, but also very well done. The main problem with this film is that you spend so much time wondering what's going on, you don't get to empathize with any of the characters. It gets better each time you see it though, as pieces of the puzzle lock into place.

        7. Grave of the Fireflies is truely a masterpiece. Everything said about it is true.

        There are so many more I can do. The best advice I can give is to go rent or borrow as much anime to watch as possible. The more you see, the more you'll be able to pick out the finer points of each one, and the more you'll learn to differentiate some bad animes (mostly in the 80s), from the really good ones.

        Some you'll like. Some are ok. Some are intolerable. One of the other suggestions I give is to see them in the original japanese language with subtitles. Dubs are easy on the eyes, because you don't have to read, but there's a lot you miss out in terms of nuances of voice, inflection, etc, that just doesn't carry well into English, or sounds just plain stupid when translated. And some dubs are done just poorly.

        And like I said, most anime work on multiple levels, so if it seems like there's something else there - there will almost certainly be.

        Good luck anime'ing. Ganbatte! (You can do it!)
      • I'd also like to add a mention of Jin-Roh, which at least a while back was in theatrical distribution in the US. It's a movie which happens to be animated; it is certainly not for kids!

        Porco Rosso from Miyazaki is also a nice, warm work, although with more conflict than Totoro.

      • I'd like to second the recomendations of "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and "Princes Mononoke" and add one more to the list.

        Sazan Eyes (or 3x3 Eyes): There were two series made, the first one "Imortals" is wonderful, though it looks like the producers ran out of money after four episodes and stopped the series right before the climax. The second series "Legend of the Divine Demon" isn't very good. I have a double DVD set with both series.

        I'd rather not ruin anything by trying to descibe the plot, so I'll just say that the program was produced for 15 and up and is a lot of fun.

        The second series changed the main character completely, she acts like a completely different person, eh I mean demon, and seemed to be too consciously aimed at girls (girl's animation, yuck) and at dirty old men.

        Rocky J. Squirrel
        • Sazan Eyes (or 3x3 Eyes): There were two series made, the first one "Imortals" is wonderful, though it looks like the producers ran out of money after four episodes and stopped the series right before the climax. The second series "Legend of the Divine Demon" isn't very good. I have a double DVD set with both series.

          The guy who wrote 3x3 Eyes later went on to create perhaps one of the best satirical Anime series, All-purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku. The satirical angle isn't as obvious in the original OAV as it is in the Nuku Nuku TV series, but both are funny as hell and are ripping fun.

          The trouble with Nuku Nuku is that it's getting very hard to find. AD Vision, the company that subbed and released the OAV in the US, has dropped their version and have no plans to bring it to DVD. Nuku Nuku TV was never picked up by any of the major Anime distributors here and seems to only be partially fansubbed. Nuku Nuku Dash! the second NN OAV, is pretty lame...it turns the series into a stupid shoujo story about the main character falling in love with the boy she was designed to protect.

          NN OAV and NNTV are to Anime what Police Squad! was to Cop shows. Nuku Nuku rips through Anime cliches like so much kitty litter. If you know anything about Anime you'll love it. Oh yeah, and there's plenty of fanservice there for the drooling otaku boy contingent.

          Please! Someone get in touch with Star Child Ltd. and King Records and get the rights to this series! Families of America! It is not too late for Nuku Nuku! ~_^

      • Always watch Anime in Japanese with subtitles instead of listening to dubs into English. This isn't snobbery, it's just that the American voice actors just read the script placed in front of the them and never, never, never bother to understand the meaning that script. Even when the script they're given is good, the actors do everything wrong.

        Part of the problem is that Japan, like much of the world, has years of experience dubing English shows into Japanese and so they have wonderful voice actors, while we, in our English-only isolation, have no need for good voice actors. Another problem is that the dubbing is usually done by very small companies on the cheap. They just shovel stuff onto a DVD and release it.

        I've also noticed that learning a little bit of a language can add a lot to watching a foriegn movie, because there are lots of words that don't really translate at all. If you enjoy Anime it's worth while getting a Japanese dictionary.

        Rocky J. Squirrel
        • The voice-overs for American-released anime are done by professional actors from a "gist" script sent by the producers. The original script is translated into English in such a way that the English-language script writers know what the character is trying to say, but without knowing the actual wording. The scriptwriters then create an English-language version of the script that matches the meaning, but also has to match to number of syllables that the character appears to be saying on-screen (mouth-flaps). So you may only get 15 syllables to say "Your grandmother killed my grandfather twice-removed in a swordfight - prepare to die, you bastard" (23 or so syllables in English). The actors record the dialogue in a booth while watching the movie and it has to match visually.

          I have this on excellent authority, from a friend who is a scriptwriter for ADV Films and another who is a voice actor.

          Watch the subtitles if you like, but don't knock the translation too much - there's very little that can be done to improve it without re-doing the animated sequences to match the syllabization of American language.
      • The following two schows are aimed at teenage girls but are pretty good too:

        Vision of Escaflowne(not the version shown on Fox) its got great animation, excellent music, very good story, great characters(its even got sir issac newton in it!), sword fights and some mecha battles. Its got romance and action etc. The only annoying thing is that the girl can't decide which guy she likes. 26 episodes from bandai. Oh, btw the mecha are designed by the sameguy as macross.

        Fushigi Yuugi, great story, got comedy, action etc. Again aimed for teenage girls, but AWESOME STORY. 52 episodes.

        I'd watch macross plus to as an intro, good story, characters and music.

        Nausica is good too.

        If you want to see funny stuff, watch the Lupan movies. As my old roomate put it "He is like a crazy inspector gadget that scores."

        If you like cars, Initial D is definatly the one to watch. With each season the animation(both cg and cell) get better and better. Its a fighting anime with car battles, no NOS here, just down hill action.
    • For the Slashdot crowd, try "Serial Experiments Lain", about a middle-school (?) hacker chick.
      Very geeky, very complicated.

      Can you get this in the states?
      If not, almost any Anime worth seeing can be downloaded via the WinMX P2P network. Install the Japanese patch [ok96.co.jp] and search on the Japanese title.

      (If you aren't able or willing to do this, then you are no fan and I SHUN you.)
    • I wouldn't. Not that I don't recommend the movie; it's absolutely wonderful. But it is, I believe, almost sui generis. Other than the artistic conventions governing the way the characters are drawn, it has little in common with other anime, from other directors.

      So watch the movie, and enjoy is as you almost surely will. (The American dub is a bit bumpy in places, with some translations not as well done as they might be, but that's just a quibble.) But do not regard it as an introduction to anime. It's just too unique.

  • Domo Arigato Miyazaki-sensei!
    And thank you Ebert for helping to increase the otaku-diaspora!
    • I like Miyazaki anime very much. However, in Japan, Miyazaki anime is not only for otaku people but also for all average children and adults. Miyazaki's anime movies earn as much as Holywood movies in Japan.

  • I thought it was a somewhat disturbing movie. The animators seemed to have an unhealthy obsession with little children's underwear(panty flashes are ok in anime geared for older viewers, but this was a kids movie for christ sake).
    • Ahem.

      So you think panty flashes of little girls in ADULT movies is ok, and in kids movies its perverse. Hmmmm...me thinks you got this one backwards. And why in hell did soeone uptick your comment? Sheez
      • No one "upticked" his comment; pay attention. If someone had, it would have said "Score: 2, Something-or-other" instead of just "Score: 2." The poster has high enough karma that he posts with a +1 bonus automatically. For that matter, so do I, but I'm foregoing it for this comment because rating it higher would only cause me to lose karma when someone dings it for being off-topic.
    • So... Little girls showing thier underpants is unusual? I reckon you don't have any daughters then. ;)

      Seriously, I don't think it was meant as any kind of a turn-on, just as cute realism.
  • weren't you off to see the fam?
  • Is animi a religion then?
  • Sign the petition! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fenris2001 ( 210117 ) <fenris@n m t . edu> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @11:37AM (#2749309)
    For those of you who don't yet know, Disney has NO plans to release any more of Miyazaki's films, despite owning the US distribution rights to 11 of his films.

    There's a petition here [petitiononline.com] to get Disney to at least release some of these films on home video.

    Disney's position is based on the poor performance of Princess Mononoke in the US. That release grossed just over $2 million in the US (it grossed over $150 million in Japan). However, it should be noted that Princess Mononoke was a limited release (I drove over 150 miles to see it - twice!), with little advertising before it came out.

    There is hope however. A previous petition convinced Disney to add the Japanese language track and literal English translation to the DVD relese of Mononoke.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @12:41PM (#2749439)
      Actually, Disney finally seems to be considering a release of some of them. Amazon.com has put up two pre-order pages for Miyazaki films on DVD, apparently testing the waters for Disney. You can find them below:

      Laputa: Castle in the Sky:
      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005JKY G/ qid=1009298238/sr=1-7/ref=sr_1_75_7/103-6213990-11 55808

      My Neighbor Totor:
      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00003CXC Z/ qid=1009298238/sr=1-6/ref=sr_1_75_6/103-6213990-11 55808

      If you're interested, make a pre-order. Their sales ranking is already fairly high for something that may not even be released.
      • Mod this up ! (Score:2, Informative)

        by tempmpi ( 233132 )
        Most of time I don't like post like mine now, but here it is different. An anonymous coward posted a really important information for all ghibli fans out there, and very likely most people won't notice him because it has a score of 0.
        You don't have to be registered at amazon.com or have your credit card information ready, in fact you must just enter you email address and amazon.com will send you an email when the disc will be released. You don't really preorder, if you enter your mail address there, you just tell them that you would very likely buy a dvd of this title if it becomes aviable. These films are really wonderfull, please help that they get a dvd release in english language.
    • "NO plans" is incorrect. Disney has not stated they are totally pulling out of the US market. Believe me, there's been a ton of virtual ink spilled over this issue, lots of information in back issues of MML Traffic.(1)

      Also, signing an on-line petition isn't that helpful. To really make your voice heard, write a _physical_ letter. Address.(2)

      (1): http://students.washington.edu/llin/mmltraffic/

      (2): http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/disney/writetodis ney.html
    • I got totoro (as well as a bunch of other movies such as Mamoru Oshii's excellent Avalon) from cdjapan [cdjapan.co.jp] . The only thing to watch out for is the language; not all of them have subtitles. For some things like Gatchaman it doesn't matter, but be warned.
  • Hey, REAL people like the same things we like! WOW!
  • Yeah, I always liked Ebert's respect for anime classics, whereas lots of other movie reviewers don't even know what anime is. As for Disney holding the rights to all their movies, you can find grey-market dvd's of most of them, often with decent english subtitles
    • The "Anime Cartoon International" sets are not "grey market", they're bootlegs. Grey market goods are offical, but reverse-imported from the sale country. I refer you to this page with a quote from Tokuma (parent company of Studio Ghibli): www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/video/answers.html
      • So I see... Thanks for the correction ^^; Sometimes it's hard to tell with those things.
      • The "Anime Cartoon International" sets are not "grey market", they're bootlegs.
        They are damn fine bootlegs, at that.

        Flame me if you want, but I've given up on Disney ever releasing any more Ghibli films. They've been sitting on a ready-to-release version of Laputa for over a year now. I don't think it will ever be released, in any form.

        Don't worry, I've spent plenty on official Ghibli merchandise: I've given over a dozen copies of both Totoro and Kiki as gifts; I've bought at least two Ghibli calendars per year for the last five years; I own multiple copies of Mononoke and GoF; I've bought plenty of other official merchandise. I've even preordered the Laputa DVD on Amazon.

        Basically, at this point I say "Fuck Disney." They've had their chance to get my money. They missed out.

        I'm sorry Ghibli doesn't get any procedes from my purchase of the Archives of Ghibli Studios DVD set. I understand the ramifications. But now I have a complete set of English subtitled Ghibli movies to enjoy and share.

        BTW, the Archives of Ghibli Studios set is very nicely done: Letterboxed; reasonably well done subtitles; a few chapter stops. I'm very glad I bought it.

  • What amazes me in the article Roger Ebert wrote is the number of times he compares Totoro with how American animations movies would have treated it. For example here:

    The film is about two girls, not two boys or a boy and a girl, as all American animated films would be.

    Why does he need to compare the two styles ? They are different, are based on different cultures and history... so they are not the same. As simple as it is.

    Totoro is one of the movies I enjoyed most ! I do not care if it is Japanese or American or even Czech, it is just excellent :)
  • The "real" Gzowski? If you're Canadian, your eyebrows may have raised like mine.

    Anyways, Merry Christmas, everyone!
    • No, I'm not the real Petet Gzowski. Long ago, and far away, I was trying to come up with a login name for something (Yahoo games, I think), and whatever I picked, it told me it was already taken. I reasoned that the majority of users of the service were American (or, at least, non-Canadian), so all I had to do was think of a Canadian personality and it shouldn't be taken. peter_gzowski was the first name I thought of, and lo and behold, it was unclaimed. From then on in, it was the user name of choice for me. This helps me avoid having annoying login names like mojojojo7687907.
  • This was the first anime I'd seen since Robotech when I was 5. It made me cry. Grab a box of kleenex or two before watching it.
  • Find yourself a R2-capable NTSC player and an importer and you can enjoy Miyazaki films in letterboxed digital glory. For those who prefer dubs to subs, there's even an english language track on the disc.

    The sad fact is, Disney acquired the Ghibli rights mainly for all the yen they'll get for the japanese releases as a distributor, not for any US DVD release - heck, they don't even *have* the DVD rights for anything but Monoke, last I checked. And Miyazaki doesn't give a rat's ass about whether his work is released overseas (which, frankly, is his prerogative and I can't complain). So, if you wanna see Ghibli flicks on disc, I highly recommend a multi-region player.

    • This is sad, but true. Disney most likely has no intention of releasing the rest of the Ghibli library, including such amazing classic films as "Nausicaa", "Laputa", "Porco Rosso". Miyazaki's latest film, "Spirited Away", will also most likely never see release in the United States.

      Thank god it's not illegal to modify your DVD player to play Region 2 DVD's. Oh, wait...

      By the way, all of the releases of Studio Ghibli films on DVD in Japan (Region 2) have also included English subtitles and sometimes also English dubbing.

      I'm sure Miyazaki wants his works to be enjoyed by as many people throughout the world as possible. If doing a commercial release in the United States doesn't make sense financially, that's fine. All the really hardcore fans will buy the Japanese DVD anyway.

      By the way, you can order Japanese DVD's from sites like CDJapan [cdjapan.co.jp] or Amo-Tokyo [amotokyo.com] or even Amazon Japan [amazon.co.jp].

      • There are also some legitimate Hong Kong versions of the Miyazaki films coming out on DVD more inexpensively; someone like HiViZone [hivizone.com] could get them for you. Reviews indicate that the quality of these discs isn't as good as the Japanese ones, and they are still region-locked, but even so, they might be a more economical alternative for the budgetarily cautious.
  • Miyazaki is a master story teller, and for those who are willing to embrace the media they are in for an emotional ride. Some might never find it interesting at all, others like me will be amazed by the stories he tells. It's a shame that Studio Ghibli themselves are not subtitling and dubbing (even though I will never be able to stand them) the movies to release them into the west.

    So to give you all a chance to have something to do until the next installment of LotR, go out and see if you can find one of Miyazaki's movies and maybe, just maybe, you can also find what I found, a treasure worth keeping in your heart.
  • by TekkonKinkreet ( 237518 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:43PM (#2750144) Homepage
    Totoro is an unqualified masterpiece in my semi-informed opinion (I'm a CG animator). Even beyond the constraints of the imaginary cat-owl-bear genre. :) I've inflicted it on any number of friends and acquaintances, always with happy results.

    At SIGGRAPH two years ago I was fortunate enough to see a presentation by a Ghibli AD in which he talked the audience through a bunch of scenes from this movie. "Here," he would say (through his translator), about a scene where the younger daughter picks flowers in the garden and stands on tiptoe to put them on the edge of her father's desk while he is working, "everything in the scene is intended to emphasize the innocence of Mai and the fatherliness of her father." Or waiting at a bus stop: "We kept the camera here for two more seconds to give the proper sense of spacial composition in time." (I've heard people call it slow, but I blame MTV fast-cut editing for salting the earth for more subtle techniques.) Amazing work.

    Miyazaki himself is a gruff, chain-smoking perfectionist by all reports, but he writes some beautiful stuff, the acting is subtle, some of the backgrounds look like Maxfield Parish, in Totoro for once the dubbing is excellent, and the whole is greater than any description of the elements can convey.

    YMMV, but I hope not.
    • Hear Ye!

      It's so tempting for me to lose patience with people who see Totoro as 'slow', but it takes a while, I suppose, to get acclimated to a way of storytelling which often places as much emphasis on the spaces 'between the notes' as it does to scenes or moments of frantic activity. Those beats and pauses are very intentional and very Japanese, and immensely effective once you get over the ingrained Western horror of silence and subtlety.

      The bus-stop scene with the droplets of water on the 'umbrella' is priceless.


      Laputa has a similar appeal, in a format that is more appealing to those who squirm uncomfortably in the absence of giant flying robots.

      As long as it is, I just wish that Laputa was a bit longer...in the quiet parts. After awakening on the cloud city, I'd like to see an entire hour devoted to the characters quietly exploring an unconvering the ancient and overgrown wonders of the city. As it is, the sence of quiet majesty is a bit too quickly dispelled by the reappearance of the antagonists and the main story line. Great movie tho', and a must see if you can find it. I have it in Japanese, but I don't know if it's available with subtitles...
    • Tonari no Totoro is amazing :) He does such a great job of portraying the young girls... it never feels faked or like a gloopy paen to adult nostalgia. This is absolutely my favorite of the Miyazake films I've seen... no matter what, it always puts me in a good mood... and who wouldn't like the cat-bus?
  • Ebert was, I think, also primarily responsible for Akira's popularity in the U.S., as he was the first (only?) movie critic to review and praise it.
  • Miyazaki's newest film, "Sen to Chihiro no Kami Kakushi". Just came out in Japan. I think the English title is "Spirited Away" or something like that.

    I saw it in the theater. Absolutely spactacular.
  • As expected there are no shortage of posts in this thread that confuse the "anime" of rabid fandom fame with the full-length movie features that Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli produces.

    Simply put, they are two different things.

    Comparing a regular anime with Totoro is like comparing "Superfriends" with The Lion King. One is churned out weekly in sweatshop production lines using repetitive themes and recycled cells. The other is major production where every cell is a piece of art (and usually ends up selling like it later).

    The other thing Ebert neglects to mention is the music. Miyazaki's films have music that uniquely identifies the mood of every scene and which can be listened to endlessly afterwards to re-live the film. Coincidentally I spent part of this afternoon lying on the couch listening to the soundtrack of Kurenai no Buta aka "Porco Rosso". My son asked me why just listen to the music and not watch the movie? My answer was simple: Listening to the music, I don't have to watch the movie. It's that good.

    North Americans have only seen two of Miyazaki's films: Totoro and Kiki. However, even better (in my opinion) films have yet to be released:

    Kurenai no Buta ("Porco Ross")
    Tenku no Shiro Laputa ("Laputa, Castle in the Sky")

    If Disney is serious about not releasing any more Miyazaki films it will just prove what many suspected; Buy the rights to a vastly superior product, carry out a half-hearted promotion campaign emphasizing the wrong things ("A-List Voice Talent!" my ass), then bury the rest citing the "poor reception" to the first couple of releases.

    The definitive resource for all Miyazaki/Ghibli films remains nausicaa.net [nausicaa.net].
    • Well, I got to see a large chunk of Miyazaki's work in 1999. I saw Totoro, Laputa, and Porco Rosso. They showed Nausicaa and Lapin aka Castle of Cagliostro. IIRC, they also showed Mononoke a week before Disney's release.

      The thing about Totoro that most people don't understand is it is, like most of Miyazaki's work, heavy on the relationships of its characters. In Totoro's case this manifests itself in how the children are able to cope with their mother's hospitalization. Of course, the theme of nature and man's role in interacting with it also appears in Totoro and is one of the main themes throughout Miyazaki's work, especially Monoke, Laputa and Nausicaa.

      Unlike a lot of anime, Miyazaki films almosy always have the following characteristics:

      1. themes of man vs nature
      2. strong characterization
      3. a female protagonist that is not simply a man with curves
      4. some kind of awesome planes (miyazaki loves planes and flight)

      I'll gladly watch some Miyazaki work, but most anime does blow, either being mindless drivel as an excuse for combat, or highly abstract crap trying to be philosophical (the highly acclaimed Neon Genesis Evangelion was a pain to watch for me) while justbeing boring.

      Miyazaki manages to write stories that successfully entertain kids and adults alike. He is a perfectionist that actually allows that to work for him and not agianst him.

      It is too bad that Disney won't release a lot of their films to the home video market. But they do the same thing with Chinese films as well.
  • Well known film critic and closet otaku, Roger Ebert

    AFAIK, otaku is Japanese for geek.
    • sort of

      if anything it means obsessive fan and was used by a lot of anime fans at the time instead of using the word for "you".The actual meaing of otaku is "house".

      being "otaku" of any type is not considered good. There are car otaku, sports otaku,basicaly otaku for anything.

      The reason it is considered bad is that(according to my japanese professor) there was a guy who killed a number of people in japan and he was "otaku" and was really in to anime and had a ton of tapes. As a result a bad meaning got attached to the word.

      Hence I find it funny when people refer to themselves proudly as otaku without really unterstanding the meaning. I wouldn't go to japan and refer to yourself as one(I saw people who did while I was at school there, it was funny).
      • The reason it is considered bad is that(according to my japanese professor) there was a guy who killed a number of people in japan and he was "otaku" and was really in to anime and had a ton of tapes. As a result a bad meaning got attached to the word.

        There is that, but the enduring problem with otaku is that they never leave their house, hence the name.

        • "There is that, but the enduring problem with otaku is that they never leave their house, hence the name."

          The actual definition my japanese professor gave was "Someone who has the computer, TV and VCR setup so they don't need to move at all." The social context was given later.

          Anyways the above definitions were both true of a former roommate of mine, then once he got a girlfriend his Anime interest, and obsessivness of it dramatically decreased.
  • It has been a personal favorite for years.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"