New on Blu-ray: The Films of Studio Ghibli

Spirited Away

Studio Ghibli has been responsible for some of the most iconic animated films in cinema history. Their films have captured the imagination of fans of all ages, while tackling themes on the environment, isolation, and issues related to coming of age just to name a few. Today, and throughout the fall, Studio Ghibli and GKIDS, in distribution partnership with Shout! Factory, are releasing several of the famed titles from their library on Blu-ray & DVD combo packs.

This week’s release features some of the of Studio Ghibli’s most popular title: Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. Unlike previous versions, the Shout! Factory Blu-rays feature a slew of special features that have never before been seen before on home media in North America. While each Blu-ray has hours of extras that will satisfy fans, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo have the most in terms of new special features.

As delightful as it is to explore the interviews with the likes of director Hayao Miyazaki and longtime producer Toshio Suzuki, the allure of Studio Ghibli has always been the films themselves. Going through the six films released today, I was remined of the lasting power of these films. While My Neighbor Totoro is a film that I had revisited recently, it had been well over a decade since I last watched either Kiki’s Delivery Service or Princess Mononoke. Those films instantly transported me to worlds that I had not realized I had missed so much. Princess Mononoke was just as thrilling today as it was when it was first released in 1997.

The biggest surprise for me this time around though was revisiting Ponyo, my least favourite of the Studio Ghibli films. Though I was not a fan of it the first time around, I was now able to see its charms while viewing it with my son, who is the target age for the film. Seeing his eyes become mesmerized by both Ponyo and the far superior Spirited Away, helped to reinforce what make the works of Studio Ghibli so impactful. Their films speak to audiences of all ages. The innovative animation and magical characters allow us all to consume complex issues regarding nature and humanity in a digestible way.

Although fans of Castle in the Sky and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind will have to wait until October 31 for their Blu-ray releases, The Secret World of Arrietty and Porco Rosso fans until November 21, there is more than enough Studio Ghibli goodness in these six films to entertain for hours on end.

List of Bonus Features

My-Neighbor-Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro Special Features:
Feature-Length Storyboards; Original Theatrical Trailers; Behind the Microphone; Textless Opening and End Credits; Creating My Neighbor Totoro; Creating the Characters; The Totoro Experience; The Locations of My Neighbor Totoro; Producer’s Perspective: Creating Ghibli; 8-page Booklet with Producer’s and Director’s Statements

Spirited Away

Spirited Away Special Features:
Feature-Length Storyboards; NTV Special (on DVD); Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; Behind the Microphone; 12-page Booklet with Producer’s and Director’s Statements

Howl's Movig Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle Special Features:
Feature-Length Storyboards; Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; Interview with Diana Wynne Jones; Miyazaki’s Visit to Pixar; Explanation of CG; The Birth Story of the Film Soundtrack; Behind the Microphone; 8-page Booklet with Producer’s Statement and more

Ponyo

Ponyo Special Features:
Feature-Length Storyboards; Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo; Press Conference: Theme Song Announcement; Behind the Microphone; Opening Event at Hibiya Scala-Za Theatre; Interview with Hayao Miyazaki; Interview with Toshio Suzuki; Theme Song Music Video; Hayao Miyazaki Press Conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan; Creating Ponyo; Ponyo & Fujimoto; The Nursery; Scoring Miyazaki; Producer’s Perspective: Telling the Story; The Locations of Ponyo; 8-page Booklet with Producer’s and Director’s Statements and Lyrics

kiki' s Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service Special Features:
Feature-Length Storyboards; Original Theatrical Trailers; Ursula’s Painting; Creating Kiki’s Delivery Service; Producer’s Perspective: Collaborating with Miyazaki; Behind the Microphone; The Locations of Kiki’s Delivery Service; Kiki & Jiji; Flying with Kiki & Beyond; 8-page Booklet with Producer’s and Director’s Statements

princess mononoke

Princess Mononoke Special Features:
Feature-Length Storyboards; Original Theatrical Trailers; TV Spots; Princess Mononoke in USA; Behind the Microphone; 8-page Booklet with Producer’s and Director’s Statements