Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman & Debbie Reynolds
Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
From the creative mind of Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away), his timeless coming-of-age tale about a young witch celebrates its 25th anniversary. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, in conjunction with Studio Ghibli, proudly presents Kik’s Delivery Service on Blu-ray for the first time ever. Newly remastered and accompanied with countless special features, this magical adventure invites you to take flight once again.
Kiki’s Delivery Service centers on a young witch who on her 13th birthday must follow tradition and venture out into the world for a year of training and adventure. Along with her faithful black cat, Jiji, Kiki lands in a beautiful new city where she forms her own personal delivery service while, learning responsibility and building confidence. Kirsten Dunst (Small Soldiers), Janeane Garofalo (Reality Bites), Phil Hartman (Saturday Night Live), Matthew Lawrence (Mrs. Doubtfire) and Debbie Reynolds (Singin‘ in the Rain) provide vocal talent in this English translation.
Based on the novel by Eiko Kadono, Miyazaki’s fantastic animated adaptation is bursting with colors and gorgeous production design. Straying from common depictions of witches as evildoers, Kiki’s Delivery Service offers a charming adolescent witch that audiences can relate to and sympathize with. In true coming-of-age-fashion, the young Kiki travels to a far away city where she can perfect her skills and develop her independence. Intendedly unusual, Miyazaki took influences from Ireland, Sweden and San Francisco to craft a city of beautiful uniqueness and familiarity. As she forms a friendship with a local baker and establishes her own delivery service, Kiki matures while, lacking self confidence. After much hesitation, Kiki develops a friendship with Tombo allowing her to experience adventures unlike ever before. Brewing with homesickness and struggling with her new environment, Kiki finds herself losing the ability to fly. Miyazaki relays Kiki’s loneliness in gorgeous fashion, tapping into the pain all audiences experience while growing up. Straying from the source material, Miyazaki incorporates an intense airship accident in the final act that finds Tombo in danger. With no choice, Kiki builds her confidence to fly into action and save her friend from certain doom, allowing the young witch to shine again. While, the relatable tale of growing up and finding your place in the world works on nearly every level, the alluring animation and paradise-like city setting are the film’s sharpest attributes. In addition, the English-dubbed performances are lively and comedic. Sadly, Phil Hartman’s contributions as Jiji would mark his final voice-performance before his tragic death in 1998. Critically and financially adored, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a delightful effort that visually stuns and connects to those forever young at heart.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment welcomes Kiki’s Delivery Service with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Vibrant and dashing, Kiki’s Delivery Service makes its Blu-ray debut with flourishing colors and rich detail, allowing the viewer to better appreciate the city landscape of the film. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, Kiki’s Delivery Service comes with both English and Japanese versions with optional subtitles. Dialogue is crystal clear while, Composer Joe Hisaishi’s romantic and adventurous score is relayed with splendor. Special features are aplenty with a newly included Ursula’s Painting (3:18) featurette joining classic DVD features such as, an introduction by John Lasseter (0:51), original Japanese storyboards (1:43:01), original Japanese trailers (8:06), Creating Kiki’s Delivery Service (2:26), where Miyazaki details his approach to creating the unique setting of the movie, Producer Toshio Suzuki offers insight on Kiki’s influences in Kiki & Jiji (3:27), Flying with Kiki & Beyond (2:50), Producer’s Prospective: Collaborating with Miyazaki (1:47) allows Miyazaki’s longtime producer Toshio Suzuki to shed light on their collaborative process. In addition, The Locations of Kiki (29:11), reveals the real world locations that shape many of Miyazaki’s films, Scoring Miyazaki (7:18), Behind the Microphone (5:00), with English cast members Dunst, Hartman, Garofalo and Lawrence commenting on the dubbing process along, with a DVD edition of the film round out the impressive supplemental package.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved Kiki’s Delivery Service is a heartwarming tale of self discovery and independence. A gorgeous sight of pastel colors and magnificently detailed settings, this coming-of-age story deeply connects with young audiences and those still young at heart. Flawlessly remastered, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have ushered Kiki’s Delivery Service with a Blu-ray debut fans won’t be disappointed with.
Available November 18th, Kiki's Delivery Service can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Billy Bob Thornton & Jada Pinkett Smith
Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Becoming one of the highest-grossing films in Japan’s history, Director Hayao Miyazaki’s vision of a fantasy world of gods would garner Studio Ghibli vast attention from the Western world. Awarded Best Picture winner of the Japan Academy Prize, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, in conjunction with Studio Ghibli, proudly presents Princess Mononoke, newly remastered on Blu-ray.
After contracting a deadly curse, Ashitaka, a young warrior, embarks on a journey through the forests in search of a cure. Through his travels, Ashitaka becomes entangled in a fierce battle between Lady Eboshi and her loyal humans against Princess Mononoke, a brave woman, aided by animal gods. Billy Crudup (Big Fish), Claire Danes (Homeland), Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting), Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo), Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) and Keith David (The Princess and the Frog) provide vocal talent in this English translation.
Throwing out the rules of movie making, Miyazaki blends the worlds of historical drama and fantasy on a grand scale. Epic in its scope and runtime, Princess Mononoke emphasizes several themes including the environment and lost innocence. Filled with mythical creatures and armies of warriors, Princess Mononoke enforces noticeably more violent imagery, compared to some of Miyazaki’s more lighthearted fare. Showcasing chopped off limbs and decapitations, the mature content and dramatic storytelling serves as Miyazaki’s response to the horrors of the real world. Throughout his search for a cure to his deadly curse, Ashitaka encounters several groups of characters all with their own desires and selfish agendas. Surrounded by hostility and slowly being consumed by death, Ashitaka hopes to forge peace between Lady Eboshi’s human army and Princess Mononoke’s clan of animal gods. Countlessly risking his life to see a better tomorrow for others, Ashitaka begins to fall in love with the Princess while, the hateful instincts of others begins to take hold. Gorgeously animated with several computer rendered moments, Princess Mononoke is an astonishing sight that ranks as one of Miyazaki’s finest artistic achievements. Complex and at times, convoluted, Princess Mononoke demands its strictest attention as its narrative is densely structured and difficult to follow for younger viewers. Incorporating many characters who come and go, Princess Mononoke experiences pacing issues in its final act that tends to drag longer than necessary. While, not exactly a narrative knockout, Princess Mononoke is a breathtaking event in animation history with character designs and battle sequences that amaze. Clocking in at over two hours, Princess Mononoke is a consuming viewing experience and one that will most likely grow in appreciation with repeated viewings.
Arriving with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Princess Mononoke is yet another gorgeous example of Miyazaki in high-definition. Relaying crisp colors and a clear picture free of flakes or speckles, Princess Mononoke is a stunner that will make viewers marvel at the sweeping battle sequences found within. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, Princess Mononoke comes with both English and Japanese versions with optional subtitles. Presented with always audible dialogue, the violent battles and animal stampedes offer a considerable boost in the mix that will surely benefit the viewing experience. Porting over previously available bonus features, Princess Mononoke provides viewers with original Japanese storyboards (2:13:21), original Japanese and English trailers (14:20), original TV spots (11:33) and the original English theatrical trailer (2:03). In addition, a brief featurette with Jada Pinkett Smith, Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton, Neil Gaiman and other creative talent offering insight on the English dub of the film is provided (5:05) along with, Princess Mononoke in the USA (19:57), a video record of Miyazaki’s US and Canadian travels to promote the film in 1999. Finally, a DVD edition of the film rounds out the supplemental package.
Masterfully animated and inhabited with deep themes, Princess Mononoke is an intensely epic animated film with few others like it. Astonishing in its scope, Princess Mononoke challenges the viewers with characters who are not simply good or evil but, very much human in their layered personalities. Complex and at times, difficult to follow, Miyazaki’s environmentally conscience picture can be a tough pill to swallow but, one that will surely benefit from additional viewings throughout the years. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment does domestic Miyazaki fans proud with another splendid transfer that preserves the elegance of this critically-acclaimed effort. While, scant on newly produced content, the existing supplements suffice with Princess Mononoke in the USA being the package highlight. Not quite Miyazaki’s finest effort, Princess Mononoke remains an animated epic with visuals ranking as some of Japan’s best from the last 20 years.
Available November 18th, Princess Mononoke can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.
The Wind Rises (2013)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci & William H. Macy
Released by: Touchstone Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Hailed as Miyazaki’s final film before announcing his retirement, a wondrous tale of a brilliant airplane designer would become the Academy Award-winner’s swan song. Loosely influenced by actual designer Jiro Horikoshi and Miyazaki’s own manga of the same name, this inspiring story ends a five year silence since Miyazaki’s 2008 effort, Ponyo. Touchstone Home Entertainment, in conjunction with Studio Ghibli, proudly presents The Wind Rises on breathtaking Blu-ray.
The Wind Rises centers on the young Jiro Horikoshi who longs to become a pilot. After realizing his poor eyesight will prevent him from doing so, Jiro is determined to become an aeronautical engineer and design the most beautiful airplanes. Visualizing his goals through his dreams and working tirelessly for years, Jiro reconnects with a woman from his past and falls in love. Conflicted by what his efforts have produced, Jiro looks within his thoughts for his hero, Giovanni Caproni, to guide him. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon), John Krasinski (The Office), Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow), Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada), Martin Short (Frankenweenie), William H. Macy (Shameless) and Werner Herzog (Jack Reacher) all provide vocal talent in this English translation.
Recently admitting he will continue making anime until his death, Hayao Miyazaki’s possible final feature film is yet another visual slice of perfection. Set at the turn of the century, The Wind Rises casts a light on Jiro Horikoshi whose determined to make his goals a reality. Brilliant and friendly, Jiro is reminiscent of every young soul who wishes to change the world with their ideas. Crosscutting between Jiro’s daydreams where he meets his mentor, fellow engineer Giovanni Caproni, Jiro can visualize his ideas and see their pros and cons. These dream sequences are not only beautiful but, offer insight into the creative mind of Miyazaki and how his genius operates. With close friend Kiro Honjo at his side, Jiro works through the years to make a difference in his overwhelmingly poor and dated country. After reconnecting with a woman from his past, Jiro asks for her hand in marriage, against somber circumstances. Never giving up, Jiro continues his efforts and is conflicted with the results after witnessing the use his creations have been put to. Coming under criticism for utilizing heavy smoking characters and a protagonist responsible for war machines, Miyazaki’s feelings are complex, much like the lives of his characters, and insists while he does not approve of the planes’ usage, they were one of the few creations the Japanese could be proud of. Regardless of their wartime agenda, Jiro’s creation and passion is the central theme of the movie that urges viewers to follow their own dreams and find their happiness. While, Jiro’s affection for his wife, Nahoko, tends to be dry and lacking in sincerity, Miyazaki crafts several sequences between the couple that are the very essence of romance. Finding love and living life to its fullest are the defining messages viewers take away from this dreamlike journey into the mind of a creative soul. Becoming Japan’s highest-grossing film of 2013, The Wind Rises is a captivating tale told through Miyazaki’s visually intoxicating imagery that define wonder and romance.
Touchstone Home Entertainment presents The Wind Rises with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. As Miyazaki’s most recent effort, colors are thunderously bold and consistent throughout the runtime. No anomalies of any sort intrude on the gorgeous imagery, allowing viewers to appreciate the countless flying sequences and early 20th century surroundings. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix, The Wind Rises comes with both English and Japanese versions with optional subtitles. Dialogue is rich and clear with the roar of airplane engines soaring through your speakers. Composer Joe Hisaishi’s Italian influenced score comes across with wonderful elegance, setting the mood for the film. In addition, a startling earthquake sequence offers a suitable rumble to the mix that adds nice emphasis to the visuals. For what is considered to be Miyazaki’s final effort, special features are rather light but, still worthwhile. The Wind Rises: Behind the Microphone (10:46) finds English Version Director Gary Rydstrom discussing the project along with fellow cast members Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Stanely Tucci, William H. Macy, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski offering their flattering opinions on Miyazaki’s work. In addition, storyboards (2:06:29), original Japanese trailers and TV spots (9:07), an announcement of the completion of the film (1:22:46) featurette which documents a press conference with Miyazaki, Voice Actor Hideaki Anno and Singer/Songwriter Yumi Matsutoya along with, a DVD edition of the film round out the supplemental package.
Universally acclaimed, The Wind Rises is a gorgeously realized effort from Miyazaki’s never-ending imagination. Brought to life by complex and layered characters, The Wind Rises is a dreamlike tale of chasing your goals and injecting beauty back into the world. Touchstone Home Entertainment sends Miyazaki’s final work off on a high note with stunning picture, crisp audio and decent, if not, slightly light special features. True to his inspiration, Miyazaki not only accomplished making something beautiful with The Wind Rises, but leaves viewers with a sense of determination to make their own dreams come alive.
Available November 18th, The Wind Rises can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.