I notice that there have been new anime licenses announced at Anime Boston. Bandai has licensed Witch Hunter Robin, and ADV has licensed Azumanga Daioh, and Abenobashi Mahou Shotengai. Pioneer has finally confirmed Haibane Renmei, which looks beautiful and interesting, as well as the forgettable and stupid Mahoromatic Season II.
I've received Spirited Away, Laputa, and Kiki from Amazon. Haven't watched Kiki yet, but there's bad news about the other two.
Both of them have inexplicable black boxes around the video. Laputa is said to be 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and SA 2.00:1, but both are masked on all sides. No, not the black bars you see when you play 1:85:1 material on a 4:3 screen. I run a 1.85:1 screen, and they should fit perfectly. Instead, there's a black box all the way around the screen. It appears to be part of the picture area.
This is really weird. I've never seen anything like this in a DVD before.
The other problem is that Laputa has got serious edge enhancement, as bad as Phantom Menace, and that was pretty bad. The licensed R3 DVD (Singapore) also had bad edge enhancement, but the R2 did not; links to images of both were posted to the Miyazaki mailing list. Unfortunately, it looks like Buena Vista used the R3 digital masters for the R1 release as well. This sucks. On a large screen, the edge enhancement is glaringly obvious, and very distracting. Spirited Away has much less; it's not visible at all at normal viewing distance. But it's still got those damned black bars. In other ways, though, it is a very beautiful movie and a beautiful transfer; the colors are almost jewel-like, and the animation gorgeous and detailed. Laputa, despite its non-stop action, intense plot, and wonderful characters, looks a little flat and dated in comparison.
This recently appeared on the Miyazaki mailing list. It's second hand hearsay, but if it's true, it confirms what fans have feared about Disney's attitude towards the Ghibli films it has licensed, and bodes ill for future releases.
I just got some email from someone I know at the Mouse House. He's not involved with videos but I asked him to find out what he could. Management is said to be unhappy about getting their arms twisted to make them release "another money-losing Miyazaki film" into the theaters. They're equally unhappy about having to release the DVDs. As they see it, these things are money down the drain. Aside from the premiere titles that have had some theatrical exposure (which seems to be limited to SA) they're going to spend the absolute minimum necessary to master them. Among other things this includes using lackeys to do the work while the higher priced talent works on the profitable Disney titles. Unless Mr. Lasseter sees what's going on and resumes the arm twisting we are in for a long series of disappointments.
|Originally a Non-General Use character meaning 'calamity', and a reversed picture of a human figure, meaning 'reversal of calamity', i.e., 'good luck'. Henshall suggests taking this character as 'needle/sharp' (辛), with an extra stroke, and as a mnemonic: 'Extra sharp stroke brings happiness.'|