Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind: The Graphic Novel


Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind will always stand as Hayao Miyazaki's magnum opus, a true masterpiece of epic storytelling, thrilling action and brilliant art design. As the holiday season is upon us, this is the perfect time to purchase a copy of this graphic novel.  Fortunately, Viz Media offers two excellent versions: a deluxe box set containing all seven volumes in two large books, bound together in a hardcover case; and the individual seven volumes available separately.

Many years ago, Nausicaa was first released in the United States in a four-book series. That was the version I first purchased, and it's now long out-of-print, making it a prized collector's item. The newer versions, however, are superior in every respect, from page side to quality of translation. Die-hard Miyazaki fans, of course, will want to collect literally everything. They should begin here with these two different presentations.

The only improvement I would offer for any future release of Nausicaa would be to include Miyazaki's original publishing schedule for the monthly serial. It helps a lot to know just where he took his many breaks, usually to work on his feature animated films. These long breaks, ranging anywhere from one to three years, allowed Miyazaki to return with fresh insights and new ideas, resulting in a constant evolution of the story and its characters.

Many Miyazaki fans and Ghibli Freaks have yet to discover the man's many works in manga comics. If you've never read them, you're missing out on a third of his career, just as if you've never discovered the many pre-Ghibli films and television series. If you are among them, you owe it to yourself to have the Nausicaa books in your library. Ask Santa or Hannukah Harry to leave a set under your tree this year.

Visit Ghibli Blog on Twitter and Facebook


As Ghibli Blog passed its tenth anniversary this year, we* have been doubling our efforts to grow our brand on Twitter and Facebook. Both "franchises" feature unique content, as I scour the internets for Studio Ghibli swag, merchandise, news clips, and the occasional piece of fan art.

My goal for Ghibli Blog has always been to foster discussions and examinations of these great animated movies, and the longer articles will continue to appear on the main website. For shorter snippets and quick bites of Ghibli goodness, we post on Twitter and Facebook.

As we are planning our expansion into DT Media, our social media sites also cover movies, music and videogames. But I am always very mindful to keep Studio Ghibli in the center spotlight, so I don't want anyone worrying about a lack of focus. And this main Ghibli Blog website will always remain focused solely on "Ghibli, Animation and The Movies."

As always, our Twitter feed is available here on the main website in the middle column. Please join our social media community at Twitter and Facebook. We're very glad to have your support.

(*"We," of course, refers to myself and wife Marcee, who manages our Facebook page.)

Ghibli Blog on Feedspot's Top 100 Animation Blogs


Recently, RSS feed website Feedspot was kind enough to award Ghibli Blog as one of the "Top 100 Animation Blogs" on the internet. We're very honored and thankful for the recognition.

I promised Feedspot founder Anuj Agarwal to acknowledge with a shout-out not only on Ghibli Blog Twitter and Ghibli Blog Facebook, but also on the main website. And, hey, they even gave us a shiny medal. How cool is that?

Thank you very much for the appreciation, and, as always, much thanks to everyone who supports Ghibli Blog in all our franchise locations. We work hard every day to inform and entertain Ghibli Freaks everywhere.

Spirited Away and Ghiblies Episode 2 in US Theaters December 4/5


To celebrate its 15th anniversary, Studio Ghibli, Gkids Films, Hot Topics and Fathom Events are teaming up to release Spirited Away in a limited theatrical run in the US. Tickets are available online, as well as local theaters that are participating.

The English-language dubbed soundtrack (produced by John Lassetter and Disney) will be shown on December 4; the Japanese-language version (with subtitles) will screen on December 5.

The best surprise of all: Ghibli's 2002 short film Ghiblies Episode 2 will also appear at both screenings. This film played the opening slot of a double bill with The Cat Returns the Favor in Japan, and both movies area available together on DVD and Blu-Ray. This will be the first time Ghiblies has been shown outside of Japan. Hopefully, there will be a home video release on our shores in the near future.

Studio Ghibli theater events are pretty popular, so I would strongly advise buying your tickets quickly, before they run out.

Spirited Away 15th Anniversary: Theater Locations

Photos - Boro the Caterpiller


Details of Hayao Miyazaki's upcoming CG short film, Boro the Caterpiller, are few and far between. We still have yet to see any storyboards or production artwork or screenshots. The only detail yet shown is this illustration of the main character, who Miyazaki describes as "a tiny, hairy caterpillar, so tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers."

Planned for a 2017 release, hopefully some new details will emerge soon. And perhaps we will also learn new details of the proposed Miyazaki feature film which may or may not happen. And you thought Studio Ghibli was finished!

Hayao Miyazaki Planning His Next Feature Film


You knew Hayao Miyazaki would never stay "retired" for long.

On Sunday, Japan's NHK network aired their latest program on Studio Ghibli, Owaranai Hito Miyazaki Hayao (Hayao Miyazaki: The Man Who is Not Done). The program followed Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli as he worked tirelessly on his latest animation progress, a  CG short film titled Kemushi no Boro (Boro the Caterpiller). This project is scheduled to be completed in another year, and will screen exclusively at the Ghibli Museum in Japan.

The surprise announcement by NHK, however, is that Miyazaki is now in the pre-production stages of a new feature animated film. Miyazaki reportedly grew unsatisfied with only working on a short film, and began creating storyboards for a full-length movie. Snippets of these storyboards are teased in the program (a longtime Ghibli and NHK tradition), and boards for 100 cuts are promised by the director.

This is in keeping with Miyazaki's filmmaking style, in which he creates the first act (of five) before production officially begins. The rest of the script and storyboards are created during the production itself, in a crazed, seat-of-the-pants style that somehow, miraculously, works.

The project has yet to be officially announced or even green-lighted. In his proposal, Hayao Miyazaki names Summer 2019 as a possible release date, or perhaps the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

As always, time is the most pressing issue for Studio Ghibli. The strain on staffing during the twin productions of The Wind Rises and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya proved too much for Miyazaki, who was forced to work clean-up animation on many cuts himself. It was this strain that finally convinced him to retire from feature film directing, although it had been planned as part of the studio's long-term strategy (where the baton was being passed to the new generation of directors, including Goro Miyazaki and Hiromasa Yonebayashi).

That physical toll, combined with the exploding production costs (even The Wind Rises failed to turn a profit), resulted in Studio Ghibli dismissing their full-time animation staff and continuing with a skeleton crew. The studio insists they are only taking a break, but their future remains questionable. Could a new Hayao Miyazaki movie turn Ghibli's fortunes around? Or is the Miyazaki brand name no longer bankable? Would audiences turn out for another "final" film?

Will the new Miyazaki movie become a reality? I certainly hope so, but I am also realistic. Time and budgets may be running out. The studio needs a reliable revenue stream to survive. Perhaps they outsource much of the animation work? Perhaps they hire staff on a contract basis, as they did in their early years? Perhaps Goro-san and Yonebayashi-san become reliable successes at the box office? Perhaps other media ventures (television, music videos, videogames) will become viable again? Questions abound from all directions, with few answers and no direction home.

Despite what you may have heard, kids, the long, strange trip is not yet finished. Stay tuned.

Photos - The Story of the Yanagawa Canals

 


The Story of the Yanagawa Canals is the 1987 live-action documentary directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Hayao Miyazaki (the first project under his production company, Nibariki). It aired on Japan's NHK network and has appeared on VHS, LaserDisc, DVD and Blu-Ray, the latter as part of the excellent Isao Takahata Blu-Ray Box package. This is a lesser known work in the directors' canon, but no less brilliant or compelling.

Yanagawa features a number of short animation clips, describing details of the vast and complex system of waterways, sluices, gates and canals that developed and evolved over centuries. Some segments show moments of daily farming life, and there are even a couple comical bits like frogs swimming about. All of these were animated at Studio Ghibli, although the studio wasn't technically credited for the production, which began in 1984.

Earlier this year, Toshio Suzuki revealed a fascinating story about the early days of Studio Ghibli. After the box office success of Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Hayao Miyazaki's fortunes (which suffered through the difficult years of 1977-83) dramatically turned around, and he found himself with real money for the first time in his career. Suzuki suggested that Miyazaki-san serve as producer of Takahata's Yanagawa documentary project, and so Nibariki was founded.

Unfortunately, as nearly always happens, Paku-san found himself behind schedule and over budget. Miyazaki became exasperated as his money steadily drained away. In a panic, he turned to Suzuki-san, who offered some sly advice: Why not direct another feature film? With the financial backing of publisher Tokuma Shoten (the publishers of Animage Magazine, of which Suzuki was in charge), the decision was made to found a new animation studio.

Hayao Miyazaki would dub this new home Studio Ghibli, based on the Italian word for a hot wind. He, Takahata and Suzuki would be its founding fathers. Miyazaki set to work on Ghibli's inaugural movie, Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Paku-san would serve as producer, as he did on Nausicaa. Suzuki would serve as the Svengali, the power behind the throne. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Story of the Yanagawa Canals was finally completed in 1987, after a very long three-year production schedule. Miyazaki finally hit the brakes and cut off Paku-san's budget. "That's it! End of story! Go to bed!"

These screenshots come courtesy of Generacion Ghibli, everyone's favorite Studio Ghibli website from Spain. Be sure to visit them and follow them on Twitter. And don't forget to purchase the new book, Antes De Mi Vecino Miyazaki.

When Marnie Was There Deluxe Edition Blu-Ray/DVD (UK)


On October 3, UK animation publisher StudioCanal released a new deluxe edition Blu-Ray/DVD package for Studio Ghibli's latest studio feature, When Marnie Was There. This new version features a slipcase cover, an impressive foldout case to hold the discs, and a set of five full-color postcards from the movie.

StudioCanal has always delivered impressive home videos of the Ghibli catalog, and this latest release will be embraced by fans. There appears to be some glitches with the initial print run, but I would expect these to be resolved.

The future of Studio Ghibli remains mysterious and murky. It remains unlikely that Hayao Miyazaki will return for another feature film, as Toshio Suzuki remains squarely against the idea. Isao Takahata has spoken of at least one film project which could materialize into a fully fledged production, but his famously long preparation times (to say nothing of securing financing) make this questionable.

Fortunately, there is still good news to report. Hayao Miyazaki is working on his newest CGI short film, and the US localization for Goro Miyazaki's Ronja the Robber's Daughter has recently wrapped up. The Red Turtle debuted at Cannes to great acclaim and will soon arrive in theaters around the world, and may pave the way for similar projects in the future. And the studio continues to work hard on their catalog titles and merchandising around the world.

The most important announcement will be Hiromasa Yonebayashi's next feature film, which he is busily writing and preparing. He has a long and fruitful relationship with Ghibli, and if their finances are secure (traditional Japanese animation has become ruinously expensive), I would fully expect the successor to Marnie to be produced at Ghibli. At least, that's my own personal wish.

In any case, this new Marnie release is very impressive and always welcome. This is a great movie that deserves to find an audience. If you're getting tired of the formulaic animated movies coming from Hollywood (especially studios not named Disney/Pixar), then you need to give Yonebayashi's coming-of-age ghost story a chance.

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