Spirited Away from Miyazaki Goes Blu

Spirited Away, the 2002 Oscar winner from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghiblio arrived on Blu-ray (Disney Home Ent.) along with The Cat Returns. It has never looked better.

Spirited Away is a wondrous fantasy about a young girl, Chihiro, trapped in a strange new world of spirits. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, she must call on the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world.  The film was made in response to Mayazaki finding young girls in Japan apathetic.

“I know a girl who is like the girl who is in this film and now she has become a strong woman,” Miyazaki explained during an Academy tribute a few years back.  ”I don’t think it’s because of the film… but she turned into a decent, strong adult. I seem to model my characters on people who are around me that I know….

“However, there are some things that Japanese audiences will understand visually that American audiences won’t. And in those cases, what I strive to do is make sure that the American audience will be at the exact same level of understanding at any one time in the movie that a Japanese audience would be. And sometimes that’s a bit of a challenge. An obvious example of that was on Spirited Away when the main character was exploring the village and looks at this building. All Japanese audiences would know right away that it’s a bath house. But no one in this country would know… so we just added a little line.”

The English-language voice cast includes Daveigh Chase (Chihiro), Suzanne Pleshette (Yubaba/Zeniba), Jason Marsden (Haku), Susan Egan (Lin), David Ogden Stiers (Kamaji), Lauren Holly (Chihiro’s Mother), Michael Chiklis (Chihiro’s Father), John Ratzenberger (Assistant Manager), Tara Strong (Baby) and Bob Bergen (Aogaeru).

Written and directed by Miyazaki, the English-language version is produced by Donald W. Ernst and John Lasseter. Bonus content includes an introduction by John Lasseter, as well as “The Art of Spirited Away” and “Behind the Microphone” featurettes and original Japanese storyboards, Nippon Television Special, original Japanese trailers and TV spots.

Directed by Hiroyuki Morita, the visually stunning The Cat Returns features Haru, a schoolgirl bored by her ordinary routine who saves the life of an unusual cat and suddenly finds her world transformed beyond anything she ever imagined. To change her fate, she’ll need to learn to believe in herself and, in the process, she will learn to appreciate her everyday life.

The English-language voice cast includes Anne Hathaway (Haru), Cary Elwes (The Baron), Peter Boyle (Muta), Elliott Gould (Toto), Andy Richter (Natoru), Rene Auberjonois (Natori), Tim Curry (Cat King), Judy Greer (Yuki), Andrew Bevis (Prince Lune), Kristen Bell (Hiromi), Kristine Sutherland (Haru’s Mother) and Katia Coe (Little Haru).

Bonus features include the original Japanese storyboards, original Japanese trailers, TV spots, and two features: “The Making of ‘The Cat Returns’” and “Behind the Microphone.”

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Crafts, Home Entertainment, Movies, Tech, Trailers

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