The Ghibli Factor

Last night I stopped by our new local Japanese Pop Culture store to see what specialty items they have. On their movie shelf were some popular anime titles in DVD packaging I hadn’t seen before. And one title in particular grabbed my attention. But let me rewind the clock for a minute…

When I was in film school, a close friend introduced me to a movie she thought I would really enjoy. She knew what type of stories and film styles I gravitated toward and picked out an anime title that she felt was extraordinary. The movie was Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. She had the English pre-2004 Fox Family Home Video version which is currently out of print. The movie was an absolute joy to watch, and it instantly became one of my top ten favorite movies.

A couple years later another close friend suggested I watch a newer anime film entitled Porco Rosso. The VHS she lent me was a fan-subbed version of the movie because there wasn’t a distribution company offering the video in the U.S. (DVD’s weren’t invented yet and high speed internet was too expensive for private use). Like Totoro before, I immediately loved the movie. Together, both films surpassed my expectations on how great stories could be told. Then I found out that both movies were created by the same film maker, Hayao Miyazaki!

Within a short time span, I had a copy of every Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli film available. Every single movie is a masterpiece of entertainment and Miyazaki’s work remains a primary influence in my creativity.

So, last night the DVD that caught my eye was My Neightbor Totoro. It wasn’t the 2004 Disney release and it specified including an English dubbed version of the film. There’s a charm to that pre-Disney version that I’ve missed ever since I lost my old VHS copy of the film. I asked the clerk if he knew what English version was featured on the DVD and he opened up the case to play the movie and find out. He skipped to the second chapter and after hearing the audio of the first syllable from one of the main characters, I knew instantly it was the old version of the film. SOLD!

If you’re craving a great, sincere and imaginative story, I highly recommend picking up a copy of My Neighbor Totoro.

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