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Buena Vista Breaks Out Third Wave of Ghibli Films

25 May, 2005 By: Edwin De La Cruz

Buena Vista Home Entertainment brings to DVD two new films from the studio that many consider to be Japan's ‘Disney.' The third slate of titles from premier animation house, Studio Ghibli, features My Neighbors the Yamadas and Pom Poko, due Aug. 16 on two-disc sets at $29.99 each (prebook June 21).

While many consider Studio Ghibli to be synonymous with the director Hayao Miyazaki, these two new films weren't directed by the famed anime maestro. Instead, they were helmed by long-time collaborator Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies), who has worked alongside Miyazaki since the late 1960s and produced Studio Ghibli's first film, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

“Their films are some of the best in storytelling,” said Lori MacPherson, SVP, brand marketing, BVHE. “We are delighted that through their partnership with Disney, we have been able to introduce these films to the U.S. audience.”

Yamadas and Pom Poko are two of the most unique of the Ghibli films with their brand of humor and Japanese cultural references.

Their release coincides with Buena Vista's upcoming theatrical release of Studio Ghibli's latest film, Howl's Moving Castle, scheduled to hit theaters June 10.

Buena Vista also has announced a 12-week temporary price reduction on four Ghibli hits: Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky and the Academy Award-winner Spirited Away.

“We have seen that the Studio Ghibli titles have broad consumer appeal and are popular with audiences of all ages all over the world,” MacPherson said.

The Yamadas, Takahata's latest directorial effort, is based on a traditional four-panel comic strip serialized in the daily Asahi Shinbun newspaper. It is about the daily lives of the Yamada family, and can be compared to American TV staples such as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” The film is the first fully-digital movie created by Studio Ghibli.

Pom Poko tells the story of a community made up of Tanuki and their fight against a governmental construction project that threatens their natural habitat. Tanuki are animals native to Asia and can change shape to human form, according to Japanese folklore.

Buena Vista has tapped top Hollywood talent to lend their voices for the English-language versions of the films.

The cast of My Neighbors the Yamadas includes Jim Belushi and Molly Shannon. Pom Poko features Jonathan Taylor Thomas (TV's “Home Improvement”) and Olivia D'Abo (“Tarzan & Jane”), among others.

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