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Buena Vista Revitalizes Miyazaki Classics

23 Mar, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Studio Ghibli will bring three classics by Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, best known in the United States for the best-animated-feature-film 2002 Oscar winner Spirited Away, to DVD and VHS with Japanese-language tracks.

My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind will each be available in two-disc DVD sets ($29.99) and on VHS ($22.99) Aug. 31 (prebook July 6). The DVD sets will include not only the English-language voice cast, but the original Japanese-language track.

The titles can introduce American viewers to the work of Miyazaki, one of Japan's leading filmmakers and an icon of animation. Although the titles are suited for younger audiences, they also appeal to the legion of older anime fans in North America.

My Neighbor Totoro is rated ‘G,' while Porco Rosso and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind are both ‘PG'-rated.

My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of a young girl named Satsuki (Dakota Fanning) and her 4-year-old sister, Mei (Elle Fanning), who discover after moving into their new house deep in the woods that their neighbor is a forest spirit called Totoro — a big, cuddly and rare creature who can only be seen through the eyes of a true believer — a child. Through an act of kindness, their new friend helps to unite their family and teaches them the power of trust and imagination.

Miyazaki's first full-length feature as writer and director, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, tells of Nausicaa, a compassionate princess warrior in the future who fights to negotiate peace between kingdoms battling for the last precious natural resources on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

A thousand years after a great war, a seaside kingdom known as the Valley of the Wind is one of the only areas that remains populated. Princess Nausicaa leads the people of the Valley of the Wind in a conflict with strange-looking creatures called Ohmu, who guard a poisonous forest that is spreading across the earth. Along with her mentor, Lord Yupa, and Asbel, a brave young prince from a neighboring kingdom, Princess Nausicaa must lead her people into battle to restore the bond between humanity and the earth.

The English-language version of the film includes voice talent from Alison Lohman and Patrick Stewart.

Porco Rosso is the story of Marco “Porco” Rosso, a valiant World War I flying ace, whose face has been transformed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell. When Marco's aerial heroics exasperate a band of sky pirates, they hire Curtis, a corrupt pilot, to eliminate Porco.

On the ground, the two pilots compete for the affections of a beautiful cabaret singer. But it is in the air, with Fio, the daughter of his unique plane's creator, that “Porco” Rosso learns the secrets that keep him one step ahead of the unscrupulous Curtis.

The movie features tropical Caribbean settings and dazzling aerial dogfights in a humorous tale of courage. It's also one of Japan's highest-grossing films. The English-language version features voice talent from Michael Keaton, Brad Garrett, Susan Egan, Kimberly Williams and David Ogden Stiers.

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