By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
GKIDS & Shout! Factory
Sept 22, 2020
The question of which North American Studio Ghibli home video release is worthwhile to own depends on how consistent the package design is between each distributor’s release. I tried to obtain all the region two releases but as home video player technologies changed, I adapted because I favoured high definition over a low fidelity DVD format.
The changeover of rights is not confusing. Disney got the license for certain films, and if the title was deemed “too adult,” it was a Touchstone Pictures release. Universal Pictures handled the non-Miyazaki products, and over time the Mouse conceded. GKIDs and Shout! Factory took over distribution. I’m at the point of filing away my cases and making a custom binder to store my many versions and not worrying about how my collection looks on the media shelf. With The Wind Rises now on Bluray, I can say my collection is more or less complete.
The transfer is gorgeous. The colours are well balanced and fine detail perfect on my 48 inch television. The black lines are crisp and sound mastered 1.0 DTS-HD, which means this presentation is in mono sound. My tip is to set your audio receiver to stereo or DTS master for a fuller soundscape. Hayao Miyazaki’s decision for this format may have to do with giving his film a period specific presentation–cinema back in those days was mono.
It may surprise some people that this director did not push the sound envelope when considering he’s an aviation enthusiast. I’d love to see this film take advantage of ATMOS or DTS:X for overhead sound. It’s not likely, though. This famed director is not like George Lucas, fiddling with his work again because the technologies have improved since the film’s original run.
When considering this movie is a fictional biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, an airplane engineer, wanting to take to the skies but can’t, he finds freedom in other ways. His idea is to give others a chance to walk on air and feel the exuberance of what it’s like to be above it all, in the clouds and away from the hate which existed in a pre-World War II Japan. Just how he carries on is because he enjoys his work. The romantic interest was added on to dealing with the climate of hate being fostered when he was sent to Germany to further develop his trade.
This GKIDs re-release is a step above from the prior Disney version. The transfer is essentially the same. We get a few added videos, like “10 Years With Hayao Miyazaki Documentary” and “Film Completion Press Conference.” The storyboards are nothing new, especially when they’re a standard feature with this distribution company’s products. The bonus here is the 11-page booklet with two mini-essays, “The Japanese and War” and “Director’s Statement” originally published with the region two release and translated for your reading pleasure.
5 Stars out of 5