Two new combo pack releases from Studio Ghibli

Category: Blu-ray's and DVD's

catStep into the magical worlds of Hayao Miyazaki with the release of two movies now available on Blu-ray combo packs. “Spirited Away” and “The Cat Returns” are inventive and fun film.


“The Cat Returns” is a 2002 movie release. This is an imaginative film from the folks at Studio Ghibli and cute story of a young girl who finds her inner strength through an adventure in a magical world. This is a fun escapade for all ages.


Anne Hathaway supplies the voice of the main character Haru, with Cary Elwes voicing The Baron, a sophisticated and dapper cat with a top hat. In one of the bonus features, Hathaway says she had to scream a lot for the character of Haru. And Elwes admits it was a challenge to match the lines with the animation.


Peter Boyle and Elliott Gould also chime in about their experiences working on the movie. For Gould it was “precision, professionalism, and trust” that made his performance as rich as it is. This was a completely new experience for him.


Original Japanese storyboards and Japanese TV spots are also included on this disc. With Hayao Miyazaki being an executive producer on this film, it is clear to see his touch and vision in the movie.


spirited“Spirited Away” was released in in 2001, having been the number one film in all of Japanese history. This is the story of Chihiro (Daveigh Chase), a ten-year-old girl who is moving to the suburbs with her mother and father.


Chihiro is a lackluster and somewhat lazy girl. She is suddenly thrust into a fantasy world with unusual spirits and creatures. The story follows Chihiro as she maneuvers through this new world and finds her inner strength.


Bonus features on the disc demonstrate how special the film is and how the folks ad Disney took careful measures not to diminish the film in any way when translating it for American audiences. With an introduction by English Language Producer John Lasseter, who describes “Spirited Away” as a “Masterpiece” and “Magical, special, and unusual,” viewers are set up to experience the behind the scenes featurettes about the film and the history of the story as well as the brilliant art and animation.


As Lasseter states in a featurette, “Miyazaki is one of the greatest filmmakers.” Miyazaki is a hands-on filmmaker, even to the point of storyboarding the film himself and even penning some of the songs. The movie is described as “a visual feast.”


Viewers can also see the original Japanese storyboards as well as a subtitled Japanese special about the film.


A look at how the actors recorded their lines is very special. Usually when it comes to voicing animated characters, actors do not have the complete film in front of them. The filmmakers make the film to match the voices. But when translating the Miyazaki films into English, the actors had to make the lines fit the animated characters. This is known as ADR, or automated dialogue replacement. James Marsden, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers, Lauren Holly, and John Ratzenberer are all part of the voice cast and viewers see how they worked to make sure they got it right.


There’s no doubt the worlds of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are magical fantasy escapes filled with fun and beautiful animation. “The Cat Returns” and “Spirited Away” are great animated films for family viewing. “The Cat Returns” is rated G and “Spirited Away” is rated PG for some Scary Moments.


About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment business for over 20 years. She also writes about technology and has been a travel writer for the past 15 years. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book,  Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.

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