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Animation and Anime


El Cosmico here, enjoying my PRINCESS MONONOKE DVD, in Japanese. TATARIGAMI!

Many upset fans, including myself, aligned themselves in anger against the forces which tried to put this disc out without a Japanese language track. Just as our anger was warranted then, at this time, what is warranted is a massive amount of purchasing.

It's a matter of responsibility, consistency, and just plain honorable behaviour. In a campaign led by, and aided in large part by AICN readers, Disney/Buena Vista/Miramax or whatever you want to call them, heeded the fanatical rantings of justified anime afficionados, and agreed to delay this disc until the Japanese language track could be included. At this point, it would be shameful for us not to buy this disc in extremely large numbers. They have delivered on their promise, we should deliver on ours.

The film is beautiful. The color saturation on this disc is wonderful, and the audio is exceptional as well, a satisfying 5.1 track for the surround-enabled. The packaging appears unaltered from its original form, inspiring not the smallest bit of fear in me as I first saw it, but sure enough, this disc includes the original, wonderful work of the original Japanese voice actors. Of course, it's still a little shameful to put the names of the English voice actors on the cover, as if they deserve credit for the prominence of this work somehow. Really, as good as the English dub on this film was, and it was one of the best, you should only use that track for your small children, those too young to read quickly. To watch the film otherwise is a shame. One would have also hoped that the words "From The Great Hayao Miyazaki, Master of Animation", or some such thing, but, such is life in the US. We are always reluctant to admit we are not the center of the universe.

Such matters are of quickly passing importance, though, once the disc is popped in. Such beautiful music, so beautifully transferred onto this disc, and as I said, the colors on this disc's video transfer are to die for. Exquisite. Wonderful.

The menus could have been done in a bit more of a creative fashion, and could have included a great deal more, in my opinion, but with all DVDs, the most important thing is the film itself. The featurette included was of little interest to me, as I hardly need to listen to Hollywood actors tell me about Japanese animation. In any case, if it helps convince Americans that this is a great film, I suppose it's fine with me. What I don't like about it most, though, is that it treats the film as though it was made possible chiefly by Hollywood actors and actresses, while in my opinion, they only take away from the film when compared to the original Japanese actors. The tone is simply lost in the translation. Also, the featurette is extremely short. The inclusion of the trailer is fine too, but again, the Japanese trailer should have been included as well. In other words, as much as I love this film, love the fact that the Japanese track was included, and love the transfer quality, the extras on this disc are ridiculously scant. For many discs, I'm not sure of how much source material is available, but for this one, well, there is simply no excuse for the extreme lack of extras on this disc.

That ultimately doesn't matter to me, though. PRINCESS MONONOKE is an exceptional, wonderful film, and I'm overjoyed to have it in my DVD collection, at long last. I hope that Disney/Buena Vista/Miramax includes more extras in their DVD releases of other Miyazaki works, but make no mistake about it, this disc is an absolute must have. For anime fans, for those with children who are tired of sitting through the same Disney crap over and over again, for film lovers of all kinds, and for those who want to send a positive message to studios when they actually do the right thing and listen to fans.

Run out now, and buy it. Give it as a holiday gift. To many people. Few gifts could be better.

-El Cosmico

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