The Hayao Miyazaki Collection gathers together the films of who is arguably the greatest animator in Japan, of not the world, Miyazaki Hayao, into one set by StudioCanal, spanning the master’s entire career, from his 1979 feature breakthrough, the crime caper The Castle of Cagliostro, to what he has said is his last film, the epic fictional biopic The Wind Rises (2013).
Together at last, this collection of the Studio Ghibli co-founder’s eleven films allows fans to watch his progression over the course of thirty-five years, from a fantasy and environmentally concerned filmmaker (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984); Ponyo (2008)) to the deep drama and anti-war concerns of The Wind Rises (2013).
In each film, Miyazaki-san not only displays a command of the visual aesthetic, with his signature rounded character designs and watercolor backgrounds full of detail, but he also offers up mature subjects that entire families can enjoy, but that also provide much food for thought. They are like the best of the Pixar films (Up, for example), with less of the more childish aspects, but never cynical or crude.
The films contained in this collection are:
- The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
- My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
- Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
- Porco Rosso (1992)
- Princess Mononoke (1997)
- Spirited Away (2001)
- Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
- Ponyo (2008)
- The Wind Rises (2013)
StudioCanal’s transfers of these Miyazaki films remains pretty consistent, given that they span three-and-a-half decades. Castle of Cagliostro, which is Miyazaki’s 1979 film based on the classic manga series concerning the bandit Lupin, shows the most wear, unsurprisingly. Strangely enough, Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), which was also shot on film, shows very little film-like qualities in the transfer from StudioCanal, having a somewhat heavy-handed approach to DNR. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) is also a bit heavy handed with the clean up of grain, but not as much and still retains some of its filmic quality. The best looking of the collection shot on film are Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Porco Rosso (1992) Princess Mononoke (1997). Nausicaä retains a classic, organic look, while still looking clean, but detailed. Porco and Mononoke benefit from their ’90s productions, and a less heavy approach to grain reduction. Once we hit the digital age, with the films Spirited Away (2001), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008), and The Wind Rises (2013), everything is flawless and spectacular. All of the films come in Miyazaki-san’s favored 1.85:1 aspect ratio encoded at 1080p/24 in AVC, except Castle of Cagliostro, which has a 1080i/60 frame rate.
Audio is of the par excellence variety, whether we are listening to the monaural sound mix from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in Japanese or English LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit), or Howl’s Moving Castle in Japanese or English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit). Just as time progresses, however, so does the quality of the sound in this set. Castle of Cagliostro with its Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0 Stereo mixes sounds fine for a film from 1979, if a little edgy in the high end and artificially atmospheric in the surrounds, but by the time we get to Howl’s Moving Castle, there is such good balance with solid effects and just the right amount of low end extension. Miyazaki-san, never one to rest, throws us for a loop, however, by going back to an intimate, monaural soundtrack for The Wind Rises, the last film, chronologically speaking, in this set. Although it subtracts channels, it still sounds amazingly warm, balanced, and has good separation of sounds. People should be aware, however, that the release of The Wind Rises in this set does not contain the English dub with the all-star cast of Western actors including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, and Stanley Tucci.
Unfortunately for fans, this collection strips away all of the extras from all the individual releases of these films, leaving this as a rather barebones set, despite the fairly slick booklet, slipcase, and bonus Blu-ray that offers up a 90-minute press conference with the legendary director from September of 2013 announcing and explaining his retirement. All of the picture-in-picture storyboards, interviews, behind-the-scenes with English voice casts, making-ofs, trailers and more are nowhere to be found.
- Exclusive Booklet features:
- On the Miyazki Style
- The Films of Hayao Miyazaki
- The Great Dichotomy: Looking at the Works of Hayao Miyazaki
- Ponyo One Sheet Treatment
- The Wind Rises film proposal by Hayao Miyazaki
- Bonus Disc:
- Hayao Miyazaki Retirement Press Conference (6 September 2013) (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 01:35:41)
The Definitive Word
The wonderful animated films of Miyazaki Hayao, from the crime caper of Lupin to the war elegy biopic of his swan song The Wind Rises are collected in one large, gorgeous set, but even minus the extras, this is an excellent set for fans of this master animator, director, and storyteller.