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BLU-RAY REVIEWS: Spirited Away and The Cat Returns

BLU-RAY REVIEWS: Spirited Away and The Cat Returns

Disney has
issued several Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki features on Blu-ray over the past
few years, and that’s always great news. But for many, the most anticipated
title has been Spirited Away—the film
which, it’s been reported, was even voted the Best Animated Feature Oscar by
people who worked on competing features in the same category.

 

The Blu-ray
transfer does not disappoint. The minute details are sharp and clear in a film
that is overflowing with such riches. Of course, it’s not the same as seeing it
properly projected in a theater, but at the same time, the reduction in screen
size adds a bit to the crispness.

It would
have been nice, though, if there were at least one or two additional bonus
features, since this is a landmark film with a worldwide impact. Why not just
hook up a few animation experts and/or artists at Macs and let them do an audio
commentary. It may not sound like a studio recording, but as Mary Poppins said,
“Enough is as good as a feast.”

 

But what
the hey, Spirited Away is finally on
Blu-ray
, along with the lesser-known—and thus underheralded—The Cat Returns, a fantasy film that
connects with its more earthbound sister feature, Whispers of the Heart.

The Cat Returns is an excellent companion to Spirited Away, as they are both
Alice-in-Wonderland-like excursions into bizarre worlds with their own rules
and logic. Both have female leads who, unlike dear Alice, experience definite
arcs of character and capability. The Cat
Returns
is a lighter film overall, delivering belly laughs. While there is
humor in Spirited Away, the stakes
seem higher and the obstacles more formidable.

 

Watching
Ghibli films is revelatory, no matter how many times they’re watched. If
anything, these two new Blu-rays are an excuse to enjoy the films again, if you
haven’t already. And if you prefer dubbed to subtitled versions or vice-versa,
try switching it out. In addition to some changes in dialogue, the differing
techniques of the actors transform the characters.

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