NYCC, anime, and pizza

NYCC

Newsarama has an article with some additional information on last week’s NYCC ticket sale. As I posted then, I got tickets for Thursday and Sunday. The Newsarama article confirms that they did, eventually, sell out of all tickets. The article also addresses one topic I’m very curious about: “ReedPop […] confirmed they have a reduced capacity this year due to COVID-19 precautions but did not give out the exact number of badges sold.” I’ve really been curious about whether or not they’re making a meaningful attempt to reduce crowding this year, or if this is just a token gesture to ease people’s fears. There are really two numbers that matter: to what extent did they limit ticket sales, and to what extent are they going to increase (or decrease) the amount of floor space they take up? The Javits Center expansion is apparently done now, so, theoretically, NYCC could spread out over a larger space and limit attendance, which could make for a nice experience. But who knows if they’ll actually do that. I haven’t read anything from NYCC about whether or not they’ll be using the entire expanded Javits Center.

I still haven’t quite decided on my plans for the con. I might just take the train in on Thursday and Sunday. But I’d really like to book a hotel room for the full four days, and use Friday and Saturday for museum visits and other NYC stuff. I should probably start looking at hotel prices now. It I book a hotel though, that makes it harder to back out if I decide that the situation in NYC isn’t safe enough, come October.

Anime

I decided to dip into my dusty stack of unwatched anime DVDs last night. I picked out Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey, which I bought in 2006. I got a sense of déjà vu while watching the first couple of episodes. I was pretty sure I’d seen them before, so I checked this blog, and yes, I saw them at Wizard World Philly in 2004. It’s funny how I can piece together stuff like this from my blog, email archives, and Evernote. I watched the first three (of four) DVDs. I guess I’ll watch the last one later today. I also ordered a pizza last night, which I rarely do these days. There was a big storm last night, so pizza and anime made for a nice cozy evening.

I’ve probably blogged about this before, but it’s interesting to see how some of the anime DVDs I bought back in the early 2000s at clearance prices are now out of print and selling for (relatively) big bucks. I see the full set of Captain Herlock DVDs selling on eBay for $250 right now. (It’s a fun show, but I don’t think I’d ever pay $250 for it.)

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

I mentioned Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 in my last post. I just finished watching the first season, so I thought I’d write a little blog post about it.

It’s an enjoyable enough series, but it definitely has a lot of flaws. The animation is pretty bad CG work, so it looks more like a video game than a real anime show. The script seems pretty clunky at times too. I’m not sure if that’s bad writing, or bad translation, or some combination. The original (English language) voice cast from SAC is back for this, so that’s the one saving grace. They did a good job on the original SAC series, and they do well here too, though sometimes they don’t have much to work with. The story is all over the place, but there are some interesting ideas in it. It’s definitely more ambitious than it needs to be. (I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.) There’s a tie-in with Orwell’s 1984 that comes up at one point, though we don’t really see that play out.

The season ends on a cliffhanger. I’m pretty sure that a second season is in the works, and I’ll be interested to see where they go with this. I kind of hope they wrap things up in season 2, though. I don’t really want to see more of this CG version of the GITS story.

It occurs to me that I’ve been watching/reading GITS stuff for quite a while now. I mentioned the second season of SAC back in 2008, and the Arise series in 2017. I’m not sure when I first saw the first movie, or read any of the comics. I wasn’t keeping track of things back then, the way I do now.

Anyway, I have a lot more anime to watch. I guess that’s a recurring theme on this blog. I’m a little interested in Demon Slayer right now, since the new movie has gotten a lot of good press and was wildly popular when it came out in Japan last year. It’s not really a standalone movie, though, so I guess I’d need to watch the TV series first (which is streaming on Netflix right now). The NY Times has an article explaining all this. I probably shouldn’t jump into another new show like this right now though. I have way too much TV to watch. (And books to read, and comics to read, and so on. Which is another recurring theme on this blog…)

Ghost in the Shell – Heart Grenade

I mentioned a while back about how I couldn’t locate the song “Heart Grenade” on Apple Music. I found it today, on a collection called Ghost In The Shell Superb Music, which was released in January. I’m going to try to embed the song below.

The full “Superb” collection seems to be a 5-CD set in a metal can. Pretty cool. The version in Apple Music is missing a bunch of tracks, but that’s fine. The part of my brain that was never going to be happy until “Heart Grenade” was in my iTunes library is now satisfied.

And all this reminds me that I still haven’t gotten around to watching the Netflix GITS show, Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but I liked the earlier SAC stuff, so I’ll probably like this one too.

Nor have I watched the 25th anniversary edition of the original Ghost in the Shell movie that I got on Blu-Ray a while back (SteelBook 4K Ultra HD version, of course).

(So much to watch and so little time…)

Where I’m Calling From

I’ve had a lot of thoughts banging around in my head lately that I’ve wanted to write up as blog posts, but I haven’t had the time. I’ve also been ruminating on ways to link some ideas together into a theme that would make for a clever post. Nothing has really come together quite right though. This morning, I started going through that exercise again, while doing laundry, and the title of my favorite Raymond Carver story, Where I’m Calling From, popped into my head, so I thought I’d use that as a title, just start writing, and see where things went. (To be clear, this post has nothing to do with alcohol. I haven’t really been drinking at all over the last year. The link is more to the general idea of evaluating where I am right now.)

I’ve been very aware of this month being the one-year anniversary of the pandemic lockdown. That was the subject of my last post, from a couple of weeks ago. And I guess it’s going to be the starting point for this post too.

I’m almost exactly a year behind in my email “read/review” folder, where I file all of my email newsletters, so I’m just now reading some articles about the start of the lockdown. At the start of 2021, I briefly considered simply wiping out all of 2020 from the folder and starting fresh, but I didn’t do that. I’m definitely tired of reading about Trump, and there’s not much point in reading articles about the Democratic primaries, so I’m skipping those. But it’s interesting to read (or at least skim) some of the early articles about coronavirus, with the benefit of hindsight. A few people definitely saw what was coming, but most people didn’t. I’m reading stuff from early March, where people were still assuming that 2020 would progress normally, with little or no disruption to international travel, movie theaters, comic book conventions, and so on.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to write up some thoughts on various sub-topics, under individual headings. I’m not sure yet if this is all going to come together, or just be random, but here goes…

Movies

The last movie I saw in a theater was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, at the end of December 2019. I had been planning to see Pixar’s Onward in a theater, but hadn’t gotten around to it when the pandemic shut everything down. Movie theaters in NJ were allowed to reopen in September, though many are still closed, apparently. Movie theaters in NYC are only just now being allowed to reopen. I’m on the mailing list for Film at Lincoln Center and Film Forum, both of which are reopening in April. I can’t see myself going into NYC to see a movie any time soon though. Over the course of the last year, I’ve had good intentions about watching a film or two from the virtual cinema selections that these NYC theaters have provided. But I didn’t get around to watching even one. Meanwhile, though, I watched a bunch of movies on the various streaming services to which I subscribe, and have also bought a bunch of Blu-rays, some of which I’ve watched. There’s a good overview of the NYC movie theater situation here. That article also gets into the overall situation for movie theaters right now. For me, I guess I’m going to stick to streaming and Blu-rays for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of Blu-rays, I may have gone a bit overboard with them over the last year. (I mean, I haven’t gone too far overboard, but I did buy a bunch.) Near the start of the pandemic, I picked up a box set of all four Avengers movies. And I’ve picked up the Steelbook Blu-rays for eight Ghibli films. and the big Criterion Godzilla box set. I’ve watched all four of the Avengers Blu-rays (including most of the special features). But I haven’t watched even one of the Ghibli or Godzilla films yet. (Or course, I’ve seen nearly all of them before, but not recently.)

Comic Book Conventions

WonderCon@Home is being held this weekend. I watched a few of the panels from last year’s virtual WonderCon, and it was kind of fun, but these virtual cons pale in comparison to the real thing. I last went to WonderCon in 2019. In retrospect, I’m really glad I went. That was the first time I’d gone to the con since they’d moved it to Anaheim. And it was the first time I’d been in Anaheim in many years. After that con, I’d fully intended to go back in 2020, and maybe make WonderCon an annual thing for me again. (I went to WonderCon regularly for a few years when it was in San Francisco. Looking back, I guess that was 2005-2008.) When the 2020 con was canceled, I think most folks assumed that things would be back to normal in 2021, and the virtual con would be a one-time thing. This year, we’re all hoping that the vaccine rollout will go great, and we’ll be back to normal for 2022. Honestly, I’m really hoping for that, but I’m not making any plans yet.

Anyway, I intend to watch a few of the panels for this year’s virtual con. I definitely want to watch all three of Mark Evanier’s panels. And there are probably a few other good ones. I should probably try to visit the virtual exhibition hall, but I haven’t had much luck with those, from the last few virtual cons I’ve “attended.” They’ve generally been poorly organized and underwhelming. But I’ll take a look.

The San Diego con has also been canceled for this year. They’ll do a virtual con again, in July, and they’re planning on doing some kind of in-person con in November. I wish them luck with that, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be making it out to any San Diego con, any time soon. Meanwhile, the San Diego Convention Center, which had been used as a homeless shelter earlier in the pandemic, is now being used to house migrant children, apparently.

Comic Books

This isn’t really directly pandemic-related, but I’ve finally stopped ordering monthly comics through Westfield. My last order was in February, so I’ll probably get my last few books from them in April or May. I’m way behind in my reading, and there’s not a lot of new stuff coming out that I’m really excited about, so I guess it’s a good time to jump off the wagon again.

I’ve been keeping an eye on all the recent changes in the comic book industry, and a lot of that is kind of weird and a little scary. The latest thing is Marvel moving to Penguin Random House for distribution. I could really go down a rabbit hole on the subject of the many changes at Marvel and DC, and generally in the direct market, over the last year, but that’s probably not a great use of my time. For me, personally, I have a good supply of comics and graphic novels to read over the next year or two, in both physical and digital formats, so I should just be happy with that, and wish everyone who makes their living creating and/or selling comics the best of luck. I could probably go through the rest of 2021 without buying another comic, and I’d be fine. (But, of course, I won’t do that. I’m sure to be tempted into buying at least a handful of new books.)

Summary

Well, that covers a few of the things that were rattling around in my head. I have quite a few that I didn’t get around to here, but they’ll have to wait for another day. It’s almost 11 AM and I haven’t done much with the day yet (aside from laundry). I need to get some exercise, and pay some bills, and stuff like that.

still fiddling with Apple Music

I spent some more time today fiddling with Apple Music. (I may have even let myself get a little too distracted from work today. I’ll have to be more careful tomorrow.)

I noticed this article on MacRumors, about Disney adding some new content to Apple Music. And I remembered that I’d added the Legacy Collection version of the Fantasia soundtrack to my Amazon wish list some time ago. It’s a 4 CD version of the soundtrack. It’s actually not that expensive, only $20 from Amazon, but I’d never gotten around to ordering it. So I checked Apple Music, and it’s up there. So I started my work day listening to that.

Later, I started messing around a bit with the idea of replacing some old purchased and matched tracks with higher bitrate versions from Apple. I’d read this article some time ago, and found it again today, and thought it’d be fun to try it out. My first attempt was a bust. I had purchased the original version of the Allman Brothers At Fillmore East album years ago, from iTunes. So the files on my hard drive were .m4p files, encoded at a relatively low bitrate. So my hope was that I could replace them with 256k .m4a files. Long story short, I managed to accidentally delete them from my library, rather than just from my hard drive, and that apparently removes even the entry for the album in your purchase history. So that didn’t work out so well. But I had the original files backed up, so I just put them back. Meanwhile, I looked around in Apple Music, and I see that there’s a 2 CD deluxe edition, and a 6 CD super deluxe edition too. So I added the 2 CD version to my library and decided not to worry about the old one. (I might look at the 6 CD version at some point, but I don’t really need six hours of Allman Brothers right now.)

My second try worked out a bit better. I had an old Afro Celt Sound System album that I’d ripped a long time ago, at a low bitrate. All the songs on it had matched, so I went ahead and deleted them (from my drive this time, and not from my library), and re-downloaded them. Now I have a good 256k, DRM-free, version of it. I might have some more albums I could try that on, but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.

One more thing I messed around with today was poking through my old iTunes wish list and seeing if anything on it was available in Apple Music. I hadn’t added anything to that wish list in a long time, but there were a few interesting things on there. One big one was Itzhak Perlman – The Complete Warner Recordings 1972 – 1980. I’m not even sure how many CDs that would be, but it’s 23 hours of music. And I see they also have his complete recordings for 1980 – 2002, which is another 44 hours of stuff! I didn’t add either of those to my library yet, but I’ve bookmarked them for the next time I’m on a big Itzhak Perlman kick.

And one very little thing I had on my wish list was the song Heart Grenade by Sean Lennon and Cornelius. It’s used over the end credits for the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Arise, and it’s just a great song. Unfortunately, while it’s available in iTunes to buy for $1.29, it’s not in Apple Music. I found that to be true for a few other oddball songs and albums I tried. Oh well, I guess you can’t get everything for $10/month. Anyway, when I want to listen to Heart Grenade, I can just find it on YouTube. Though maybe I should go ahead and shell out that $1.29.

So, yeah, I need to rein in my natural tendency to start poking around too much during the work day. Maybe I should listen to Ludovico Einaudi’s Seven Days Walking tomorrow, and just stick with that. That’s long enough to fill almost an entire work day, so if I can just commit to that, maybe I can avoid getting too distracted from work.

Con crud, NYCC, Picard, Apple Music, and other distractions

One of the good things about a virtual con is that it should be impossible to get the con crud when you don’t leave your apartment. But after NYCC last weekend, I woke up on Monday feeling pretty bad. I guess I caught a cold at some point over the weekend. I probably picked it up while out grocery shopping. So I was nursing a cold through the first half of the work week, and eventually gave up and took a half-day on Wednesday to rest. It seems like taking time off for a cold shouldn’t be necessary if you’re just working from home anyway, but taking an afternoon off to nap and listen to podcasts did help.

I may watch some panels from Baltimore Comic Con next weekend. They’re supposed to be streaming their panels live, unlike SDCC and NYCC, where most panels were prerecorded, and they have some interesting stuff on their schedule. Also, unlike SDCC and NYCC, nearly all of the panels are actually about comics books! (I’m not knocking SDCC or NYCC. They both did great jobs of putting on a fun virtual event on short notice.)

I’ve been continuing to overdo it on Picard, as I mentioned last weekend. I’ve now watched all the episodes of season one, all the Ready Room episodes, all of the extras on the Blu-ray discs, and listened to about half of the Greatest Discovery podcasts. I also watched the “Trek the Vote to Victory” Biden fundraiser event on Tuesday night, which was a lot of fun, and included a number of the Picard actors, including Patrick Stewart. I guess I’m almost done with Picard for now, though I may keep going through those podcasts. They’re enjoyable, though I’m falling behind in all my other podcasts.

In my continuing quest to lose myself in diverting entertainment, I watched Weathering With You last night. It was almost as good as Your Name, though I think the general consensus is that it’s not quite as good. (Your Name has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while Weathering With You has 91%.) For me, Makoto Shinkai still isn’t up there with Miyazaki or Satoshi Kon, but he’s pretty good. I have thoughts about Weathering With You, but they’re not terribly well-organized yet. In some ways, it follows a lot of pretty standard anime tropes, but it makes some really weird decisions along the way, and I’m not sure what kind of conclusions I should draw about those. I’m pretty sure that trying to analyze this movie too literally would be a mistake though.

And I’m continuing to play around with Apple Music. I think I’ve got my library in pretty good shape now. Everything on my PC and Mac has been either matched or uploaded. My iTunes/Music library now says that I’ve got 14,000 items taking up 95 GB. I guess that’s now showing the total size of everything in the cloud. I wish there was an easy way to see how much you have in the cloud vs local from within Music/iTunes, but you need to go into Finder/Explorer to do that. I still have about 44 GB on my Mac. At some point, I think I’ll start deleting stuff from my local library there, and just rely on streaming on the Mac. I’ll keep local copies of everything on my PC, in case I decide to discontinue Apple Music.

I spent a lot of time yesterday fiddling with my library, trying stuff out, and moving stuff around. I found that a lot of the stuff I bought via iTunes back in the early days confused Apple Music a bit. I had to delete some old files and replace them with new ones. And a bunch of files with weird characters in their file names needed to be cleaned up too. (Those might already have been broken, and I just hadn’t noticed before.)

Streaming from Apple Music to my Sonos works pretty well. I’m currently listening to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde on the Sonos, and it sounds pretty good. This is a version that I ripped from CD and that isn’t available in Apple Music, so I guess I’m just listening to my own ripped version, but streaming from Apple’s servers. I’m curious about how that stuff works. How many other Apple Music subscribers have ripped that particular CD set? Any, or is it just me? If so, does Apple keep all the individual rips, or do they just point to a common base set? If two people encode different rips of the same album, at different bit rates, can Apple tell that they’re the same work, and just keep whichever one is the best rip? If I were to re-rip some of my old stuff to lossless, then re-match it in Apple Music, would Apple keep and stream my lossless files? Or would that be pointless? I’m probably spending too much time overthinking this stuff.

The general theme of this blog post, and honestly about 90% of my recent blog posts, has been distraction and self-absorption, generally in stuff that doesn’t much matter. But I think that’s OK. I voted. I’m supporting charitable (and political) causes that I care about. I’m staying informed on current events. I’m wearing my mask. And I’m showing up to work every day and doing my best. If I want to spend my Sunday morning thinking about doing a lossless re-rip of all my opera CDs, that’s fine!

Sunday stuff, and Legend of Korra

After taking a sick day on Friday, I felt a lot better yesterday, but was still taking it pretty easy. I read some more Buffy comics, and also started watching The Legend of Korra on DVD. I thought I was even better this morning, but then had to cut my usual Sunday walk short because I started getting tired at around the 15-minute mark. So I guess today will also be mostly Buffy and Korra and hot tea and maybe a nap or two.

Avatar and Korra both started streaming on Netflix recently, so there’s been a surge of interest and popularity for both series. I’d watched Avatar some time ago, when it was streaming… somewhere. I don’t really remember. I know I didn’t watch it when it first aired, and I know I don’t have the DVD set. But I never got around to watching Korra. I got interested in it early this year, and bought the DVD set from Amazon. At the time, it wasn’t streaming anywhere that I had access to, and the DVD set was less than $20.

When Netflix got both shows, I started seeing a lot of references to them on the web, so that reminded me that I hadn’t gotten around to Korra yet, and now seemed like a good time to start watching it. Generally, there’s a dearth of new shows coming out right now, for obvious reasons, so there’s been a lot of articles and podcasts that are mining old ones. I listened to a Pop Culture Happy Hour episode on Avatar recently that was pretty good. I was going to link to a few more articles here, but one of them turned out to have a big spoiler in it for something I haven’t gotten to yet, so I think I’m going to avoid reading any more Korra articles until I’ve finished the series.

Anyway, I finished “book one” yesterday, and I’m really enjoying the series so far. It’s got a bit of a steampunk feel to it. Steampunk definitely had a peak at some point, maybe around the same time this was originally airing, so I might have rolled my eyes at it then, but now it seems kind of cool again. It’s kind of amazing what they did with this show, on what I assume must have been a fairly limited budget. I’m not sure how well it holds up over the next three seasons, but it’s well-respected enough that I assume it continues to be pretty good, at least.

six months

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we’re just hitting the six month mark on this whole COVID-19 thing here in the US. March 12 was my last day in the office. I took March 13 as a vacation day. Then, we started working from home on Monday, March 16. And my company is still working from home, with plans now to return to the office in November, with managers coming in two days a week and the rest of us coming in only one day a week. This is probably the fifth “return to office” plan we’ve had. The last one had us all returning in October, two days a week. I’m not complaining or criticizing; no one is having an easy time figuring this thing out, and I’m glad my employer hasn’t forced us to come back too early. But it seems like, through the whole pandemic, we’re always just about a month away from returning to “normal,” but we never quite get there. I’m only now really starting to see that, and thinking about things I could be doing differently, treating work from home as “normal” rather than “temporary”. So that’s all a lot of wind-up to say that I finally broke down and ordered a new USB headset for home use. (There’s still one sitting on my desk at work, but they haven’t allowed us to go back in and clean out our desks. I put in a request to do that, but I guess it’s stalled somewhere, since I haven’t gotten a response to it.)

I ordered the headset from Best Buy, since they had it in stock to ship right away, while Amazon still has a one-month wait on USB headsets, at least for the model I wanted. That turned out to be a bit dangerous, since it also led to me poking around in their Blu-ray selection, which led to me buying four Miyazaki SteelBook Blu-rays, plus the 25th Anniversary Ghost in the Shell Blu-ray SteelBook, and pre-ordering the Weathering With You Blu-ray SteelBook. I’m not particularly attached to SteelBooks, but they do look nice, and the Miyazaki ones were only $18 each. (Apparently, they’re also $18 at Amazon right now.) The Ghost in the Shell one was also only $18. Weathering With You was more expensive, but still reasonable. So now I have a bunch of new anime discs to watch. (Even though most of them are movies I’ve already seen multiple times.)

Yesterday, I watched a bit of DC FanDome and some of NCSFest. This second day of FanDome was done differently from the first day, last month, where they actually had a schedule, kind of like a real con. This time, they just dumped all the video content out there at 1 PM Eastern time, and left it up until 1 PM today. So you could watch whatever you want, whenever you want. The content was really a hodgepodge of random stuff. I’m pretty sure most of it was recorded at least a month ago. And there wasn’t really much content around the actual comic books. But I did watch a nice panel discussion with Brian Bendis, Gene Yang, and Dan Jurgens, talking about Superman. The feeling I’m getting out of DC Comics right now is that they’re really hitting the brakes on a lot of stuff and pulling back on things. I think that a lot of the FanDome content was prepared before the layoffs last month, so it’s not really reflecting the actual state of things at DC right now. I’m not really sure what DC is going to look like at the end of this year, but it’ll probably be a lot different from the way they looked at the beginning of this year, before Dan DiDio left, and COVID-19 hit, and all the layoffs happened.

NCSFest was done as one long live stream, via YouTube. They had a number of panels, interspersed with announcements of the Reuben awards. The whole nine-hour stream is available to watch on YouTube now. If you wanted to find a particular panel, I guess you could check the schedule, then do a little math and fast-forward to it. I watched a bit of the “From Panels to Publishing” panel, some of the Jim Davis panel, and some of the Mutts panel. All of them were fun to watch. Cartoonists are generally pretty cool, chill, funny people. NCS is really a professional organization, so the content isn’t necessarily geared towards fans, or towards self-promotion, more towards actual cartoonists. For me, that makes it even more fun. But if you don’t want to hear Lynn Johnston and Patrick McDonnell talking about what brand of ink they use, then it’s probably not for you.

I guess that’s my ramblings for today. There’s maybe not much value in any of this for anyone else, but writing these posts helps me get through things. Tomorrow starts another week of sitting alone in my apartment, staring at a computer screen, trying to do my job without going nuts. If random blogging about comics and anime helps, I’m going to keep doing it.

Streaming Ghibli

I blogged about Studio Ghibli (specifically Miyazaki) films back in August. I was thinking about trying to catch up on any Miyazaki films I hadn’t gotten around to seeing. I was surprised at the time to discover that none of them were available digitally in the US, either for sale or rent, or on one of the pay-per-month streaming services. Since then, I’ve watched a few, by the relatively old-school method of checking them out from my local library on DVD.

Just a few days ago, Otaku USA posted an article with the title “No Plans for Studio Ghibli Films to Hit Streaming Services,” so it looked like they were still holding out. Then yesterday I saw an article in the Times saying that the films will start streaming on the new HBO Max service starting some time next year. I guess that’s cool, if it allows more people to see great stuff like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. But I’d kind of liked that Ghibli was still holding out, and that you had to make at least a little effort to “find” their films. Once the films are on HBO Max, will we still have stuff like Ghibli Fest? Or the cool special edition Blu-Rays from GKids? (Eh, ignore me, I’m just a cranky old man. I’m sure GKids will be happy to keep selling Blu-Rays to weirdos like me. Or I can always hit eBay for used DVDs.)

Miyazaki DVDs and Blu-rays

I finished watching the last episode of 10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki last night. (I mentioned the series in my last post.) The first couple of episodes concentrated mostly on Ponyo. The last couple covered The Wind Rises, which is likely to be Miyazaki’s final film. They also covered From Up on Poppy Hill, directed by Miyazaki’s son Gorō Miyazaki. (The series spends some time on that father/son relationship. It’s a bit prickly.)

Anyway, watching this got me interested in watching some Ghibli films again, so I starting poking through my DVDs to see what I had. I was surprised to see that I apparently only own three Miyazaki films: Castle of Cagliostro, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke. I could have sworn I owned a copy of Spirited Away, but I can’t find it anywhere, nor can I find any indication in my email archives that I ever bought a copy. So I think I was mistaken there. And I also remember owning Kiki’s Delivery Service, but that might have been on VHS.

So now I’m thinking it might be a good idea to rectify that in some way. Back in 2015, there was a big Blu-ray set of The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki, available exclusively on Amazon, for $225. I probably should have bought it back then, since it’s going for $600 now. (It looks like it was a pretty nice set.)

Looking at the state of Ghibli/Miyazaki films in the US right now, I see that the rights for most of them moved from Disney to an outfit called GKIDS in 2017. I was vaguely aware of that already, but hadn’t bought any of their releases. I see that they have a number of films available right now, including an “anniversary edition” of My Neighbor Totoro and a “collector’s edition” of Princess Mononoke, both of which look pretty cool.

I’m kind of trying to cut down on my accumulation of physical media though, so I checked to see if any of this stuff was available to rent or buy digitally. I was surprised to see that none of it was available on iTunes, nor does any of the GKIDS stuff seem to available digitally at all. I found a bit of discussion related to that on reddit. I guess it makes sense, though it would be nice to be able to rent a few of the films I haven’t seen, but that I’m not interested in owning.

GKIDS and Fathom Events are still doing their Studio Ghibli Fest thing. Looking at the schedule for the rest of the year, they’re mostly doing one movie per month, generally near the end of the month. I could actually go see My Neighbor Totoro tomorrow night. But it’s a pain for me to do that kind of thing on a weeknight.

So it wasn’t looking like I was going to be able to catch up on Miyazaki films without spending a bunch of money on Blu-rays. But then I checked my local library system, and they have a bunch of Miyazaki DVDs, so maybe I’ll start checking them out of the library and watching them that way.