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.

more manga and anime notes

I’m still on my manga and anime kick. I mentioned last week that I might start reading Oh My Goddess! again, and I did do that. I reread the first volume, and read the second and third. I don’t have the fourth or fifth volumes. (I have about half of the first twenty volumes, pretty much randomly selected, that I picked up on sale at a con at some point in the past.) I haven’t decided if I want to just read the rest of volumes I own, skipping the others, or if I want to fill in the missing volumes and read all of the first twenty. While there is some continuity to follow, I think I could probably just read the volumes I own, and still manage to enjoy it without getting too confused or lost. While I am enjoying Oh My Goddess!, I’m looking at it mostly as a mildly pleasant diversion, and not as an epic story that I need to read, beginning to end.

I’ve realized that, if I want to read the whole series, it might be a little complicated to acquire. All of the volumes that I own are from Dark Horse’s original run, from the late 90s and early 2000s. They were printed left-to-right, and were broken into volumes differently from the original Japanese volumes. Those are all out of print. They reprinted them all starting around 2005, but this time in right-to-left format, and broken into volumes the same way as the originals. Those are still in print. So, if I pick up any of the new volumes, I’ll be missing some chapters and I’ll have duplicates of others. And I’ll be switching back and forth between left-to-right and right-to-left format, depending on what I’m reading.

I also made the mistake of searching for info on the creator of the series, Kōsuke Fujishima. It turns out that he married a 20-year-old cosplayer a few years ago. (He was 51 at the time.) So, not nearly as bad as the Rurouni Kenshin guy, but still kind of questionable.

And speaking of anime and manga creators, I just started watching a documentary series called 10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki. This series follows him through the creation of the Ponyo movie. It’s quite interesting to see his creative process, which seems to be fueled mostly be chain-smoking and self-doubt. (So, hey, if Miyazaki suffers from something like imposter’s syndrome, it’s cool if I do too, right?)

I’ve also been continuing to watch the special features on my Full Metal Panic: TSR DVDs. There are videos from the creators’ trip to Hong Kong on every disc. They’re not that exciting, really, but they’re kind of interesting. They wandered around somewhat randomly in Hong Kong and got a lot of video. Given the current situation in Hong Kong, it’s interesting to see what the city was like back in the early 2000s, not that long after the handover, really. There are also commentary tracks for every episode, done by various voice actors from the series. The audio is in Japanese, of course, so I have to follow them via subtitles, but they’re fun to listen to. I’ve listened to American voice actors on a whole bunch of commentary tracks (Simpsons, Futurama, etc.), but I don’t think I’d ever listened to a commentary track from Japanese voice actors.

pulling together some anime and manga threads

There are a few stray threads rattling around in my head that I’ve been meaning to gather together into a blog post. I got one or two into this morning’s post about Full Metal Panic, but it didn’t make sense to pull any of the other threads into that particular post.

First thing: I’ve been relying on my Sony PS3 as a DVD/Blu-ray player for, let’s see… eleven years now, apparently. It has always been pretty noisy, and has gotten more so as it has gotten older. (And it’s particularly bad on hot days.) One of my rationales for buying an Xbox One was that it would probably be a better, quieter, DVD/Blu-ray player than the PS3. I still haven’t gotten around to buying a media remote for the Xbox though, so I’ve continued to use the PS3 for playing discs. But I think I may have finally driven it over the edge this weekend. After watching an hour or so of the first disc of FMP: TSR, I took a break, then when I came back and tried to pick up where I’d left off, I found that the PS3 wouldn’t recognize the disc anymore. I didn’t try to do much troubleshooting. I just switched over to the Xbox, and it worked fine. (And there’s no fan noise on the Xbox!) The regular Xbox controller doesn’t make a very good media remote, but it’s workable, once you’ve read the support article telling you what all the buttons do. I’m probably still going to want to buy a media remote at some point, but I’m not in a hurry.

As for the PS3, I’ll give the drive another try at some point and see if it’s fried or if it just overheated yesterday. I’m not sure what I’ll do if it’s fried. Maybe it’s time to give up on the PS3. (But I have so many games I haven’t gotten around to playing yet, and the PS4 isn’t backward compatible with PS3 discs. Oh well.)

Second thread: I mentioned the “hedgehog’s dilemma” in my post about Neon Genesis Evangelion a couple of months ago. I saw this week that Felicity Ward has a comedy show about the hedgehog’s dilemma that is available for download here. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’ve liked her appearances on The Bugle, so I’m curious about it.

Third thread: I just finished reading the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series. I’ve had the original black & white books in my reading pile since 2010, and just decided to read them now, as a break from War and Peace. I liked them a lot. I saw an article about a fifteenth anniversary party for the Scott Pilgrim books on Twitter yesterday, so that’s another (slightly) weird coincidence. I think you could probably get a decent essay out of the idea of applying the hedgehog’s dilemma to Scott Pilgrim. Out of curiosity, I searched for “Scott Pilgrim hedgehog” and found an academic paper that matched those terms, but the reference was to Sonic the Hedgehog.

Fourth thread: I’ve now succeeded in selling off all of my Ai Yori Aoshi manga and most of my Rurouni Kenshin manga on eBay. I still have nine items listed on eBay that haven’t sold. I’m just letting them automatically relist every week, with lower prices. I guess if they don’t sell, then at some point I’ll give up and put them aside for a library sale donation or something. I have more books I’d like to put up on eBay, but I don’t really want to do the work right now.

And I’m resisting the urge to buy more manga on eBay. I noticed somebody selling the Full Metal Panic manga, all nine volumes, for $36. That’s kind of tempting. And it’s out of print in the US, so I can’t get it digitally. That’s the problem with selling stuff on eBay; I always start straying off into looking at other people’s auctions, then I wind up buying more stuff!

Anyway, I think my next manga series might have to be Oh My Goddess. I’ve read three of those, and have nine that I haven’t read yet. Of course, there are another 6 or 7 that I don’t own, so I’ll eventually end up back on eBay… And now that I’m looking at it on Wikipedia and Goodreads, I realize that there are a lot more volumes of OMG than I thought there were. I was only looking at the first twenty volumes, but there are actually 48 total. Well, I assume I’ll get tired of it after twenty, but who knows? At least OMG is available digitally.

Full Metal Panic

I found myself in the mood for anime again recently, so I picked something out of my anime DVD pile and started watching. I started with Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, about a week ago. I finished that up yesterday, and started into Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid. I’d watched the original Full Metal Panic series quite some time ago, and liked it enough to buy Fumoffu and TSR, but then never got around to watching them. I’m not sure when I bought Fumoffu, but I know I bought the first TSR DVD in 2008, since I left the receipt in the DVD case.

After watching a bit of Fumoffu, I took a look at the Wikipedia page for it, and realized that it was produced by Kyoto Animation, the studio where that arson attack happened last month. From the Wikipedia page, it appears that Fumoffu might have actually been the very first series they produced.

I wasn’t really familiar with Kyoto Animation, prior to reading about the arson. It looks like they’d been around since the 80s, but only started acting as the “main producer” on stuff in 2003. Reading up on them, it sounds like they’re a pretty cool company, which only makes the arson thing all the more heartbreaking.

Both Fumoffu and TSR were directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto, who died in that attack. The first DVD of the TSR series has a couple of special features on it, showing a few of the creators of the series, including Takemoto, doing some background research for it, going to a demonstration of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and on a trip to Hong Kong. Those were fun to watch, but now that I know what happened to Takemoto, I’m feeling pretty melancholy about it.

I started out watching this stuff purely as goofy escapism, but now it all seems a lot heavier. I’m still going to finish watching TSR, and I’m sure it’ll still make me laugh, but lately it doesn’t seem like I can enjoy anything as pure escapism anymore. The real world always intrudes somehow.

As an aside, Fumoffu and TSR are both available to watch for free on YouTube, as is the first series. These appear to be legitimately posted by Funimation. I’m not sure why they’re available for free. Maybe they put older stuff on YouTube to get people interested enough to pay for newer stuff? Regardless, it’s cool that you can watch this stuff for free if you want to.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

A lot of Evangelion references have been cropping up in my Twitter feed lately, and I (initially) wasn’t sure why. Well, it’s because Netflix just added it, and that’s kind of a big deal, because it hasn’t been (legally) available in the US since 2009 or thereabouts. I have the series on DVD, and finished watching it in 2003. (It originally came out, in Japan, in 1995.) I’ve occasionally thought about doing a re-watch, but have never gotten around to it. Nor have I gotten around to buying and/or watching any of the follow-up movies.

Maybe I should re-watch it on Netflix now. I just read a few of the recent articles about it, and I’m kind of curious what I’d think about it, at this point in my life. Would it make more sense? Less sense? Would it seem smarter? Dumber? Prescient? Outdated? I don’t know.

Here are some links to a few of the more interesting or useful articles I found:

  • Polygon has an article on the right way to watch the series. (In a nutshell: watch the original series. Don’t try to start with the movies.)
  • Quartz has an article that’s mostly about how the series resonates today: “Neon Genesis Evangelion is a classic 1995 Japanese animated series that takes place in a future that is already our past, the year 2015. Yet it has never been more relevant.”
  • The New Yorker has a short article that talks a bit about the theme of the man/machine relationship in Evangelion. (If you told me in 2003 that someday I’d be reading a serious article about Evangelion in the New Yorker, I would not have believed you.)
  • The Verge has an article calling Evangelion the “perfect story for this moment in history.” It talks a bit about the theme of “the Hedgehog’s Dilemma” and ties it to our current social/political climate. It’s a pretty smart take on the show, I think.
  • Finally, Polygon has a really great long article by Aaron Stewart-Ahn that goes into the history of the show, specifically in relation to Hideaki Anno’s “lifelong struggles with depression and alienation.” This one is definitely worth reading.

I have so much other stuff on my “want to watch” list that it probably doesn’t make sense for me to re-watch Evangelion right now, but I’m really tempted. I’ve been in the kind of mood lately where watching something like Eva might be either a very good or very bad idea. I’m not sure.

Rurouni Kenshin and other problematic entertainment

So I mentioned in my post earlier today that I was thinking about getting back into reading some manga, and maybe finishing Rurouni Kenshin, though I was having mixed feelings about that, due to the creator’s arrest for possessing child porn. Well, I did some soul-searching on that. (And by soul-searching, I mostly mean that I checked reddit’s r/manga, r/anime, and r/rurounikenshin sub-reddits for other people’s opinions.) I decided that, since I already own all 28 volumes, and have already read the first 19, it won’t do any harm to read the rest and see how the story ends. And also that maybe I should make a donation to The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. (I don’t want to imply that making a donation to a related cause “evens things out” in any way, but it helps, I guess.)

I’ve already gotten rid of the first 19 volumes of the Kenshin manga. I either included them with the big donation I made to Superheroes for Hospice in 2015, or to a more recent donation for a library sale. I’m not sure. Once I’m done reading the rest, I’ll probably donate those too, though I’m not sure how I’ll do that. (Or maybe I’ll sell them on eBay and donate the money.) Either way, once I’m done with them, I think that’ll be it for me and Kenshin.

I’ve been a fan of Kenshin for a long time. I just checked my Amazon order history, and I bought the Samurai X: Trust DVD back in January 2001. And I see that I was watching the regular anime series on Cartoon Network in 2003. (I’m pretty sure that I managed to watch the whole series, or at least all the episodes that aired on CN.) For the manga, I was buying it as it was being released by Viz starting in 2003 and running through 2006. I was reading it regularly for awhile, but fell behind, and then abandoned it at some point (along with a lot of other manga and anime that I was buying). But for a long time, Rurouni Kenshin was one of my favorite things.

In the wake of all the scandals that have plagued Hollywood since the Harvey Weinstein story came out, I’ve seen a few articles wrestling with the question of whether or not it’s still OK to watch Kevin Spacey movies or Louis C.K. comedy specials or Charlie Rose interviews. It’s pretty easy for me to answer “no” on all of those, since I wasn’t that big of fan of any of those guys to begin with. But figuring out what to do with Nobuhiro Watsuki’s work is a lot harder. I guess that finishing up the manga volumes I already own is OK, but after that, I should put it behind me and move on to something else. (Sigh.)

(And yes, as a disclaimer, I should say that I realize that I’m just agonizing over mindless entertainment, and my problems here don’t compare in any way to the problems of abused or harassed women, or abused children. “First world problems” and all that. I just felt like this was something I had to think through, write up, and get out of my head.)



There’s an interesting article on the NewsHour site about anime’s absence from the Oscars this year. It mentions the movie Your Name, which I’ve heard a lot about, but haven’t had a chance to see. (As far as I can tell, it was only released for a short run in 2016 in the US, to qualify for the Oscars and won’t get a “real” release until April.) I don’t know much about the director, Makoto Shinkai, but he seems to be well-regarded, so maybe I should hunt down some of his older movies.

I’ve been getting interested in anime again lately. This week, I watched the first three parts of Ghost in the Shell: Arise on Netflix. It’s not nearly as good as the GITS: Stand Alone Complex series, but it’s not bad. And I really liked the music, some (or all) of which is by Cornelius. There’s even one song which, apparently, is a collaboration between Cornelius and Sean Lennon. It seems like only those first three parts of Arise are available on Netflix, so now I need to decide if I want to buy the rest on Blu-Ray from Amazon, or maybe from iTunes. The series is a bit confusing, just in terms of the way it was released. Wikipedia does a (relatively) good job of explaining it. There are five main episodes, each about an hour long. In the US, they’ve been released on Blu-Ray as Borders 1 & 2 and Borders 3 & 4. (I’m not quite sure about the fifth episode, “Pyrophoric Cult”.) There is also something called The New Movie, which completes the series (I think). Those episodes/movies have also been re-edited into an anime TV series, with typical 30-minute episodes. That TV series is available on iTunes.

All of this leads me to think that I should maybe dive back into my old pile of unwatched anime DVDs.

anime and manga companies

With my inexplicable renewed interest in anime and manga, I’ve been doing some digging on the internet, and finding that some of the most popular web sites, periodicals, and anime/manga companies from back when I was really into this stuff have disappeared. I’d already heard about most of this, in passing, but hadn’t ever sat down and realized how much had changed over the last 5 or so years.

Tokyopop (mostly) shut down in 2011, and has been going through a bunch of drama since then.

ADV shut down in 2009, apparently, but might be coming back?

One of my old favorite web sites for anime reviews, AnimeOnDVD.com, was sold off in 2008, but the founder went to the new company. Then, the founder left that company in 2011, and started a new site. (And the new site looks pretty good!)

AnimeNewsNetwork.com is still around and mostly unchanged, though. (Obviously they had a redesign at some point, but not a drastic and/or horrible one.)

Newtype USA went away in 2008, to be replaced by something else that didn’t last long. Now, it appears that Otaku USA is the only US-based anime magazine left standing. (Which, I guess, isn’t surprising, since the magazine industry as a whole isn’t exactly thriving.)

Crunchyroll seems to be doing well, and has developed into a pretty impressive “Netflix for anime” site. I’m tempted to sign up for it, but there’s plenty of anime on the real Netflix that I haven’t watched yet.

I’m currently working my way through Big O season two, by the way, having watched the first season last year. I acquired the DVD set for this via eBay, and it may not be quite, shall we say, kosher. But it doesn’t appear that anyone is currently selling an official US version of Big O, so eBay was the best I could do.

Too much anime, again

I decided today to make a list of all the anime DVDs and Blu-Rays that I own but have not yet watched. I have DVDs and Blu-Rays scattered around the apartment in several places, with no real system, but I have a general idea as to where most of them are. I just went through them all (well, most of them) and made up a list in Evernote.

My list contains 16 entries, which doesn’t sound too bad, until you realize that most of them are series with 4 to 8 DVDs. And a number of the items on this list from 2006 are still unwatched, which is kind of silly.

I’m kind of in an anime mood right now, so maybe I’ll start watching some of this stuff again. But, then again, watching too much TV might raise my risk of Alzheimer’s. I wonder if that would apply to subtitled anime, though. It seems like that would stimulate the brain in a similar way as reading a book. (At least to a certain extent.)


I just finished reading the sixth (final) volume of Akira. I read volumes 1-3 quite some time ago, and decided to read 4-6 just recently. I’m not sure why I waited so long between 3 and 4. (Volume 3 was a good breaking point though.)

I find myself wondering if there’s some really deep meaning to Akira that I’m missing. There’s definitely a lot going on, and I’ve seen various people drawing out various themes and metaphors from it. I stumbled across this video today, which doesn’t really get into the deep stuff, but does do a good job of summing up the narrative of the manga vs the anime.

And finally finishing Akira makes me think back and realize how long it’s been a part of my life. I first read Akira via the Marvel/Epic color series, from the late 80s and early 90s. I didn’t read the whole series, and I don’t remember exactly when I stopped buying it. But it was definitely the first major manga I ever read.

I can’t quite remember the first time I saw the Akira film either, but I distinctly remember buying a pirated version of it on VHS back in the early 90s, at a comics convention. (I know I’d seen it before then, but I’m not sure where. I don’t think I could have seen it when I was in college, since it wasn’t released until after I graduated.) Either way, I’m pretty sure that it was the first anime movie I’d ever seen. (At some point, not too many years ago, I bought it on DVD, and have watched it at least once; I think it’s due for a repeat viewing soon!)

I bought the six Dark Horse black & white volumes a few years ago, at a con, probably San Diego or WonderCon. I’m pretty sure I got them out of somebody’s discount box, possibly TFAW‘s. (I’ve gotten some good deals from them.)

I gave the first three volumes, and the Marvel/Epic issues, over to Superheroes for Hospice, when I donated most of my collection earlier this year. I’ll likely donate volumes 4-6 next year, assuming I can talk myself into going through the piles again and donating a few more boxes.

I thought it might be cool to have a digital version of the Akira manga to maybe reread at some point, but it’s not available on the Dark Horse site or on Comixology. (Apparently, Kodansha now has the license for the manga, not Dark Horse, and I don’t see any sign that they’ve made it available digitally.)

Now that I’ve finished Akira, I have no idea what to read next, but I have a few things in mind. I never did get around to finishing the Rurouni Kenshin manga; I have several volumes of that series gathering dust. And I have a random sampling of Oh My Goddess! volumes waiting to be read. That would make for a nice change of pace from Akira!