16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic in HD.,
This review is from: Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)At last, Optimum Asia are following up with UK releases after Ghibli release them one at a time in Japan. Although Ponyo is already available on Blu-ray here, this is the first of the older Ghibli archive films to arrive on the superior HD format.
At first I had no intentions of upgrading my Ghibli DVD's as I believed that 2D animation couldn't benefit all that much from HD. Well after buying Ponyo on double play Blu-ray/DVD and watching in HD, I realised how wrong I was. I now had both formats to compare side by side. Oh what a revelation that was.
So after seeing Ponyo in HD, and seeing that Optimum had released Nausicaa on Blu-Ray, it was a natural decision to purchase this. And I'm pleased to report that this disc also shows the same leap in quality over its DVD counterpart.
Apart from the obvious leaps in detail over DVD, there are no visible compression artefacts whatsoever. The film's very subtle grain structure has been lessened somewhat, so DNR was obviously used for the UK print - but in animation I don't believe this to be a bad thing. In live action films, grain is a part of the experience, but to get to something closer to the original Ghibli drawings, I can see they'd have to apply DNR. Colour and contrast levels are fine, although there is a very subtle warm hue, similar to what was reported on the Japanese Nausicaa Blu-ray. This is less like a "red tint", as some were saying about the Japanese transfer, and is more like a slightly warm tone. This slight warm tone is nothing near as bad as the transfer of Spirited Away on DVD, for example, which was plagued with a VERY strong, totally unnatural red tint. So nothing to worry too much about about in my eyes. Also, I found setting my TV's picture settings to the pre-set named 'Cool' went some way to correct it, and brought more natural skin tones back to the characters. In comparison to the Japanese Blu-ray, I guess it's a case of horses for courses. If you want grain in your animation, pay £50+ and import the Japanese disc. If you want a very clean, vibrant print that looks far more modern, get this UK one. I won't tell you which is right or wrong as there simply ISN'T a right or wrong decision to be made. It's whatever you prefer. All I can say is that I myself prefer the clean, vibrant look of the UK Blu-ray. Which also suits my pocket a LOT more, as luck would have it.
The only real downer is that they have not remastered the audio in surround sound. So only Lossless PCM 2.0 here (in both Japanese and English, amongst others)...which, although it sounds FAR better to the DVD 2.0 track, was a let-down. However, it wasn't Ghibli's fault. Apparently they DID attempt to get a decent surround field from the master but failed, so rather than offer us a gimicky 'All New Surround Sound' selling point that sounded awful, they instead gave us the best quality lossless version of the original audio track. I find this a very respectful treatment to a much loved film and appreciate their reasons. Apparently Miyazaki himself was not at all big on messing around with it too much, or so I have read on the forums discussing the HD mastering.
Optimum have thankfully expanded upon the DVD's minimal extras, so now the special features are as follows:
Audio commentary with Key Animation consultant and Assistant Director.
Interview with Toshio Suzuki & Anno Hideaki (44mins).
The birth of Studio Ghibli (27mins).
Behind the microphone (7mins).
Original Japanese theatrical trailers.
Studio Ghibli collection trailers.
All in all a HUGE improvement over the DVD release and a no brainer for Ghibli fans with a Blu-Ray player or PS3 and a HDTV. I can't wait for the rest of the Ghibli catalogue to be released. I'm simply salivating at the prospect of Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke in particular. My pocket is also grateful that these will come to us one at a time, as it makes the upgrade from DVD that much more manageable financially. I have heard that Laputa Castle in the Sky will be next on Blu-ray, and judging from the release date Amazon Japan have for the Japanese version, we should get it some time in the spring (going off the time between the Japanese and UK versions of Nausicaa.) Following those, Whisper of the Heart and My Neighbours the Yamadas are said to be next. It's a totally bizarre and haphazard release strategy that makes very little sense to me (doesn't follow any rational chronology), but I'll take them any way I can get them.