Blu-ray: My Neighbor Totoro (Disney)

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My Neighbor Totoro


English Blu-ray Title (Region A)

My Neighbor Totoro

Sound:

Japanese (2.0 Stereo), English (2.0 Stereo), French (2.0 Stereo)

Subtitles:
Length:
Release:
Company
:
Discs:
Aspect Ratio:

English, French
86 minutes
2013
Disney
2 (1 DVD)
1.85:1 Anamorphic

Movie:

My Neighbor Totoro

Blu-ray

Extras

  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (12)
  • Trailers: The Grave of the Fireflies/My Neighbor Totoro, My Neighbor Totoro, The Little Mermaid (Blu-ray), Monsters University, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, Disney Infinity, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Blu-ray)
  • Behind the Studio: Creating My Neighbor Totoro (3 minutes)
  • Behind the Studio: Creating the Characters (4 minutes)
  • Behind the Studio: The "Totoro" Experience (2 minutes)
  • Behind the Studio: Producer's Perspective - Creating Ghibli (1 minute)
  • Behind the Studio: The Location of "Totoro" (28 minutes)
  • Behind the Studio: Scoring Miyazaki (7 minutes)
  • Behind the Microphone (6 minutes)
  • Original Japanese Storyboards (86 minutes)

Captures


Review

By: Anthony Romero

Disney releases one of Japan's most famous films to Blu-ray with a presentation that's very faithful to the 1988 production. That includes a good video and audio track, preserving how the movie was originally released, while the set also includes a decent array of extras to look over as well.

It should be noted that this is a dual format release. Both a Blu-ray and a DVD are included. The DVD, though, is the first disc from the 2010 My Neighbor Totoro DVD set from Disney. Even the disc art and serial number on it is the same. As a result, this review will focus on the Blu-ray, while those who want to know about the DVD should read that review. This Blu-ray review will touch on the extras available on the DVD, though... or to be more precise, a lack there of.


 Video: Star Rating


Disney has done a great job with restoring the video for this Blu-ray release. This includes removing grain, which was present on the DVD release. Now grain isn't totally removed, there is still some noise, but it's much more faint than I have seen on previous releases. Furthermore, artifacts are nearly non-existent to the eye, owing to the added space on the medium and improvements in compression. That said, despite praise, the film does appear at times to be too dark, but rather it's the colors. In fact, the biggest complaint to be had is that the colors don't quite pop here. They look more muted, especially the whites which take on a more gray tone that gives the film that feeling that the brightness is too low. Granted, this is probably really close to how the film originally looked, but so many older films have been improved with more vibrant arrays that it feels out of place to see the more muted palette. In fact, the colors were more vibrant on the Fox My Neighbor Totoro DVD from 2002.

Similar to other Studio Ghibli titles from Disney, there are video tracks just for the opening and closing titles in English. These will be inserted and play instead of the Japanese ones if the viewer selects the English audio track from the setup menu. This is a good way to do it as it negates having to store the entire movie twice on the disc, which would soak up valuable space that should be reserved toward a better presentation of the film due to a higher bitrate.

My Neighbor Totoro is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

 

 Audio: Star Rating


This disc has three audio tracks and there will be two camps in terms of the presentation here. One side will be disappointed by the lack of a surround track. Something that, sadly, could have been really appealing during sequences such as when Totoro roars or the Cat Bus runs through the field. The other side will be thrilled that the Blu-ray contains a faithful reproduction of the original stereo presentation of the movie, which is extended toward the English and French tracks as well. As far as a stereo presentation goes too, this does a great job. The three tracks are presented in DTS-HD, a loseless format to avoid signs of compression. Dialogue is clear in the English and Japanese versions, and sounds normal in the overall mix. The French one doesn't fare quite as well, with the French dialogue sounding a little muddled at times, but nothing severe. All in all, it's a good audio presentation that is sure to please those looking for a faithful presentation of the original audio.

As a side note, the English track here is, naturally, the one that Disney created for the 2006 DVD. This has famous voice actors like Dakota Fanning and Tim Daly doing the vocals. It's overall a very good dub, although some will have a nostalgic attachment, myself included, to the earlier dub which hasn't been released since the Fox DVD in 2002.

The Blu-ray includes removable English or French subtitles. For English, there are two versions: one that subtitles Japanese dialogue and another that is a closed caption track with audio cues for events.

 

 Extras: Star Rating


This Blu-ray release serves up a collection of extras that is, in terms of content, covers exactly what was on the 2010 My Neighbor Totoro DVD set from Disney.

This includes a wealth of video extras, under a "Behind the Studio" label, that weren't present on the first, 2006 DVD release from Disney. The original videos in this series are done in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and are presented in high definition with great video quality. On the earlier release, subtitles were burned into the video track. Here, they are not only removable but come with options for English or French, with English having a subtitle and closed caption variants. There are a total of 4 videos in this series that account for a total of ten minutes. They are: Creating My Neighbor Totoro, Creating the Characters, The "Totoro" Experience and Producer's Perspective - Creating Ghibli. To create these, Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki were heavily interviewed. They are insightful and interesting, overall great extras.

Moving on, the disc also includes as part of this series an extra feature called The Location of "Totoro". Although labeled as part of the Behind the Studio, this was a feature that was not original but actually part of The Scenery of Ghibli. This 28 minute, standard definition feature was filmed in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It covers real world locations in Japan that are similar to those in the 1988 movie. Key word is similar. These aren't the locations that inspired the staff, and therefore make this extra only marginally interesting.

This is followed by the last feature with the "Behind the Studio" label, which is the Scoring Miyazaki feature. This seven minute, high definition video is an interview with composer Joe Hisaishi. The difference between this extra and the others is that it's not just about My Neighbor Totoro, but a variety of Studio Ghibli films that Hisaishi scored. While the extra is great, footage from a couple of them are included, and entries like Porco Rosso (1992), Princess Mononoke (1997) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004) look horrible here, for some reason.

Next up is the Behind the Microphone feature, one of the holdovers from the 2006 DVD. This interviews the voice cast of the 2006 American dub about their experience. It's presented here at a 1.33:1 aspect ratio in standard definition and the video quality is okay, although could have been sharper even for standard def content.

After this is another extra that has been on all of the Disney versions, the original storyboards. This features storyboards synced with audio to show the development process. Unlike the DVDs, though, this is available only with Japanese audio and either English or French subtitles, with the English also having a closed caption option. This is presented in HD, and looks stunning in terms of video quality.

Finally, the disc also has an original Japanese trailer for the movie. This is a joint trailer about The Grave of the Fireflies (1988) and My Neighbor Totoro that is in 1.85:1 and high definition. It's a huge improvement over the horrible condition trailer found on the DVD releases ...although just in case you missed it, that faded trailer is included too.

As a side note, the DVD contained here doesn't have any extras, besides sneak peaks for Ponyo (US), Toy Story/Toy Story 2 (Blu-ray), The Princess and the Frog (Blu-ray), Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (Blu-ray), Beauty and the Beast (Blu-ray), Toy Story 3 and My Neighbor Totoro/Kiki's Delivery Service/Castle in the Sky/Ponyo (DVD).

 

 Overview: Star Rating


While Disney has done better releases for the Studio Ghibli films, this is still a great Blu-ray release that does a good job of showcasing the movie as it was originally seen in theaters. So those looking to get the film in HD will be well served by this release.