April 2004

April 24, 2004 Takahata R1 DVDs Scheduled for Release
Sean Williams attended the LA screenings of several Takahata films and reported:

That's right, DVD releases! They announced a tentative November release date for American DVDs of Takahata-san's films. I'm not sure which of the films will be released (Fireflies is already out in a superb collector's edition), but it will be through Disney with the usual production value of the recent and upcoming Miyazaki releases (original Japanese track, quality English-language voice cast, extras). I'm guessing the releases will be: "Pom Poko", "My Neighbors the Yamadas" and "Only Yesterday". There hasn't been an official Disney press release yet, but the announcement was made twice by the event's co-host (she specifically mentioned the dubbing and the Q&A inclusion), and Disney was a partner/sponsor for the event. I can't wait!

Daniel Zelter sent in another report stating:

The host of the Japanese Anime Symposium mentioned that Isao Takahata's My Neighbors the Yamadas(a quirky film about a "typical" Japanese family), Pon Poko(a film about tanuki(racoon dogs) protecting their forest from expansion), and Only Yesterday(a movie about a working girl who reflects on her youth) will be on dvd this November. Among the features on the dvd will be the Q+A session at the Symposium with Takahata.

April 19, 2004 Studio Ghibli Art in Different Mediums
Xavier Roche wrote in to inform us that in celebration of the theatrical release of Kiki's Delivery Service in France, the "Paul" chain of bakeries have created a special cake.

Nish Udhian has created a composite artwork based on Spirited Away.

Fulfilling a dormant childhood wish, Ken Carty transfered a Miyazaki drawing of Nausicaa to a wall in his home using chalk and oil pastels.

April 15, 2004 Takahata and Steven Alpert in LA
Posted by Terry Dawson to the MML:

Isao Takahata & Steve Alpert will be featured at a two-day program in Los Angeles, April 23-24, with a number of interesting looking sessions and screening of four Takahata films. The programs are free, but attendance is limited.

Details at: http://www.annenberg.edu/anime/

sessions include:

Keynote address
Isao Takahata, Director, Studio Ghibli
"Our Works and Traditional Japanese Culture"

Steve Alpert, Senior Vice President, Studio Ghibli
"Japanese Animation - Why Americans Don't Get It, But Europeans Do"
Screening of Only Yesterday

Workshop: Teaching Japanese Culture Through Animation
Moderated by Nancy C. Lutkehaus
Confirmed participants include: Anne Allison, Steve Alpert, Gordon Berger (USC), Mizuko Ito, Stan Rosen (USC), Ellen Seiter (USC)

Screening of Grave of the Fireflies

Screening of My Neighbors the Yamadas

Screening of Pom Poko

Question and Answer Session by Isao Takahata

April 13, 2004 Update: Partial Voice Cast for "Howl's Moving Castle"
This news article translated by Philip Schnell and posted to the MML:

The staff of director Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle" is currently working hard towards a national release this fall.

The magnificent main cast, who will portray the heroine Sophie, the wizard Howl, and the Witch of the Waste who casts a curse on Sofie, has been chosen. This is our report.

- Producer Toshio Suzuki - (Studio Ghibli)

The storyboards are finished, and the production, centering on director Hayao Miyazaki, is progressing well. We'll be starting voice recording at last in the middle of April. For the main cast, we have decided on three actors representative of Japan.

The heroine is the eighteen-year-old Sophie. She is cursed by a certain witch and becomes a ninety-year-old woman. Even though she's old, she's still quite energetic! This Sophie meets the wizard Howl and begins an unusual co-existence with him in the castle.

Chieko Baisho [long o] will be playing the part of Sophie. It's difficult for a young woman to speak with the voice of an old woman. From the beginning, we knew we would have to get a veteran actress for the role. Then, one day we thought of Ms. Baisho. The truth is, I'm a fan of the "Otoko wa tsurai yo" [a.k.a. "Tora-san"] series and have seen them all, and when I consulted with Miyazaki, he agreed without hesitation.

The "weakling wizard" Howl is an extraordinarily good-looking young man, a type which one has seldom seen in Miyazaki's earlier films (smile). When one thinks of a representative handsome young man of Japan, Takuya Kimura comes immediately to mind. When I asked Miyazaki, "Have you heard of SMAP?" he replied, "Of course!" (smile). Miyazaki seems to be looking forward to the voice recording.

The one who casts the curse on Sophie is the Witch of the Waste. Looking at the character that Miyazaki created, it seemed that he had
someone specific in mind, so we sent a request to that person: Akihiro Miwa. As he also appeared in "Princess Mononoke," this will be his second Miyazaki picture.

It looks like Miyazaki's new film "Howl's Moving Castle" will be a great and moving work depicting the joys of life and of love.

- Chieko Baisho - (Sophie)

When I first heard that the role of Sophie would involve playing a part from eighteen years of age to ninety, I was a little confused, but since it's a role I could never do in a live-action picture, I'm looking forward to it.

- Takuya Kimura - (Howl)

I'm very honored to be allowed to participate for the first time in a Hayao Miyazaki work. As for myself, I want to see the completed film as soon as possible. I'm looking forward to it.

- Akihiro Miwa - (Witch of the Waste)

Following after "Princess Mononoke," I am delighted to be once again be asked to play a role in a Miyazaki film. And I am honored to have been designated by Director Miyazaki himself. To be able to take part in a film that will remain for posterity is a very great blessing for an actor. I hope to be allowed to give it my best shot.