Two of Hayao Miyazaki's finest films couldn't look or sound any better.
Say what you will about Disney going overboard with some animation projects (like the necessity for Pixar-related sequels, like Cars 2 and the forthcoming Monsters University), but there are times that the studio absolutely nails some decisions. Case in point – its agreement with Studio Ghibli, with master director Hayao Miyazaki in tow. With it, Disney is able to release some of Miyazaki's finest work, provided that the story isn't altered a single bit – and it's isn't. As a result, we've seen some unforgettable films come our way, including Spirited Away, Ponyo and Castle In the Sky. This week, two of his finest efforts arrive on Blu-Ray – the 1988 movie My Neighbor Totoro and the 2003 release Howl's Moving Castle. And if you have even the slightest appreciation for anime – or stories that aren't told in the usual manner – you'll snag both of these immediately.
My Neighbor Totoro follows two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, as they move with their father Tatsuo to a new city, where their mother is being observed for a strange condition. While in this place, they come across a trio of huge cat-like creatures known as totoro, different in size. They aren't menacing creatures by any means – in fact, in one of the film's more defining scenes, a larger one even offers comfort to Satsuki during a rainstorm. Over the course of the story, one of the sisters disappears, with the other forced to turn to her new friends to find her.
Meanwhile, Howl's Moving Castle has an equally complicated – but well told – story, loosely based on the Diana Wynne Jones novel. Sophie is a hat crafter who finds herself turned into an old woman after a run-in with both a mysterious wizard named Howl and a rather large woman simply known as the Witch of the Waste. Following her transformation, Sophie seeks answers – and finds them in the form of a large castle, powered by a fire demon named Calcifer and housing some interesting characters, including a young kid and a scampering dog. And, for good measure, there's also a scarecrow who's a real charmer, even if he is speechless.