Online petition
August 30, 2001 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Online petition to bring Spirited Away, Japan's currently largest grossing film, to thje states. Disney owns the domestic rights to all of Hayao Miyazaki's films (think Princess Mononoke) and has no plans to release Spirited Away.
posted by skallas (25 comments total)

 
I can't believe they seriously think that, if one movie of Miyazaki's wasn't a hit, then the public will reject them all. I mean, how many American directors totally bomb with one release and then come back with something that sweeps everyone away?

This is just stupid, and very depressing. I love Miyazaki's work -- I drool at the very slightest rumor that they may someday (someday!) release "Raputa: Castle in the Sky". If they released "Spirited Away" here, I would probably spend several days unconscious from sheer joy. His movies are always, always soul stirring works -- easily masterpieces of animation art.

I'm going to go watch "Lupin III" again. Might cheer me up...
posted by Kikkoman at 7:43 PM on August 30, 2001


What pisses me off is that studios will piss away millions and millions making absolute garbage, most of which doesn't make a penny.

Here, the film is already made. Dub some voices, promote and distribute the thing. What's that cost? Not a whole lot, in the scheme of things.

Besides, in case Disney hasn't noticed, anime is bigger in the US than ever. It's a shame that Miyazaki's fans will suffer because the biggest animator in the world can't make the small adjustment it would take to get behind a foreign film.

They've stomped out any competition. Now they'll keep this apparent gem hidden. Bastards.
posted by jpoulos at 7:52 PM on August 30, 2001


What's that cost? Not a whole lot, in the scheme of things.


Its worse when you consider that Disney paid for 10% of this movie. The deal Miyazaki cut with Disney was really about releasing his movies without major cuts or re-editing. I don't see how it would hurt Disney to release this on DVD and VHS and make a killing in the anime market.

Maybe Disney is going to sit on this until Miyazaki gives them permission to chop it Disney style? Dunno.
posted by skallas at 8:01 PM on August 30, 2001


Does anyone know of anywhere we (Americans) can get Miyazaki's non-domestically distributed movies on DVD from overseas? Preferably w/ english subtitles?
posted by GriffX at 8:12 PM on August 30, 2001


IIRC, Spirited Away is his current blockbuster film that was just released this summer. I asked a friend about this, because she goes back to Japan each summer for several weeks.

According to her, Spirited Away relies on a lot of Japanese culture. The film is made for a Japanese audience and knowledge that Miyazaki assumes the audience already knows and has grown up with. Even if Spirited Away were to be brought to the United States and in a limited release, most viewers wouldn't get familiar enough with Japanese culture to understand it.
posted by kathryn at 8:34 PM on August 30, 2001


I'm willing to give it a try, kathryn.
posted by Kikkoman at 8:42 PM on August 30, 2001


griffx - try ebay. i know there's a 6-disc set of all his major films on dvd. 2 per disc. i think it's kinda grey-market, it may or may not be legal. but there is a version with english subtitles, and it sells for like $70. oh, and it's region 0, so you can watch it in any dvd player.
posted by chrisege at 8:45 PM on August 30, 2001


Thanks for posting this, skallas; I've often been frustrated by how hard it is to find Miyazaki films on tape or disc here, and I had no idea Disney was lurking behind the scenes. And yeah, all I'd ask for is a DVD release. They could skip the celeb voices this time and just go for subtitles, I'd be all over that.

Along the same lines – are we ever going to see Battle Royale over here?
posted by D at 8:45 PM on August 30, 2001


Kathryn, some people said the same thing about My Neighbor Totoro, but I don't need to be Japanese to love that movie either. I'm sure Spirited Away could find an audience here.

Here's the trailer. Intrigued? Then sign the petition.

D, you can get the zipped Battle Royale trailer and read our (not entirely serious) review. (WOOP WOOP SELF LINK ALERT). So far as we know, still no US distributor, but the industrious can track down the Hong Kong VCD.
posted by Zettai at 8:51 PM on August 30, 2001


most viewers wouldn't get familiar enough with Japanese culture to understand it.

anime is more popular than ever now, not just because of the quality, but simply because it's anime. even if it's censored, there are places to rent/ ways to obtain. what i want to know is if petitioners know what the movie is about and is interested because of that, or if they just want to watch because of miyazaki's name. with what kathryn said in mind, if it's something you won't get, what is the reason one would feel so strongly about seeing this? mind you, with absolutely no disrespect to his work, miyazaki's name is a marketing tool, too, and just because you're not living in japan and bombarded the same way, you're still succumbing a marketing device if you're jizzed just from hearing his name.
posted by elle at 8:55 PM on August 30, 2001


what i want to know is if petitioners know what the movie is about and is interested because of that, or if they just want to watch because of miyazaki's name.

Isn't this just more than a little trivial? I don't think this is a practical concern, if the DVD sucks then an american consumer is out of $20. I'd rather have it on the market with it available at a video store, english reviews, etc than just assuming its a big publicity ploy that doesn't deserve to be put on DVD.

even if it's censored, there are places to rent/ ways to obtain.

No. That's the problem. You can't get it unless you stoop to something like an illegal bearshare download with terrible fan subbing or ebay DVD purchase that your Region 1 player won't even play.
posted by skallas at 9:35 PM on August 30, 2001


This isn't the first time Disney has abused its control over its property distribution.

There was an animated film by director Richard Williams called The Thief and the Cobbler (retitled Arabian Knight, a tale based on the original 1001 Arabian Nights.

Arabian Knight was over twenty years in the making, but was demolished when Disney, and other investors, grew impatient and pulled the control of the film into new hands: Miramax. When Disney bought Miramax in 1994, the already turmoiled project was finished on a shoestring budget and the storyline was butchered beyond belief, in order to capitalize on the success of Disney's suspiciously similar project, Aladdin. Released in theatres for about a week in 1995, Arabian Knight was a failure, and the results were far from the director's original vision. The film is only just now being released on video in the U.S., but is Miramax's edit and not the director's cut.

Details are sketchy. This is the most descriptive site on the Internet I could find.

You'd think Disney could at least give Miyazaki's latest project a shot, since it's already a proven hit overseas. But it seems in Hollywood, you're only as successful as the monetary success of your last project, regardless of critical acclaim.
posted by Down10 at 9:52 PM on August 30, 2001


miyazaki's name is a marketing tool, too, and just because you're not living in japan and bombarded the same way, you're still succumbing a marketing device if you're jizzed just from hearing his name.

I see where you're coming from, but I don't think this is true. Miyazaki's name isn't like a brand--highly visible, but ultimately no indication of quality or consistency. It's not just a name you slap onto some random movie to make it sell better, it's the name of the person who made the movie. The fact that I have consistently been very impressed with his work in the past leads me to believe that I can expect this to be good as well.
posted by moss at 10:24 PM on August 30, 2001


Sure Miyazaki's name is a draw. But for good reason. I've seen every one of the movies he's directed and he has never failed to deliver. There is no other director I can say that about.
posted by Tenuki at 10:52 PM on August 30, 2001


I'd rather have it on the market with it available at a video store, english reviews, etc than just assuming its a big publicity ploy that doesn't deserve to be put on DVD.

i didn't mean it's a publicity ploy that doesn't to be on dvd. nothing doesn't deserve to be on dvd, it's cheaper to print than vhs. in saying that the miyazaki name is a marketing tool i didn't mean disney's marketing tool, it's just A marketing tool, mainly in japan. it's not an evil tool, he stuff has been great. this is a bad example because he is good, but people are just so gungho about anime, shitty or not, i can't stand it. two extremes: either a lack of discrimination between stuff one actually likes and doesn't (perpretrating the whole pokemon phenomenon), or otaku-style uber-knowledge based criticism. i'll concede that an american release would counteract the described behavior. alright, i'm signing this bugger.
posted by elle at 10:53 PM on August 30, 2001


it's just A marketing tool, mainly in japan. it's not an evil tool, he stuff has been great. this is a bad example because he is good, but people are just so gungho about anime, shitty or not, i can't stand it.

What does this have to do with the petition or the Disney/Miyazaki deal?

You're going a bit off topic with whether a director's name is a commodity to marketers and that little criticism of anime fans.

A post essentially saying "I dont like anime fans" isn't much of post.
posted by skallas at 11:21 PM on August 30, 2001


miyazaki's name is a marketing tool, too, and just because you're not living in japan and bombarded the same way, you're still succumbing a marketing device if you're jizzed just from hearing his name.

yeah, just hearing his name and being reminded of at least 5 of the greatest animated features ever made. Sure his films are marketed, but it's not like they're slapping "studio ghibli" onto any old shit just to sell tickets. that's like saying "they only called that album a radiohead album so they could sell more copies." It's still radiohead, isn't it?

miyazaki/ghibli films are the product, not the tool used to sell the product.

now playing: nausicaa soundtrack.
now reading: nausicaa perfect collection vol. 2, english translation.
posted by chrisege at 11:23 PM on August 30, 2001


what i said was pretty vague, but not really off topic, skallas, it's what this thread made me think about, i just wanted to share. i'm saying people are too gungho about anime and not taking it for what it is-- an art form that deserves as much or as little attention as any other. when you're consumed by fandom, it takes away from the experience of viewing the work because you're so ready to agree with it you overlook what you don't agree with. if a work doesn't resonate with you, then it doesn't, even if it's by a master. but i'm not doubting that 'sen' might be as resonant as miyazaki's other works has been with individuals in america, that's why bringing it here is encourageable.
posted by elle at 11:44 PM on August 30, 2001


I'd have to concur with elle in that anime and its fandom are falling into that same trap of "well, its not Disney and its from Japan so it must be better than any American animation" that we've seen time and again with other art forms - instead of debating the merits of each work based on the work itself, and not some preconceived notions (pro or con) coming into play.

(I had a debate with an anime fan who refused to acknowledge the artistic merits of Warner Bros/Tex Avery style work versus anime. It upset me. I'll take Cow & Chicken over Akira any day, but I'm willing to admit Akira is a stunning work of art)
posted by owillis at 2:25 AM on August 31, 2001


Studio Ghibli is currently in the process of releasing their "Ippai Collection", containing all of their greats, in Japan. These are beautifully restored transfers with English subtitles. They currently have "Kiki's Delivery Service" and "My Neighbours the Yamadas" out, with Totoro following very soon (mid-September, IIRC). Naushika and Raputa are also on their list.

CDJapan has the discs at Japanese street price, which is about USD 40 a piece plus a bit of postage. Only problem is you'll need to have region 2 playback capability (a good reason to get your player modified if it isn't already!).
posted by kvan at 2:49 AM on August 31, 2001


On the subject of the actual online petition: has one of these worked? Y'know... ever? It's a nice idea, but I've signed enough of these to get just the slightest suspicion that coprorate america thinks these are just generated randomly by computer programs from two nerds in a basement, and treats them accordingly. Physical letter-writing campaigns seemed useless enough, and at least that's tangible to a CEO or something.
posted by kevspace at 2:19 PM on August 31, 2001


people are just so gungho about anime, shitty or not, i can't stand it

Look, I kind of know where you're coming from. Jin-Roh came out recently to general acclaim, but I thought it was a big nothing-- if it hadn't been ***ANIME*** I doubt anyone would have been lining up to praise it. It was slow, obtuse, and frankly I spent most of the film wondering why it was animated at all when the protagonist's whole internal struggle seemed to cry out for a human actor to dramatize it.

But (dragging myself back on topic) while I don't slavishly love everything anime, I have loved all Miyazaki's films that I've seen, and it makes me so pissed off that it's hard to find this stuff in the US. Mononoke Hime doesn't do so well (in limited release with a shitty poster and no advertising or promotion), so nobody gets any more Miyazaki in this country unless they want to buy bootlegs? And then the RIAA corporate types wonder why media piracy is accepted practice among us civilians. Grrrr.
posted by Zettai at 2:34 PM on August 31, 2001


kevspace, according to the people at animenation.com:

. A similar campaign to urge Disney to include a subtitled Japanese language track on the Princess Mononoke DVD gathered 10,000 signatures, national media attention, and ended successfully.

Also petitiononline's FAQ shows a success with Microsoft owned WebTV. I'm sure the overall percentage is pretty crappy, most petitions are more trivial than this one like "Bring back so-and-so to my favorite TV series!"

Some top petitions right now:

Aaliyah must remain in Matrix 2

Big Brother - Nicole deserves a penalty nomination

Bring Xena Back To Australian Television

Impeach George W. Bush
posted by skallas at 5:22 PM on August 31, 2001


I had a debate with an anime fan who refused to acknowledge the artistic merits of Warner Bros/Tex Avery style work versus anime. It upset me. I'll take Cow & Chicken over Akira any day,

Just to veer a little more off-topic, I think it's interesting you mention Cow & Chicken alongside Tex Avery. People don't realize, I think, the debt that modern American 'toons owe to Avery. Without him, there's no Ren & Stimpy, no Courage the Cowardly Dog (which has really grown on me lately). Someone had to be the first to make a 'toon's eyes bug out of his head.

It's tough to compare that stuff to Akira, or any other "serious" anime, though. They come from very different places. It's like comparing Bill Hicks to, I don't know, Spalding Gray. They both stand on stage on talk (or did in the case of Hicks), but they're doing very different things. Anyway...I digress..
posted by jpoulos at 3:30 PM on September 1, 2001


I apologize for the poor analogy above. You get the idea, though.
posted by jpoulos at 3:30 PM on September 1, 2001


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