Andrew Osmond traces the links from Miyazaki’s Laputa to the works of Jules Verne.
In his proposal for the anime classic Laputa - Castle in the Sky, the director Hayao Miyazaki wrote that he wanted to set the story in a time when “machines are still exciting and enjoyable, and science does not necessarily make people unhappy.” The machines would not be mass produced, but “possess the inherent warmth of handcrafted things... The vehicles are a diverse collection of hand-built, eccentric inventions.”
This vision is expressed in Laputa’s brilliant title sequence, where we see great fleets of dirigibles, galleons hoisted aloft by propellers, and shoals of flying islands. The images purposefully recall old illustrations. Parts of the sequence make use of “hatching,” tight parallel lines giving an antique texture to the pictures. The style and subject scream Jules Verne, the pioneering author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1869). Verne, too, envisaged marvellous craft in the air or sea, his dreams drawn by great illustrators such as Edouard Ridou and Leon Bennett.
If you’ve wondered what Laputa’s title sequence would look like at movie-length, then seek out The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. This is an extraordinary 1958 Czech film by the fantasy director Karel Zeman, who used fake scenery, mechanical props, stop-motion and real actors. Zeman also mimicked the “hatched” illustration style, overlaying his screen images with lines and pin-striping his film’s costumes, decor and models. A zeppelin is flown by a pedalling pilot; divers drive deep-sea pedalos with handbells; there are war-camels on roller-skates! (There’s an anime in the last one...)
Laputa is also linked to several Verne-derived anime. The oldest is a TV version of 20,000 Leagues, which reduces the story to forty breathless minutes. Made for the American studio Rankin-Bass around 1972, it was animated by Japan’s Top Craft studio, which made Miyazaki’s Nausicaa a decade later. (Top Craft’s co-founder, Toru Hara, later produced Laputa, Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.)
Miyazaki wasn’t involved with 20,000 Leagues, but he made a lighter submarine adventure in “Treasure under the Sea,” an episode of Sherlock Hound (available as a box-set from Manga Entertainment). Actually, the mini-sub in the story is incidental. Miyazaki is far more excited about drawing giant guns and battleships blasting things (and you thought he was a gentle Totoro!). A lot of the imagery gets reused both in Laputa and Miyazaki’s later Howl’s Moving Castle, but “Treasure under the Sea” is a splendid knockabout in its own right. The story was shown on a double bill with Nausicaa in Japanese cinemas.
The best-known Verne anime, though, is Nadia, The Secret of Blue Water. This 1990 TV epic by the Gainax studio was inspired both by Verne and Miyazaki, using bits of a story that Miyazaki had pitched in the 1970s, but reinterpreted by director Hideaki Anno. As such, Nadia is a fascinating link between Laputa and Anno’s subsequent Evangelion. Nemo and the Nautilus figure prominently, but the most striking character is the titular black heroine, who first looks like a sunny Miyazaki-esque girl, but has a troubled and tortured soul worthy of Nemo himself.
The TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE 30th Anniversary Edition featuring the newly remastered movie from a new 4K transfer of original film elements.
The AUTOBOTS, led by the heroic OPTIMUS PRIME, prepare to make a daring attempt to retake their planet from the evil forces of MEGATRON and the DECEPTICONS. Unknown to both sides, a menacing force is heading their way – UNICRON. The only hope of stopping UNICRON lies within the Matrix of Leadership and the AUTOBOT who can rise up and use its power to light their darkest hour. Will the AUTOBOTS be able to save their native planet from destruction or will the DECEPTICONS reign supreme?
Bonus Content: • ‘Til All Are One – A brand-new, comprehensive documentary looking back at TRANSFORMERS: The Movie with members of the cast and crew, including story consultant Flint Dille, cast members Gregg Berger, Neil Ross, Dan Gilvezan, singer/songwriter Stan Bush, composer Vince Dicola and others! •Audio Commentary with Director Nelson Shin, story consultant Flint Dille and star Susan Blu • Featurettes • Animated Storyboards • Trailers and TV Spots
For the ultimate fans and collectors, The TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE Limited Edition, 30th Anniversary Steelbook comes with highly collectible Steelbook packaging, 2 Blu-ray set of the newly remastered movie (Both aspect ratios), immersive bonus content including brand-new featurettes, plus many more. This is a must-own collection to every fan's library!
Director Naoyoshi Shiotani on getting the darkness right
“In every theatre you have different light, so you can never be sure what it’s going to look like. So you have to think; will this be okay, will you lose details in that kind of darkness? It was hard to calculate all that.”
Andrew Osmond on Japan's chances at this year's Academy Awards
There are two anime among this year’s Oscar nominees: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, competing for Best Animated Feature, and Shuhei Morita’s Possessions, vying for Best Animated Short. To date, there has been only one Japanese winner in each category. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away was the winning feature in 2002; Kunio Kato’s La Maison en Petits Cubes won Best Animated Short Film in 2008. What are the new films’ chances?
Some of you may have heard that the US release of the hotly anticipated Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo has been delayed. Unfortunately we can now confirm that this has had a knock-on effect for the UK DVD and Blu-ray release and as a result we have been forced to amend the release date. We are very sorry for this but it is beyond our control.
Andrew Osmond rend compte d'une exposition dans un musée à Paris
If you’re a Ghibli fan in Paris in the next few weeks, then you owe it to yourself to visit the Art Ludique Museum and take in one of the most amazingly comprehensive exhibitions mounted on the studio. Filling the building, the exhibition consists of 1,300 layout drawings from the studio’s three-decade history; from 1984’s Nausicaa through to 2014’s When Marnie was There, plus a section on Ghibli’s prehistory.
An important change to the Psycho-Pass DVD/Blu-ray release
For all of you looking forward to the release of Psycho-Pass we have some news for you. Today we can confirm that due to high demand we will be combining the upcoming Part 1 and Part 2 releases of Psycho-Pass into one Complete Series Collection!