The first Hayao Miyazaki movie I ever saw (heck, the first anime I ever saw that wasn't Dragonball Z) was Princess Mononoke. I instantly fell in love with the lush animation, the sweeping orchestral soundtrack, and the fantastical blend of samurai culture and Japanese mysticism. It's the film that simultaneously got me interested in Japanese animation and made me very picky about the anime I actually did watch. If Princess Mononoke was this good, why couldn't everything else be?
The second Miyazaki film I ever saw was Kiki's Delivery Service, and I fell in love for a completely different reason. It couldn't be more tonally different from Princess Mononoke unless it had a song and dance number, but it still felt undeniably the work of a master animator who sees the beauty in all things. Phil Hartman's role as Kiki's wise-cracking cat Jiji certainly helped, too.
I've been waiting ages for these two films to make their way to Blu-ray so I can watch them in high-definition on a massive screen as God intended. And it looks like I finally get my wish, as Princess Mononoke and Kiki's Delivery Service come out on Blu-ray on November 18th.
Miyazaki's swan song The Wind Rises also comes out the same day, and it's right up there with these two as one of my favorite films. It's a quiet introspection of a young Japanese man growing up during World War 2. He just wants to make beautiful planes, but the only way he can get a job doing that is if he designs fighter jets for the war effort. If you're a creative person, or can simply appreciate the hard work and craft that goes into creating something out of nothing, this film will resonate with you just as much as it did with me. I'm not afraid to admit that I left the theater with some misty eyes.
With Miyazaki's retirement, and the modern push into computer-generated animation, it's doubtful we'll get animated films at this staggering level of quality ever again. And on one day, you'll get to watch three of his greatest films in high-definition. Best holiday ever.
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