April 21, 2005

Howl's Moving Castle


I'm looking forward to the American release of Miyazaki's: Howl's Moving Castle. (see the trailer here) I've been a big Miyazaki fan ever sense a friend of mine lent me his laserdisk copies of Nausicaa, Laputa,Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service. Back then it was very difficult to find his films with any kind of english translation, so we watched them without understanding a word of what was being said. Years later when I watched fan-dubbed copies, I was impressed to find that except for a few small details, I had understood his films completely. That's a big credit to Miyazaki's visual story telling skills.

Miyazaki is great at capturing what something feels like. He has a sequence in Kiki's Delivery Service where the main character Kiki is lying in the grass. He really captured what that feels like, or when one of the little girls grabs a hold of a fuzzy Totoro tail in My Neighbor Totoro. It really feels like a big soft tail on a big huge creature. Great stuff.

Miyazaki story boarded his films by himself. I have collected the Japanese DVDs where you can step in between Miyazaki's story boards and the final film. To my surprise they look almost exactly the same. Same timing, same posing, almost the same drawings, just cleaned up a bit. You can't say that about most animated films.

Disney has been re-translating and re-dubbing his films and have been re-releasing them in the states. Unfortunately, they have not been doing the best job of it. I don't have any real complaints about Disney's dubbing job, their casing of the voices is pretty weird, but I kinda expect odd voices in a dubbed foreign film. My big complaint is with Disney's translation. Disney has become more concerned with how long it takes to speak a line how important the line is in the film. Disney's translation of Kiki's Delivery Service is the worst translation I have ever seen in any foreign film. Somehow they decided that kids wouldn't be able to understand what is happening on screen, so they decided to add a lot of lines to describe the visual. This is the biggest cardinal sin of film making (not just in translating films): You either say something or you show it, you never say and show it, ever! Disney should know better.

They have gotten better at translating some of Miyazaki's later films, but if your looking to watch any of Miyazaki's films the best rout is to buy the Japanese Studio Gibli DVDs. They have a lot more extras then the Disney DVDs and the subtitles have a much better translation (no dub, sorry). You'll need a reign free DVD player, but it's worth it.

Even with Disney's terrible translation I think Miyazaki is a great visual story teller and I think I'll enjoy Howl's Moving Castle quite a lot. I can't wait until its out! It hits America June 10th!


Benjamin De Schrijver said...

My friend has seen it, and he told me it's simply genious. He couldn't stop talking about it... which was horrible, since I'd missed the only showing due to a math test the day after. I'll definitly be seeing it when it's released in theaters. I'm not sure it will be released here, though, but I'm hoping it will due to the success of spirited away. Fingers crossed!

- Benjamin

Anonymous said...

I've seen it, I've seen it!!!
It's amazing, you always expect Miyazaki to be magic, and every time... he gives you more than you expected!
Won't add any more, go run and see it as soon as you can.

Anonymous said...

It's charming, grim, and wondrous and everything that a fairy tale should be. Outstanding. If it wasn't for the japanese dialogue (we watched a fansub), I'd swear I was watching a late 19th c. Victorian phantasy. Go see it!

mediamovers said...

Dubbing/Subtitling are integral part of cultural transfer between all countries.
Though the debate is always between preference of dubbing or subtitling each of it requires high level of artistic/technical input to ensure the final output is more local in every sense.

Dubbing brings more life to characters of a film than subtitles though a bad dubbed film can be a nightmare.

Sometimes the dubbing studio/company decides to opt for more line as a mutual decision which ofcourse is bad.

Lawrence Vishnu
Media Movers, Inc.

Ethan said...

Honestly, my issues is with Disney's effort to bring Miyazaki's work to America has purely to do with their translation of the script. To dub the film they create a translation that matches better with what the actors on screen are saying. Sometimes a few short words will translate into some very long sentices in English. This I understand. That's why I prefure a dub, with a dub you can preserve the proper translation without having to worry about the actors.

The story is the most important thing to me, not the performance.

Recently Disney has made the voice script the same as the subtitles, so instead of preserving the proper translation, you get the edited translation if you choose to watch the dub or the sub. This sucks. As a fan of Miyazaki's work I'd like to see the version that is close to the original as possible. So Disney forces me to buy the Japanese DVDs and a region free player just to watch the films.