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A more complete look at the dubbed version of MONONOKE HIME (aka Princess Mononoke)

Hey folks, here we have a very good look at the changes (via dubbing and such) that were made in the release of MONONOKE HIME to PRINCESS MONONOKE. This print was shown at the San Diego Comic Con with Neil Gaiman in attendance for the Q&A afterwards. This report covers all of that. And thankfully, he wasn't disturbed by Claire Danes' voice... I hope the same can be said of all of us! Talk atcha later...

Here's my review/explanation of the new English dub of Mononoke. I was lucky enough to see it at the Comicon in San Diego this last Saturday, and after sending it to Nausicaa.net, they reccomended I send it to you, too, so here it is:

The film begins exactly the same, and true to their agreement, Disney (they're actually releasing the film through Dimension, a subsidary of Miramax) has not taken out one second of footage. Joe Hisaishi's score also seemed to be entirely intact. But as for the dialogue, CHANGES GALORE. Not to dumb it down, but I could understand that changes had to be made by Mr. Gaiman (who was there for Q & A, and whom I got to ask a few questions to as well). The first immediate change is that during the once silent (save the score music) opening scene, now they have a narration by Keith David (from Dead Presidents, Something About Mary, and the voice of Goliath from TV's Gargoyles). The opening prologue basically tells about the age of forest gods and demons and what-not, which I guess is somewhat necessary for American audiences, who are not used to the deep myth-style storytelling of the Japanese.

From that the story remains farily the same. Billy Crudup is a very good Ashitaka, and refers to his ride as "Yakkule" instead of "Yakkuru". He then rides up to the watch with the old man, where there occurs another change - the concept of the "tatarigami" is not longer in the film, in the sense that the people have NO IDEA what is coming out of the forest. As he's being chased, Ashitaka is yelling at the beast stuff like "I do not know what you are, friend or demon, but please calm yourself!" Again, this happens when the old woman magistrate walks to the beast, and says something like "I do not know what you are, but I bow to you."

Ashitaka gets hurt in the arm again, and when he is in the hut with the old woman and the town nobles, she instead of in the original version, says he must now cut his hair and goes into the symbolism of that, before he leaves. And as he leaves, when the young girl (I cannot remember her name for the life of me) runs up to Ashitaka, she is now his sister (I'm assuming so that American audiences can be more comfortable with his and San's relationship later on).

The wife in the town (in the pink shirt) is played by Jada Pinkett, and of course Lady Eboshi is played by Minnie Driver. Both keep their respective accents, which seemed a little strange in the film: Pinket had a very black dialogue, and Driver had a very English one, and it seemed a little strange considering they are supposed to all be from the same area. As San, Claire Daines does farily well, especially when she first fights Eboshi (Daines really gets some good grunts out). But Gillian Anderson, though she does TRY, just cannot get the gruff, animalistic voice that Akirhiro Miwa used for Moro, even with help from echoey sound effects. Billy Bob Thornton plays Jiko, and is pretty funny at his lines, though I felt at times he lent a little too MUCH humor to the film and in translation, it lost much of it's poetry.

Gaiman spoke on that at one of his panels, and how difficult it was to write for the film. I asked him if he'd be willign to script any of the other Miyazaki translations, and he said, "It was an amazing process, it was a wonderful thing to be a prt of, and I'd never do it again in my life." He spoke of the difficulty of balancing the idea of faithful translation, and still sneaking in enough information to keep American audiences understanding the film. He also said one of the most frustrating things he encountered, was "having a really great line in mind in four syllabyls, and the character only flaps his mouth three times." And in that repect, Gaiman did a great job - this film did come out of the characters mouths even better than the original Japanese did, which is a GREAT rarity compared to most dubbing jobs. He also talked abotu translating not just the literal words, but concepts and impact, too. Such as when Jiko tastes his soup. Gaiman said "the literal translation was, 'This soup tastes like water', which on a scale of insult, from one to ten, is a ten in Japanese culture. But when you translate it into English, this soup tastes like water, it rates down at about a one. So I changed it to, 'This tastes like donkey piss', and that put it back up at a ten again."

Keith David probably gave the best performance of the film as the second, white boar, whose name I cannot remember - he was very deep and animal, and did well as the boar lost all his sense in flight toward the forest lake. And while basically everyone did well enough, it just felt like Driver, Pinkett, Anderson & Thornton were ill-placed. The film as a whole did dissapoint me, but then I thought, well the whole reason thsi si beign translated is for the regular American audience to understand it, and if that means dumbing it down here, or putting more explanation, or sneaking in a couple more jokes, it's fine. And if you go into the theaters with those expectations, you won't be dissapointed - just know that this is not the direct translations we are used to, this is the AMERICAN VERSION of Mononoke, and reflects just that.

I asked Gaiman if he would ever work with Miyazaki in comics form, write a story for him to illustrate, and he kind of stared at me as if I'd spouted utter nonsense, and said, "Would I ever work with Miyazaki on a comic? Of course...I'm not STUPID." He was a very funny and interesting guy to listen to. He also told us of how he got involved, which is hilarious. He said that Harvey Weinstein (chairman of Miramax) aquired Mononoke Hime and said, 'There is only one person to write the adaptation of this film - Quentin Tarantino.' Of course, when he phoned Quentin, he declined and said he could never do it, go get Neil Gaiman. So Weinstein did, and refusing to send Neil a copy of the tape, instead set up a full theater for him to watch it in, subtitled, to get the whoel glory of the film, and Neil loved it. But what really clenched the deal was that Weinstein said, "Look, we've got the film all ready, we've already started casting, and Leonardo DiCprio is almost CERTAIN to play Ashitaka, he's already expressed an interest." And as soon as Maddy Gaiman (Neil's daughter) heard that, she looked at her father and said, "Daddy, you're not even THINKING about turning this down, are you?" And so he signed on, even though DiCaprio backed out and Crudup took over wonderfully.

And that's about it. If you'd like I could answer any more questions and/or send you a scan of the movie pass they gave out (it has an image of the American poster, but it's a horribly photocpied pass they gave us and I'm not sure how it'd come out). Also, I saw at the Bandai/Pioneer booth that a video of "The Dog of Flanders" (the TV show Miyazaki & Takahata briefly worked on) is released, and though their footage is not included, it has that older Takahata look to it, like Heidi. And also by Bandai/Pioneer, and more importantly, Panda Kopanda is being released here in the states, titled "Panda and Friends." I was unsure form the preview whether it's going to be dubbed, since all they showed was clips from the shows, along with that annyoing cute theme song, but I woudl assume dubbing is going to happen since it's a show for small children. Also, they showed clips from both episodes, so it looks like they will be included on one tape. And very lastly, Bandai/Pioneer also showed (only as a title) that "The Castle of Cagliostro" is being rereleased through them. I asked whether or not the original dub would be used (which I quite liked, presonally) or a new one done, and the spokesman said that they would like to do a new dub, but it all depends on how much time they have.

Thanks for reading all this. Please feel free to reprint all or part of what I reported, and email me back if you need any more information or the scan. Thanks, and keep up the great page!

- Adam Tierney

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 17, 1999, 12:27 a.m. CST

    Posts

    by Harbinger

    Whoa, long post. Bit dull too. Gillian Anderson: Nothing Special. Castle of Cagliastro: wasn't a hugh fan. OK though I guess. Very entertaining car chase... :)

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 12:36 a.m. CST

    Americians intelligence

    by Scopa

    sigh, im proud to be an american, but two things happened to me tonight that are making me think that Americans are loosing their intelligence. First, i came home for a few minutes and i saw a little bit of some game show on TV with Reggis hosting. it had questions like "What is the capital of Iraq" and the people on the show had trouble answering it! it had other stupid questions that i learned in 8th grade! i was horrified that these were really hard for the people on the game show! ugh... sickening... and now im home from a day out with my friends and i read this article about the "American Version" of mononoke hime. needlees to say, i am a bit taken aback by what was said here. let me quote the parts that struck me as a bit sad... "The film as a whole did dissapoint me, but then I thought, well the whole reason this is being translated is for the regular American audience to understand it, and if that means dumbing it down here, or putting more explanation, or sneaking in a couple more jokes, it's fine" COME ON! "Dumbing it down" "Putting more explanation" "More Jokes" its like the public is being treated like little children! "If you make them laugh, and you explain everything they will be happy and enjoy them selves! we wouldn't want the public to have to THINK about anything!" ugh it makes me mad that we live in a world were people don't get to think for themselves. they get everything spoon fed to them! I saw this movie in Japanese, w/out any subtitles or translation.. I can't even understand the language but i could still figure out most of the movie! well anyway, im just a little pissed at the fact that americans seem to be getting dumber and dumber latly... I hope the movie is still good, even though it is "dumbing down here and there"

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 12:57 a.m. CST

    Explaining cultural differences is not "dumbing down."

    by WizardX

    While I, on the whole, agree that most American films are geared towards the lowest possible demominator, I don't think changing bits of Anime happens just because most Americans are dumb. The Japanese culture is about as far removed from the American one as is possible, and certain changes HAVE to be made or else it would make sense to no one save someone who's studied the Japanese. Like the water\piss thing. If a story is being based on Japanese myths, it's hardly "dumbing down" to tell AMERICANS what those myths are. It's no difference than, say, trying to explain Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyon to an Easterner.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 4:02 a.m. CST

    Miyazaki on the silver screen.

    by jb

    For those of us lucky enough to have a good repertory art-house theater in the area, Buena Vista is supposedly releasing prints of their entire Miyazaki catalog right around the time Mononoke goes wide. Don't know which will be dubbed and which will be subbed. If your area's theater has a suggestion line/email address, now would be the time to voice your support.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 5:40 a.m. CST

    intelligence?!

    by half vader

    Scopa, I hope you're red-faced by now after your rant about intelligence. If most net users had half a brain they'd pick up a dictionary before posting. How you had the guts to post that stuff with such sloppiness is beyond me. Use capitals. Use punctuation. Check before you post. Look, I know I sound like the world's biggest snob, but most people who post have all the grammatic skills of a pre-schooler. Also, as regards the film, many things can be gleaned through CONTEXT. Even if it sounds strange, you can draw a pretty obvious conclusion about the soup insult, and if you've read a couple of books or seen any (or many) Japanese movies, you know about the symbolism of cutting one's hair. Oops - I'm being a snob again. Besides, anyone who watches Jay Leno's Vox Pops on Universal Walk already despairs for the intelligence (or lack thereof) of the "average" American.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 6:20 a.m. CST

    Okkotonushi

    by Albert Acisuan

    The big white boar was named Okkotonushi, for those who are wondering. IMHO, he was the best performance in the film originally. He was played by Hisaya Morishige, this old stage legend who came out of retirement for that one last performance, and he was just unbelievable.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 6:27 a.m. CST

    "Making comprehensible" != "dumbing down"

    by Albert Acisuan

    Personally, I'm very happy Gaiman has changed lines to try and explain things in the dub. Let me tell you why: I've seen the film a good 15 times. I've read considerably on the cultural aspects. I've gone over the film line by line, frame by frame. Twice. And I still miss things. Not intelligent things, things like "Oh, she was his _sister!_" Many Japanese people didn't get all the hair-cutting and similar cultural refs. This is wrong, and IMHO the one big flaw in Miyazaki's masterpiece. There's such a thing as being _too_ subtle.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 6:43 a.m. CST

    respect

    by half vader

    Fair comments, Neo.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 6:45 a.m. CST

    Nyotaimori

    by Pope Buck 1

    Gee, maybe there just aren't enough Americans who KNOW about nyotaimori. I, for one, would like to see a nyotaimori fad sweep America now that I've heard about it, and I'm sure you would too! If we can appropriate fugu, ninjas, various martial arts, and at least three of Madonna's "looks" from Japan, why not nyotaimori? This is a craze waiting to happen, I tell you!

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 8:59 a.m. CST

    Japanese culture and anime

    by JBardin

    If any of you are going to try and understand the Japanese, then please, stop watching anime. To claim an understanding of the Japanese culture as a whole because you watched some good anime and such is so ignorant as to be laughable. You want to know about them? Read their mythology (the real stuff, not the Americanized versions). Study their history. Learn the daily customs of living (eating, working, etc.). And stop generalizing them. They are just as diversified as we are, in their own ways. Stop stereotyping them as pedophiles and freaks due to some really bad movies. (I supposed that we should expect the Japanese to judge us by the South Park movie, huh?) After you have looked into their lives and through their eyes, then watch the anime. You'll gain a whole new understanding for what they're trying to say in their movies. Believe it.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 9:33 a.m. CST

    dumbing down...

    by jccalhoun

    So I guess that because the Japanease changed some of the superficial trappings of baseball they dumbed the sport down then right?

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Intelligent thread

    by csoule

    Now, THIS is an intelligent discussion, for once. The claims that have been made here regarding the differences between Japanese and American culture could be made about America vs. the French, the Germans, the Filipinos, even the Canadians. For whatever reason, every society on earth has their own set of foibles. As Neo mentioned above, an effort to introduce one culture to another in a BENIGN way is certainly a good thing, as opposed to methods like the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, or the Monroe Doctrine, just to name two examples. Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing the film, although I understand that the real genius is in the artwork. www.charles.soule.com

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Anime

    by 005

    I'd rather see the dubbed version of Princess Mononoke than a subtitled one. I'll see it if it comes out near me, but I honestly don't like reading subtitles. I saw Life Is Beautiful with them, and I really didn't like them, even though that film was great. As far as dumbing it down, no it's not. It's only fixing the problems caused by the differences in the 2 cultures.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 1:05 p.m. CST

    re:Miyazaki on the silver screen

    by Pazu

    JB's "news" about Buena Vista showing all the Ghibli films at your local art house is incorrect. It sounds like he got a garbled version of the news that the Museum of Modern Art in New York City will be showing the complete set of Ghibli films during a retrospective of Miyazaki and his films from Sept 16-26. And yes, this is a tie-in with the premiere of Mononoke in October. The link for this info is http://www.moma.org/filmvideo/db/exhibition/shown/23.html

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 1:42 p.m. CST

    I like this review much better......

    by Ashitaka no Miko

    First off, on the 'dumbing down' issue, I think it was more they added a sort of 'Japanese myths for Dummies' interlude. Not necessarily trying to make it easy to understand for 'dumb' americans, but to inform those who don't spend alot of time researching said myths. On the DUB vs. SUB issue.... give it a rest please? It seems that any time someone posts anything about anime this little controversy pops up... Each format has it's own merits and every one has their own perferences so hope for a DVD with both ^^ Anyway, I'm glad to see a review that has something positive to say about the dub (the last one had me worried). One question, how's Ashitaka's voice? He's my favourite character (as you can probably guess) and I'd like to hope it was done well... http://w3.to/Kodama_no_Mori/

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 1:43 p.m. CST

    subtitles...

    by kadabra

    I work in a video store and I have seen so many people pick up a great foreign film and bring it up to the counter. I usually then ask them "You know this is in Japanese(or whatever langage it is in) with English subtitles, right?" Almost every time this happens, they look shocked (God forbid they have to READ!) and put the movie back. Personally, I have no problem at all with reading subtitles. I mean, I only notice that I'm actually reading them for the first five minutes and then I get so absorbed it is the same as watching a film in ANY language. Still, I can see why in order to make a film more commercialy successful, studios dubb them. Dubbing isn't that bad, when done well. They've done a pretty good job of dubbing the last couple Miyazaki films. Besides, Mononoke Hime kicked ass, and dubbing it will just make more people want to watch it.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Joe Hisaishi

    by BV

    Hisaishi, Hisaishi, Hisaishi, YAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 2:48 p.m. CST

    C of C

    by FBuxton

    Just saw this the other night...damn it was good! Brilliant pacing, and style to burn. I'd say it was probably the best dub I've seen.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 4:53 p.m. CST

    Do you want brilliant anime?

    by narf

    Here are 3 words you need to know: "My Neighbor Totoro". Miyazaki's insanely brilliant film about a family and the forest spirits that dwell along side them. It's fun, smart and addictive, and I can't think of a better way to let kids (and adults) see animation that hasn't been Disneyized for mass dummy consumption. Also, check out "Kiki's Delivery Service". Smart flicks that don't assume you or your kids are a bunch of dullards

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 5:02 p.m. CST

    Anime

    by MANlX

    As a relatively new fan to Anime I for one like the fact that some of the plot or story lines are a little complex. Say for instance a movie like Ghost In The Shell. The first time I saw it I was a little lost for a while(Section 9 this, ghost hack that) but once I began to catch on, the movie got that much better. But I do have to say that I'm not a big fan of caption. Although a few of the movies I do have are captioned I look for a dubbed version first. Now, what's the deal with using well-known actors to do voice-over? Not that I have a HUGE problem with it but for me it just took a little away from the movie the second I heard who would be doing voice-over's(not saying any names). Alot of folks are not happy with the thought of them...(ahem)making the movie a little easier to watch for the American audience. But for all the times I've walked out of theaters hearing people complain "That was stupid, I didn't understand it!" I can kind'of understand Disney's logic(sadly). I still think this can be a great movie. Considering that most havn't seen the original maybe they should've never mentioned the "added info".

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 7:54 p.m. CST

    Mononoke Hime. . .

    by Sith Lord Jesus

    . . .Is the most excellent piece of Anime that I have yet seen. Caught it at a meeting of N.O.V.A., the local anime club I belong to. It was in the raw Japanese, and shown through some sort of wall projector. A most marvellous piece of work, indeed! I've also seen "Kiki's Delivery Service" but not "Totoro;" everyone urges me to see that one, too. I can't wait 'till December when I finally get to go to Japan. I've always been interested in Japanese/Asian culture--and oddly enough, considering one above poster's comment, it was anime that first turned me on to it! Plus this will be my first trip overseas. If I bring back something cool and anime related, Harry, I'll let you know!

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Anime as I know it

    by The Great One

    I have seen Princess Mononoke subtitled and consider it the best animated film of the decade. I understand Gaiman's reasons for the translation changes he made and look forward to seeing it. I have been a fan of this medium (NOT genre) for thirteen years since I saw Robotech and have seen very few good or even decent dubs. Wings of Onneamise, Megazone 23 Part II and Patlabor the Movie 2 were pretty well done. Most of the rest I can only handle the subtitled versions and have lost faith in most dub jobs which are either badly scripted, badly acted or both. As far as most of the trendy anime goes or rather anime that get groups of Americans interested, I tend to stay away from such shows. I thought Akira was visually good, but that's about it. Pokemon is an okay kids show, but not for me. Sailor Moon is too feminine for me. Evangelion is just a total mess. I understood Mononoke was going to be different because so much of the Japanese culture is in this movie. Gaiman's narration is required for us to understand something that is second nature to the Japanese. I believe the American version will be worth the wait as are all Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata projects. Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D 2), Shoji Kawamori (Macross Plus, Kenji's Spring) and Osamu Dezaki (Golgo 13, Black Jack) are also very talented directors worth watching.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 10:02 p.m. CST

    Before you go renting Totoro

    by Malla

    ...Please be aware that, contrary to narf's statement, this film HAS been "Disney-fied". There is a short segment of the two girls being bathed by their father has been excised from the Buena Vista release. I realize this is a small point, but it's worth noting that Disney is not leaving all their Miyazaki untouched (but to be fair, their Kiki was well done both sub and dub). I've seen Mononoke Hime and I urge all of you to support it when it hits your local multi-plex.

  • Aug. 17, 1999, 11:09 p.m. CST

    my "news"...

    by jb

    ...comes from the person in charge of scheduling for a local theater which is considering booking the films. I have heard nothing of the MOMA screenings, but will reconfirm my information at the next opportunity.

  • DUMBING DOWN a movie just so Americans can understand it? SHUT UP! Just because the rest of us aren't interested in following every facet of Japanese culture it makes us stupid? Godamn I get sick and tired of anime freaks who think they're better than everyone else and so damn high and mighty just 'cause they watch crappy animation from a different country. Grow the fuck up you pompous, arrogant assholes

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 12:17 a.m. CST

    The only thing I hate more than smart people are people who watc

    by humonguloust

    Right on Angry! TESTIFY! It burns me up when people criticize the Dumbing Down process, which has made so many of the fruits of genius accessible to my mediocre mind. Why shouldn't I be able to enjoy something just because I am lacking both in faculty and scope? God damn those smug bastards who fly barbed arrows of wit right over my pin-head. Really something ought to be done to eliminate the best from our society. Can't we all just be unremarkable?

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 4:17 a.m. CST

    Touchy

    by YodaButter2000

    It seems like anime fans think they're getting a "purer" experience when they see an anime directly translated with little or no consideration for cultural differences. Most of the times they do their own research to find out what certain things mean, or the history behind certain customs and junk. I think this is all highly commendable and all, but I hate it when they think they're "getting" everything 100%. There are so many things that contribute to a society's culture that there is just no way to fully understand things without being immersed in that society for a long, long time. I am Japanese and speak the language fluently, but I also have been living here all my life. There are just subtle things, especially in an ambitious piece like Mononoke, that are just plain IMPOSSIBLE to transfer to the US. Not because we're dumb or don't want to think (although sadly that seems to be true for too many of us), but because we live in an entirely different culture. Just a little mini-point I wanted to make.

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 4:20 a.m. CST

    Of course...

    by YodaButter2000

    then there are those people that just can't like anime for whatever reason... I just feel sorry for them. It must suck to be stuck in a grey world of inferior imagination.

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 5:06 a.m. CST

    DWD: Lower Your Expectations

    by DwDunphy

    What is everyone posting here thinking? That "Princess Mononoke" is going to change the way America looks at animation? Please don't tell me that everyone is that naive. I truly hope it does well, if not for the sake of anime, but for animation in general, which seems to be taking the hit as of late. But folks, reviewers who do not care about "cultural" this and "tradition of" that and "Mononoke"s impressive run in Japan will have at this like any other CARTOON. Sad to say but there it is. It will be torn apart for the basic tennants of the Japanamation form, it will be torn apart because some reviewers won't appreciate some lowly cartoon trying to be so high-minded. Please folks, don't get so excited by this that you'll feel awful when this stuff eventually comes to pass. I've had my hopes raised and dashed by the mean-spirited spite of American media criticism more than once.

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 6:39 a.m. CST

    Westerners View

    by Pearsquasher

    The problem with Anime in the west is that first few films most people see are Akira, Ghost In The Shell and Ninja Scroll. This is like showing someone Citizen Kane, Star Wars and Pulp Fiction. When the rest of the Anime out there is more akin to Godzilla, Wild Wild West and Hudson Hawk, people are disappointed with the fact that 80% of Anime is shite. -David

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 7:05 a.m. CST

    Mononoke dub

    by Darth Brian

    I've seen the aforementioned dub at the san diego comic-con as well and it was THE best dub I've ever heard. Usually with English DUBS it's apparent that it was quickly translated and everyone is trying to rush to get their lines out as fast as possible. Not so with this one. I completely forgot this movie was originally in Japanese and it sucked me into it. It was over much too quickly. I will definitely go see the English dub again. By the way, I am one of those insane people who only like subtitled versions not just because I want to see exactly how it reads in Japanese, but more importantly, I like to hear the Japanese voice actors who are actually given direction during their dub, as opposed to the American dubbers who just give them the script and let them go with it. You can tell by watching this dub, that the actors were given direction and it makes a much more satisfying movie-watching experience. I urge everyone, anime fan or no, to go see this as soon as it comes out.

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 8:02 a.m. CST

    Re: "Disney-ized" Totoro

    by narf

    Contrary to Malla's comment (which was contrary to mine), every copy of "My Neighbor Totoro" that I have ever seen has had the family bath scene intact. Maybe because the copies I've seen have all been distributed by Fox, not BVHV. Perhaps it's because I live in Canada, and kids animated videos are exempt from classification, so they keep the filmmaker's rating and content. I can understand why American censors would want to cut it. I was a little surpised myself when I first saw it, but then quickly realized that (a) It's a different culture, and (b) A lot of families with young children actually do have baths together. That's life for ya. Until "Mononoke", I'll just keep myself happy singing the Totoro song... "And then you'll be with Totoro... To- toro!"

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 11:24 a.m. CST

    Non-Anime Fan - But I LOVE this movie!!!

    by SnappyGalBladder

    I'm by no means a fan of Anime, but this movie absolutely ROCKS!! It's the first and only Anime I've EVER bought. I plan on buying the DVD version when it comes out. I've already got a SUB bootleg (GASP!) on VHS, but the sound quality is a little crappy (big surprise). Does anyone know if it will be released commercially as both SUB and DUB? I wouldn't mind owning both versions (heck might as well buy the originate Japanese DVD too!). On the SUB -vs- DUB debate. I've watched many movies in both formats (a lot of Jackie Chan for example) and can say that they both have their merits. The SUB versions retain original dialog/emotions/acting and the DUB versions let you enjoy the visual aspects and the dialog at the same time. Do like me, buy both versions and get the best of both worlds. ;-)

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 2:07 p.m. CST

    Just one opinion among many

    by Kaliban

    Alright, I was at the San Diego screening myself and here's my take on the whole thing. First, the movies great. I'm talking un-friggin-believable. I've been waiting to see this film for years and it was worth the wait. The story works on several diffent levels with well fleshed out charcters full of flaw and virtue. The animation itself works with subtle beauty to create an exquisite atmosphere. In short, a classic piece of film, anime or otherwise. As far as the "dumbing-down" issue goes I'll just say that it's not as blatent as the post might make it. Yes, there are certainly scenes where you know that you're getting an explanation but it's nothing to get in a fuss about nor anything that takes away from the film. As far as the voice casting goes I have some mixed feelings. I feel that everybody really did there job and well. I was most impressed by the fact that Pinkett does not really have the "black" dialouge that the post might suggest. In fact, she read the lines like everyone else. A refreshing breath of fresh air considering the rather stupid set of sidekicks we've been forced to endure in the last few Disney pictures. Crudup is amazing as the hero of the feature. The best performance, 'nuff said. I felt Thorton did the best job he could with the character he had but I just didn't find his voice matching the character he was assigned. Nothing horrible, it just didn't click with me. Everybody else did a bang up job and treated the material with respect. Oh well, that's my take on the whole thing. Go see this movie when it arrives in theaters later this year. Hopefully, after this and the Iron Giant, Hollywood might actually get a clue when it comes to making good animation.

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 9:38 p.m. CST

    my two cents...

    by half vader

    Most people either won't be interested or will already know this, but I'll chime in anyway. With all this talk (admittedly more about translation quality than actually) about dubbing, I just wanted to say that in any english-language or Hollywood action film, about 80 - 90% of it is dubbed anyway, including the dialogue. Also, I wish more people knew about Totoro. I have the Fox version on tape and laserdisc (anjd the Japanese version!), and it's one of my all-time faves. Disney just haven't reached this level of pure, un-sacharin-drenched characterisation since Dumbo and Bambi. Nice to know Pixar's John Lasseter is a big Miyazaki fan!

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 10:38 p.m. CST

    Disney?

    by Boss Hog

    What is Disney doing even trying to play around with something like MONONOKE? I was hoping that MONONOKE would be the pinnacle of adult animation, not adult as in demon-cum blasting through anime girls stomachs or adult animation as in "something we can take the kids to see" with a few adult jokes thrown in to keep them watching dancing candlesticks and shit. I am talking like a real adult movie (which is rare enough) except that it is animated. I am expecting any involvement by Disney would thwart that wholeheartedly. Why would they even be interested in this movie? Because the animation is superior to their own? Well, go hire all these great Japanese artists (which they no doubt already have) instead of sabotaging their film by meddling with it by attaching your family friendly/politically paranoid name to it.

  • Aug. 19, 1999, 4:44 p.m. CST

    Totoro bath scene

    by keeba

    The bath scene is in the Fox video of TOTORO available in the US. I have no idea whether the Disney version will have it, but I don't believe they've even begun work on this one yet, so I think whoever claimed that Disney excised the scene doesn't know what they are talking about. Also realize that Disney has to get permission from Ghibli to cut anything. LAPUTA [retitled CASTLE IN THE SKY] is next, and I believe PORCO ROSSO is next after that.

  • Aug. 19, 1999, 5:02 p.m. CST

    Why not Disney?

    by keeba

    They certainly have the best marketing machine at their disposal to get MONONOKE to the widest audience possible. And for the record, they are not "messing" with it. Not one frame of the film has been cut and they retained the Joe Hisaishi music. The only thing Disney has done is to write a new English language script and hire new dub actors. And having seen the dub, they did an exceptional job. Personally, I'm ecstatically happy about the Disney/Ghibli agreement because it means I will finally get to see the rest of Miyazaki's films with the best possible dub and no unsanctioned changes. I've heard for years about the butchery done to NAUSICAA in its only US release and I can't wait to finally see the complete uncut film. Disney released KIKI in both dubbed and subbed versions on video, and there's no reason to expect they won't do the same for MONONOKE. Hopefully, they'll release the lot on DVD with both the dubbed and subbed versions and make everybody happy.

  • Aug. 23, 1999, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Mononoke Comments

    by Salstadt

    Jeez, I never thought posting two word, "dumbing down" would cause so much commotion! I was the guy who posted the long-winded, and "dull" thing above, and maybe I should respond to a few things. Firstly, I didn't mean "dumbing down" as much as makign it more mainstream and American-culture friendly. That means more jokes where there weren't, more explanations where there weren't, and so on. It's not like they sit the viewing audience down like little kids and explain things step by step, but I feel they did change a few things here and there, like adding more jokes or extra developments, to keep the audience's attention. And secondly, I'M an American, and I don't think WE are dumb at ALL when it comes to watchign movies. However, I do think that the movie COMPANIES THINK we are dumb, so that's all I was getting at. I never said we NEEDED more explanation or jokes or the lowest common denominator, just that Disney felt the movie would run better if they slipped a little bit in. And you know what, it does. I'd never trade this version for the original, but I heard more gasps and laughs in that theater than I maybe ever have, and EVERYONE in the audience was on the edge of their seat the whole time, which I guess makes a very sucessful film. Aside from that fact, that this was SUPPOSED to be a nitpicking report. Trust me, you watch this film, you probably aren't gonna notice hardly ANY of the changes, but I wrote the column for a page expressly havign to do with Miyazaki, and those peopel wanted all the little details. It is still the same film it always was, and I really have to commend Disney because they have changed it SO little, that it still retains all of its original glory. Hell, watchign my original sub again, I think Thornton (and here's where I get hit with clubs) actually did a more enjoyable, if not better, job than the Japanese actor who played the same role. And everyoen was tolerable, and good efforts abound and NO ONE, except the anal Miyazaki die-hards (and I'm not one of them believe it or not, I really LOVED this dub) will be dissapointed by this film.

  • March 30, 2000, midnight CST

    Subtitles

    by Mamochan

    I see nothing wrong with a dub, and changes were needed for a theatrical release just as for a tv release, but there needs to be an unchanged fully intact faithfully translated sub of all anime released here when it's time for tape, and DVD doesn't count because the english subs won't be a translation, but a word for word of the english dub (play sonic with Japanese Voice and you'll soon realize that). And, for non-tv non-theatrical releases, they should not be changed at all. Oh, and for the people who say that the anime is mostly perverted, with the exception of the cultural references which may seem slightly perverted, that is actually the exception, not the rule. Most clean anime never gets released over here. Because most american anime fans don't want clean anime. It's the anime fans over here that are perverts, not the anime industry. (no offense to whom the shoe doesn't fit)

  • Aug. 25, 2006, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Subtitles are not kind to the illiterate.

    by Wolfpack