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Hayao Miyazaki is the prominent director of many popular animated feature films. He is also the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, the award-winning Japanese animation studio and production company behind worldwide hits such as PRINCESS MONONOKE, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE and SPIRITED AWAY.
Director Miyazaki's animated films Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are immensely popular among the manga/anime set. This is the four-part print adaptation of his third children's film, from 1986, which Disney released on DVD in April. The story concerns Sheeta, a princess in exile from the lost aerial kingdom Laputa, and her orphaned inventor friend Pazu, as they're chased by various scary military types and assisted by air pirates as they try to rescue a magic levitation stone. Miyazaki's production design is gorgeous, and the full-color reproduction is nicely authentic-anime buffs will drool over the floating city, cleverly retro-looking airships, half-rusted giant robot soldiers, lush landscapes and sensitively handled lighting in every scene. As with Miyazaki's other stories, the plot provides one enormous spectacle after another, almost nonstop action with very little actual violence. But the adaptation is simply a series of images captured from the movie, and much is lost in translation (both from Japanese into English and from motion into still frames). The ornately orchestrated set pieces that are Miyazaki's hallmark are often static or baffling on the page. Devotees of the movie will enjoy the chance to pore over its details in a facsimile of the Japanese manga version (there's even a glossary for the original Japanese sound effects), but the uninitiated are likely to be perplexed. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.