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Writings > DVD Image Comparisons > Howl's Moving Castle/Hauru no Ugoku Shiro


Howl's Moving Castle/Hauru no Ugoku Shiro

Region 1 (USA) - Buena Vista
vs. Region 2 (UK) - Optimum Releasing
vs. Region 2 (Japan) Limited Edition - Buena Vista

 

Details

 

 

DVD

R1 USA
 

 

DVD

R2 UK
 

 

DVD

R2 Japan
 

Disc(s)

 

1x single-sided dual layer (DVD9)
1x single-sided single layer (DVD5)

 

1x single-sided dual layer (DVD9)
1x single-sided single layer (DVD5)

 

4x single-sided dual layer (DVD9)

Running Time

 

119 mins (NTSC)

 

114 mins (PAL)

 

119 mins (NTSC)

Video

 

1.85:1 anamorphic
Average bit rate: 6.4 Mbps
NTSC 720x480 at 24 fps

 

1.85:1 anamorphic
Average bit rate: 8.77 Mbps
PAL 720x576 at 25 fps

 

1.85:1 anamorphic (windowboxed)
Average bit rate: 8 Mbps (Disc 1); 7.86 Mbps (Disc 2)
NTSC 720x480 at 24 fps

Audio

 

English, Japanese:
Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kbps

French:
Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kbps

 

English, Japanese:
Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kbps

 

Disc 1 - Japanese:
Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kbps
DTS-ES 5.1, 768 Kbps

Disc 2 - Japanese, English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese:
Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kbps

Subtitles

 

English (dubtitles), English (subtitles)

 

English (dubtitles), English (subtitles)

 

Japanese, English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese (international disc only)

Extras

 

Disc 1:
- Behind the microphone
- Interview with Pete Docter
- Hello Mr. Lasseter
- Japanese TV spots and trailers
- Sneak peeks

Disc 2:
- Complete storyboards

 

Disc 1:
- Complete storyboards
- Studio Ghibli trailers

Disc 2:
- Interview with Diana Wynne Jones
- Interview with Pete Docter
- Hello Mr. Lasseter
- Explanation of CG
- Japanese TV spots and trailers
- English trailer

 

Disc 1:
- None

Disc 2:
- None

Disc 3:
- Complete storyboards
- Japanese TV spots and trailers
- From Venice International Film Festival to Venezia to Premier preview in US
- Interview with Diana Wynne Jones
- Interview with Pete Docter
- Studio Ghibli trailers
- Preview trailers

Disc 4:
- Moebius and Miyazaki
- US premiere at MoMa
- Hello Mr. Lasseter
- Explanation of CG

- Limited edition glass-encased film cel

 

Bit Rate

R1 USA

DVD Image Comparison


R2 UK

DVD Image Comparison


R2 Japan (Japanese disc)

DVD Image Comparison


R2 Japan (international disc)

DVD Image Comparison

 

Screen Captures

Example 1

Mouse over to switch between versions:
R1 USA | R2 UK | R2 Japan

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 2

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R1 USA | R2 UK | R2 Japan

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 3

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R1 USA | R2 UK | R2 Japan

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 4

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R1 USA | R2 UK | R2 Japan

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 5

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R1 USA | R2 UK | R2 Japan

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 6

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R1 USA | R2 UK | R2 Japan

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 6

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R1 USA | R2 UK | R2 Japan

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 6

Mouse over to switch between versions:
R1 USA | R2 UK | R2 Japan

DVD Image Comparison

 

Comments

Whew, lots of stuff to cover here.

The best transfer is that of the UK release. Despite the fact that it has the entire storyboard stored as an alternate angle (usually a very bad sign), it actually has fewer compression problems (as well as less edge enhancement) than the US release. Also, interestingly, while a few more complex shots have been softened for the US release (see Examples 5 and 8), the UK release remains sharp throughout.

The Japanese release features a vastly inferior transfer, which is very soft and, worse still, shrinks the image into a window, further reducing the available resolution. The reasoning behind this is to minimise overscan issues. This technique was also used on Spirited Away and affected all releases, but thankfully, this time round, the UK and US releases use all the available resolution of their respective PAL and NTSC formats. (Windowboxing, by the way, is a practice that I utterly condemn, unless it's for a 1.66:1 film where the practice is essential in order to have anamorphic enhancement whilst retaining the complete image. As far as I'm concerned, overscan is the user's responsibility to correct, not the studio.)

In terms of audio, the situation becomes somewhat more problematic. On paper, the Japanese release is clearly the more "stacked" of the three releases, featuring a DTS-ES 5.1 mix. However, the Japanese edition does not feature subtitles of any kind for the disc containing the DTS track, meaning that unless you speak Japanese you won't actually be able to make use of it. A separate disc containing a variety of different language and subtitle versions is provided, but its audio mixes are all 2.0 only. In the grand scheme of things, it makes sense to dump DTS in favour of Dolby Digital 5.1 plus subtitles.

For extras, once again the Japanese release would seem to come out on top, but again the issue of subtitles rears its ugly head. Most of the interview featurettes feature a combination of English and Japanese speech, and while some (the John Lasseter, Pete Docter and Diana Wynne Jones interviews) are comprehensible without the aid of subtitles, others are not so fortunate. The same is true of the CG demonstration, which features plenty of visual stimulation but also a great deal of spoken explanation of the more technical issues. In balance, the UK release probably comes out the best, although the Japanese release does have a lot to offer. Note that the US release includes an extra featurette not found on the other two releases, which shows the process of the American dubbing.

Overall, I think the UK release is the one to go for. No, it doesn't contain everything the Japanese disc has, but it contains the most pleasing balance of image quality, audio, subtitles and extras.

 

Summary

 

 

USA

 

UK

 

Japan

Video

 

8/10

 

9/10

 

6/10

Audio

 

9/10

 

9/10

 

8/10

Extras

 

6/10

 

7/10

 

8/10