BLU-RAY REVIEW – Ponyo Limited Deluxe Edition + DVD

By Marty Mulrooney


Optimum Home Entertainment have just released a special Limited Deluxe Edition (+ DVD copy) of Studio Ghibli’s most recent masterpiece, Ponyo, on Blu-ray. I reviewed the film for AMO when it was originally in the cinema, so I wasn’t planning to review the home release when it arrived. However, once I got my hands on this Limited Deluxe Edition I knew I would have to share my thoughts on this delightful set with as many people as I possibly could!

For those who haven’t see this film yet, you can read my original review here. Suffice to say, if you love Studio Ghibli, you will love Ponyo. Although perhaps slightly lighter on story than the studio’s previous efforts (this one is aimed strictly at the kids) the animation is breathtaking and it has held my attention 100% the three times I have watched it so far.

The reason this edition is so special is due in part to the wonderfully thought out digi-pack style packaging. This really is a film that makes full use of its watery setting, and Optimum has transferred that strength to the packaging art. Of course, cardboard will never be as durable as plastic (mine arrived with a bent corner, thanks once again Royal Mail!) but everything is held together really well and I was suitably impressed once I opened it up.

The included art cards are really nice too: I can imagine them looking excellent framed and hung up if a buyer chose to do so. The vivid colours really leap out at you, just like in the film. The stickers I will never use, but they are a nice inclusion I guess and I am sure kids would love them.

But of course, the most important aspect of this release is exactly how much better the film looks in high definition. Thankfully, Ponyo in 1080p HD is a triumph. It looks amazing, I cannot describe just how vivid and razor sharp everything looks. This is one of the best HD releases I have ever seen. The included DVD copy (although seeming slightly wasteful and redundant to me personally) is an excellent point of comparison: although it looks excellent, the DVD copy cannot even begin to approach the colour reproduction and sense of awe that the Blu-ray evokes.

Some very strict Ghibli purists may baulk at the International Print present on the Blu-ray disk: this basically means that the opening and closing credits are presented in English regardless of language selection. I am sure with seamless branching this could have been fixed (I am unsure if it was for the US release) but it is a very minor issue to my mind. Still, it has to be taken into account. The earlier US release caused grumbles itself due to only having a Japanese Dolby 5.1 track, but here that is rectified with an amazing Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 track, as well as the previously confirmed English LPCM 5.1 track.

We now come to the special features, which are all in 1080p HD, and actually feature some stuff not present on the US Disney release!

Special Features:

• Storyboards and Trailers
• Introducing Ponyo: Intro by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall
• Interviews:
• Hayao Miyazaki
• Toshio Sazuki
• Hayao Miyazaki by John Lasseter
• Featurettes: The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo
• Behind The Microphone: The Voices Of Ponyo
• Creating Ponyo
• Ponyo and Fujimoto
• The Nursery
• Scoring Miyazaki
• The Producer’s Perspective
• Telling The Story
• The Locations in Ponyo
• Japanese TV Spots
• Dubbing Session and Interview with Japanese Cast
• Music Video of Theme Song

Overall, this is an amazing selection of special features. Although some only run for a few short minutes, none of them feel boring or padded out. It is also really nice to see not only the English voice cast at work (including Tina Fey!) but to see the original Japanese cast doing their thing too. Everyone involved seems very passionate about what they are doing and this adds to the enjoyment of these features substantially. The regular Blu-ray has the same contents of course but misses out on the nicer case, art cards and stickers, which I feel is worth spending the extra couple of quid on for the Deluxe Edition.

Basically, if you are a fan of Studio Ghibli and own a Blu-ray player, don’t miss out on this!

Ponyo Film – 8 OUT OF 10

Blu-ray Package – 9 OUT OF 10

Alternative Offerings:


Filed under Film

8 responses to “BLU-RAY REVIEW – Ponyo Limited Deluxe Edition + DVD

  1. So do you think they will release an english subbed version of Ponyo on DVD? That’s what I truly want! I love watching Studio Ghibli films with subtitles, just feels more authentic to me. I still may have to get this special edition package just to tie me over though…

    • Marty Mulrooney

      You already can watch it with subs! Both DVD and Blu-ray allow you to play the film in the original language, or dubbed, with subtitles.

  2. Steve

    Do the discs in your set line up with the art on the packaging? Mine sit about 1-2cm too low which is really disappointing – it defeats the purpose of having the discs printed the same as the background and doesn’t look too good.

    Given that you’ve said it’s “wonderfully thought out”, I’m wondering if mine is somehow an exception. My thoughts were upon opening it were more that it was poorly thought out (or at least, very poorly executed).

    • Marty Mulrooney

      The background on mine did seem to mostly line up – the disks were slightly tilted though, not straight! What I mean is, the disk on the left leaned slightly left and the disk on the right leaned slightly right.

      However, upon closer inspection you are indeed correct: even when the disks are sat in this manner, the background seems several cm too high for the artwork on the top of the disks. It was only after further inspection due to your comments that I realised that the disks are supposed to be situated straight afterall (not tilted), yet rest far too low on the background.

      Sadly, this is not an isolated incident at all: my Spaced DVD set had a similar issue, as did all of my Sopranos DVDs. Ponyo seems less severe than these two cases (very busy background), but the problem has still sadly reared its ugly head.

      When saying it is “wonderfully thought out” I was referring to the package as a whole (which I have opened now for this post and still think looks great overall) and hadn’t realised the full extent of this specific issue with regards to Ponyo. I can now agree with your disappointment about this oversight: why do DVD manufacturers do this?

      • Steve

        I’ve rotated my discs a full 360 degrees and there’s no way to get it to line up on both sides. If the images connect on the left side of the disc, they’re even more out of order on the right than if the disc was level.

        It’s such a disappointment, especially because it’s such great packaging otherwise. It seems like such an obvious mistake too, one that could have been easily corrected. If the discs lined up as advertised, this could possibly be the nicest BD/DVD packaging in my collection. As it is, I’d prefer if the discs had different images entirely.

        I actually e-mailed Optimum on Monday regarding the issue. It’s not unheard of for a problem like this to be the fault of the manufacturer and for the distributor to be entirely unaware that things didn’t go as planned. However, I’m yet to hear back from them at all after almost a full working week, which doesn’t bode well.

    • Marty Mulrooney

      Sadly, I often find that mistakes like these are never rectified. Annoying to say the least! This affects several DVD’s in my collection, bought over a number of years.

      Let me know if you get a reply!

  3. WKS

    Stumbled here and was wondering if the blu-ray is region encoded? Thanks

    • Marty Mulrooney

      Welcome to AMO! This Ponyo Blu-ray is indeed region encoded, to Region B. I hope this helps!

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