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2017-01-28

Horus, Prince of the Sun Blu-Ray Arrives in March


On January 12, Discotek Media finally made it official: the landmark anime masterpiece Horus, Prince of the Sun is coming to Blu-Ray in March. I am really excited to finally share this with you, and all Ghibli Freaks should start saving their pennies.

Back in September, I was contacted by Discotek about their plans for the Horus Blu-Ray. It was something that I had anticipated as soon as I finished production on the DVD, and already had begun preliminary work on the future project. Once the official word was given, I immediately got to work.

The biggest addition to the Horus BD is an all-new audio commentary track, written and recorded by me. This replaces the audio track I recorded for the DVD, and it is vastly superior in every way. On this new audio commentary, I discuss the production of the film, the film's technical innovations, the early career of director Isao Takahata, and the influence of this film on the career of Hayao Miyazaki. We discuss who created the cast of characters (something I discovered when digging around asian fansites), the debate over "Horus" versus "Hols," the story behind the title "Little Norse Prince," and themes involving the Vietnam War and the role of the individual in society.

When recording the DVD commentary, I wanted to just riff in a conversational tone, using note cards as a reference point. That strategy proved to be an embarrassing failure as I suffered a terrible bout of stage fright. I felt like the frog from "One Froggy Evening," and I had to drag every thought and sentence out of my mouth over the course of a week. Finally, I started writing better notes, and took refuge in reading essays from other writers and scholars in the Ghibli fan community. I was found myself reading a Google translation of Buta Connection's Horus essays from French into a slightly mangled Engrish. And all of this happened very late at night. I recorded a series of short audio tracks and finally reached the end as dawn broke on deadline day. I sent over my work right at the moment of the final deadline, and I am eternally grateful to the Discotek crew for their support and patience.

I fought, struggled, quit, felt dejected, returned to the mike, fought another three rounds, and finally completed my first DVD audio commentary. It was hell, but I made it to the finish, completely exhausted. And let us not forget that I also wrote/edited the English subtitles (four revisions, no less), wrote/edited nearly all the bonus material (the only features not mine were Mike Toole's excellent audio commentary and the video interviews), wrote an "official" press release, and wrote the sales page for Amazon and other online retailers. And, of course, I fought like hell for the proper movie title, "Horus, Prince of the Sun" (Toei wanted Discotek to only use "Little Norse Prince").

For the Blu-Ray, I was much more prepared. The written essays were given a much-needed revision and copy edit, I updated the "riffs" feature to include more films, and I wrote a new description for the back cover, which is a great improvement (the DVD lifted the cover text from the Optimum UK DVD). The new audio commentary was the main focus. I wrote an extensive script for the entire length of the film, roughly 10,000 words, covering every Horus-related topic I could find.

Using a $40 USB microphone and a MacBook Pro in my apartment living room, I recorded nine audio tracks (breaking things up into smaller thematic segments) over the course of a long Saturday evening. I did several takes of each audio track, and felt far more loose and comfortable. I even recorded a final "thank you" track at the very end, just to be sure the commentary would run the full length of the movie. When finished, I felt very tired but very satisfied. I left nothing on the table, and said everything that needed to be said.

I have been a huge fan of Horus, Prince of the Sun ever since the earliest days of Ghibli Blog. Working on these projects have been an absolute thrill for me, and a true labor of love. I wanted to give this great movie the "Criterion" treatment that it deserves, and raise the bar for anime on home video. I just wanted to inspire everyone. I hope you will be inspired by this amazing movie.

As always, much thanks for your support. I consider this new BD to be the definitive take on Horus, and I can't wait for you to hold your own copy in your hands. I'll eagerly await your reviews and comments, and look forward to the next movie project. Be sure to pre-order your copy at Amazon today!

5 comments:

Brandon Novy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I Make Comments said...

I quite enjoyed Discotek's Blu-ray release of The Castle of Cagliostro, so I'm really looking forward to this. I held off from purchasing Horus when it came out on DVD, knowing that the Blu-ray would come out eventually. I'm looking forward to your audio commentary as well. I'm glad it was much better second time around.

Konstantinos said...

I appreciate all the work you've done for this bluray, but the existing one was most probably a DVD upscale. I don't suppose the things changed for this bluray, right?

StephenM said...

Thanks for all your hard work, man, we appreciate it! I am a happy owner of the Horus DVD, and while I may not upgrade to the BD too soon, I am delighted to hear it's out there.

daniel thomas said...

The question of Horus BD source has been discussed in the past, and the only honest answer I can give is "I don't know." Some comparisons were made between the Discotek DVD and Japanese Blu-Ray, and they appeared to be very similar, if not identical.

On the other hand, I was given some screenshots by Discotek from the Blu-Ray which looked very good. The screen size was larger, and the picture quality was excellent. Those photos did not appear to be upscaled from DVD.

I can confidently say that Discotek's Horus DVD looks much better than the old DVD source used on the 2000 Japanese DVD. That version was actually taken from the CAV LaserDisc version of Horus, and was considerably outdated by the time the DVD was released in the UK and France. It appears that Toei provided a new master source for the Discotek DVD.

I don't know what source materials were used, or if the original camera negative has been preserved. I've always suspected that the colors should be more vibrant and vivid, if print materials from the period are to be believed. But that might just be me. Movie stills become extra-saturated when transferred to print.

Whatever its source, I am confident Horus on Blu-Ray will look terrific and better than the previous DVD release. And don't forget that it features my all-new audio commentary, as well as an updated and revised "riffs" feature. This is the definitive version of the movie, the best anywhere in the world. I highly recommend buying it when it arrives this March.

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