Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed figures in the history of animation, directing films like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away that stand as great works of cinema regardless of the format. Unfortunately, while the Studio Ghibli co-founder enjoys a significant international profile, it hasn’t always been easy to find some of his less celebrated works in North America.
That’s about to change thanks to a new Blu-Ray box set coming to Amazon in the fall. The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki includes all eleven of the director’s feature length films, a list that begins with 1979’s Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro and ends with 2013’s The Wind Rises. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo round out the intervening years.
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As much as I try to maintain a dispassionate critical distance, sometimes enthusiasm spills over like a cup that’s been filled to the brim with liquid nostalgia and overloads the rational part of my brain. Such is the case with Cuphead, the new indie game from Studio MDHR that took center stage at Microsoft’s E3 press conference. The game is slated for release on Xbox One and Steam in 2016 and it can’t get here soon enough.
Simply put, Cuphead looks amazing. The game is inspired by 1930s animation, drawing heavily on classics like Betty Boop and the early Disney canon. Cuphead reproduces the style with so much fidelity that you’d swear the game was actually made in 1936, largely because it’s being made with techniques that haven’t been in vogue since 1936. Brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer have pulled out all the stops with traditional hand-drawn cel animation, watercolor backgrounds, and original jazz and blended them with modern game development technology to make a hybrid that’s genuinely seductive if you’re a fan of classic animation.