Home Video Picks & Passes 12.20.20

Japan’s Studio Ghibli has new releases on Blu-ray.

‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ is new on Blu-ray.
‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ is new on Blu-ray. (photo: Studio Ghibli)

Castle in the Sky (1986) — PICK
From Up on Poppy Hill (2011) — PICK
Spirited Away (2001) — PICK

Integrity and empathy, hard work and initiative, ritual, and family ties are common themes in the gorgeously animated films of Japan’s Studio Ghibli. For examples, look no further than these new Blu-ray releases from SHOUT! Factory.

When Chihiro, the young heroine of Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning masterpiece Spirited Away, turns a wrong corner and stumbles into an intimidating spirit world, she encounters layer upon layer of mystery that can be navigated only through trust, courage and virtue.

The two young protagonists of Miyazaki’s steampunk swashbuckler Castle in the Sky discover the importance of compassion over corrupting power, of humble closeness to the Earth.

The lesser-known coming-of-age charmer From Up on Poppy Hill, cowritten by Miyazaki and directed by his son Goro, explores honoring the past while facing the future from the perspective of a typically responsible heroine growing up in a Japanese coastal village in 1963.

Bonus Pick! Now on Netflix, the 28-minute Aardman short Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas is as irresistible as Shaun’s wordless adventures nearly always are.

CAVEAT SPECTATOR: Spirited Away: Pagan-influenced fantasy with nature-spirits; frightening situations; recurring menace. Teens and up. Castle in the Sky: Sci-fi action violence; brief animist-leaning commentary. Kids and up. From Up on Poppy Hill: Nothing objectionable, but some complex emotional material. Older kids and up.