2005 Anime Preview by Rich (Webmaster)

Despite the release of Spirited Away the news that Optimum Releasing would be creating a label specifically for Asian cinema and had licensed some anime titles to release under it still came as a big surprise.  Optimum Asia's first anime title - Isao Takahata's heart rending classic Grave of the Fireflies - couldn't have been a better one, and they followed up in style with the highly rated gothic actioner Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.  2005 promises to yield more Ghibli goodness and there may be other interesting titles on the way too.

Howl's Moving Castle - God do we want to see this film...

It prompted a six minute standing ovation on its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, it's by the guy who brought us no less than five of the films in our Essentials list...  To say that we would offer limbs to see Hayao Miyazaki's latest film - Howl's Moving Castle - is no understatement.  Based on a popular children's fantasy novel by Welsh author Diana Wynne-Jones, Howl's Moving Castle has drawn plaudits from critics across the globe, and we will be amongst the first in line when it hits UK cinema screens in the last quarter of 2005.

Cheerful family fun in The Cat Returns

Howl's Moving Castle isn't the only Ghibli title Optimum will be bringing our way in 2005 though, we will also be treated to the Cinema and DVD release of The Cat Returns.  Although not directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, The Cat Returns is great fun and will most likely prove popular with family audiences.  No details of other titles have been announced as yet, but we would not be surprised to see some more high quality films - perhaps further Ghibli releases.

Our Opinion

Although only two anime titles were released on the Optimum Asia label in 2004, and only two more are currently announced for this year, we are looking forward to big things in 2005.  Optimum are in the great position of not being entirely focused on anime and having a bit of money, this means they are under no pressure to release a set number of titles per month and spread their budget around needlessly.  We have been informed that Optimum are looking at a number of, as yet, unnamed anime titles for potential release, but the focus is firmly on quality over quantity.  This attitude is something that excites us, the potential is here for a release schedule of unrivalled quality and we will most definitely be keeping a close eye on their releases in the next twelve months.

New Titles Confirmed For Release in 2005
(Dates in brackets indicate release of 1st volume)

Howl's Moving Castle (September TBC - Cinema)
A young girl called Sophie is turned into a 90 year old woman by the Witch of the Wastes, and seeks the help of the fearsome sorcerer Howl to help lift the curse.

The Cat Returns (March - Cinema; TBC - DVD)
A girl rescues a cat from being run over, and as a reward she is given the honour of marrying a cat prince!  Her only hope in avoiding turning into a cat for the wedding is the enigmatic Baron, but will he be enough?

Other Possibilities
The following is purely speculation, nothing more

Millennium Actress - Unusual psychological drama
My Neighbours the Yamadas
- Light hearted family comedy
My Neighbour Totoro - Whimsical fantasy
Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind - Ecological sci-fi drama
Only Yesterday - Life affirming drama
Pom Poko - Ecological fantasy drama
Porco Rosso - Fun filled actioner
Whisper of the Heart - Heartwarming romance