Anime Film ‘Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko’ Arrives in Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack on July 19

GKIDS and Shout! Factory on July 19 will release Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko, a Japanese anime film from acclaimed director Ayumu Watanabe (Children of the Sea) and STUDIO4°C (MFKZ, Mind Game).

The film will be available in a Blu-ray Disc and DVD combo pack that may be ordered early at GKIDS.com and ShoutFactory.com.

Based on a novel of the same name by Kanako Nishi, Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko follows the story of a brash single mother named Nikuko who is well known for her bold spirit, and her pensive yet imaginative daughter Kikuko. In contrast to her mother, Kikuko wants nothing more than to fit in as she navigates the everyday social dramas of middle school. Their peaceful life in the harbor is threatened when a shocking revelation from the past begins to challenge the pair’s tender relationship.  

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The film won the Axis: The Satoshi Kon Award for Excellence in Animation at the Fantasia International Film Festival and was also nominated for Best Independent Feature at the 49th Annual Annie Awards.

Bonus features include a “making of” documentary, trailers and footage from various events.

Shout! Factory, GKIDS Set Home Dates for Anime Feature ‘Pompo the Cinephile’

Shout! Factory and GKIDS have announced home release dates for the acclaimed animated feature Pompo the Cinephile.

The film will make its home entertainment debut on digital platforms June 28 and in a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack on July 12.

An entertaining yet heartfelt story about the joys and heartbreak of the creative process, Pompo the Cinephile comes with numerous bonus features including audio commentary by the director and crew, feature-length storyboards, a character design gallery and more! Fans can place advance orders for the film at ShoutFactory.com or GKIDS.com.

Based on the popular manga series by Shogo Sugitani, Pompo the Cinephile made its North American premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival (where it was nominated for the Satoshi Kon Award) and screened at the Sitges Film Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, and the Animation Is Film before being nominated for Best Independent Feature at the 49th Annual Annie Awards.

In the film, Pompo is a talented and gutsy producer in “Nyallywood,” the movie-making capital of the world. Although she’s known for ‘B’ movies, one day Pompo tells her movie-loving but apprehensive assistant Gene that he will direct her next script: a delicate drama about an aging and tormented creative genius, starring the legendary and Brando-esque actor Martin Braddock, and a young actress seeking her first break. The production heads toward chaos and Gene has to do everything in his power to rise to the occasion.

50th Anniversary Release of Anime Classic ‘Panda! Go Panda!’ Due on Disc June 21

GKIDS and Shout! Factory have announced the June 21 release of Panda! Go Panda!, a 1972 Japanese animated children’s film directed by Isao Takahata and written by Hayao Miyazaki.

Timed to its 50th anniversary, the film will be available in a Blu-ray Disc with DVD combo pack and will include the 1973 release Rainy Day Circus, where the story continues.

Panda! Go Panda! follows the story of a cheerful young girl named Mimiko, who is left on her own while her grandmother is away. When little Panny Panda and his father Papanda stumble into her home, Mimiko welcomes them in as her new family. Adventures ensue, as Mimiko discovers the challenges of taking care of her new friends.

Making its North American debut, the film comes with special features including the “From Mimi to Heidi, From Papanda to Totoro” interview, “Panda! Go Panda! Exhibit — The Impact of Hayao Miyazaki’s Image Boards,” a 1994 conversation with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, trailers, and previews.

Shout! Factory, GKIDS in June to Release Three Makoto Shinkai Anime Classics on Blu-ray Disc

GKIDS, with distribution by Shout! Factory, on June 7 will release new Blu-ray Disc editions of three early masterworks by acclaimed anime director Makoto Shinkai.

The three films, The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004), 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007) and Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011), come loaded with bonus features including audio commentaries, interviews with Shinkai, storyboards, trailers and more. The 5 Centimeters Per Second Blu-ray Disc will include Shinkai’s lauded short films Voices of a Distant Star and She and Her Cat. Fans can preorder their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com or GKIDS.com.

Shinkai’s feature film debut, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, is the haunting story of friendship and loss set in an alternate post-war Japan. Three teenagers become obsessed with a mysterious tower across the Union border, which reaches far into the sky. Hiroki and Takuya work on a makeshift airplane, which they promise their friend Sayuri they will use to visit the tower together someday, but she disappears before it is completed. Several years later, the tower suddenly activates, starting a phenomenon that threatens the world. And the young men now discover their long-lost friend Sayuri may hold the key to it all. The Place Promised in Our Early Days is the winner of Best Animated Film at Mainichi Film Award, Silver Prize at Fantasia Film Festival, and Award for Expression Technique at the Tokyo International Anime Fair.

Told in three vignettes, 5 Centimeters Per Second: A Chain Of Short Stories About Their Distance explores the joys and heartache of falling in love. Takaki yearns to spill his heart out for childhood crush Akari, but both their families move away before any feelings can fully blossom. They stay in touch, but eventually drift apart with school and new friends to distract them. As the seasons pass, Takaki navigates his relationships while haunted by all the things he left unsaid with Akari, his first love. Also included is Voices of a Distant Star, the debut film from Makoto Shinkai, available for the first time on Blu-ray in North America. 5 Centimeters Per Second was winner of Best Animated Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below is an epic fantasy adventure in a world of ancient gods. Asuna is an introvert who prefers spending her time listening to a radio left by her deceased father. One day, she hears an odd song that resonates in her heart unlike anything else. It leads to a chance encounter with a mysterious boy, who transports Asuna to Agartha, a land of legend where the dead can be brought back to life. Compelled by the song and the boy, Asuna journeys through the mythical lands, but hostile warriors and ghastly creatures will stop at nothing to prevent Asuna from uncovering the secrets of their world. Children Who Chase Lost Voices was nominated for Best Feature at Annecy and winner of Best Art Direction at the Tokyo Anime Award.

GKIDS, Shout! Factory Set Digital, Disc Release Dates for ‘Belle’

Belle, the critically hailed anime film from Academy Award-nominated director Mamoru Hosoda, will be released to home viewers in May by GKIDS and Shout! Factory.

The film will be available through digital retailers on May 3, and on Blu-ray Disc (in a DVD combo pack) two weeks later, on May 17. 

A heartfelt story of growing up in the era of social media, Belle also will be available in a Steelbook edition exclusive to Target.

The Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and Steelbook editions will come with a number of bonus features, including a conversation with director Hosoda, the featurettes “The Making of Belle,” “The Music of Belle,” and “Finding the Voice of Belle,” a documentary on the drawing of Belle, a design gallery and scene breakdowns.

Digital versions of the film will be available both in the original Japanese and as an English dub, while the Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and Steelbook editions will contain both Japanese and English versions. 

Belle‘s English voice cast includes Chace Crawford, Manny Jacinto, Kylie McNeill and Hunter Schafer. 

Advance orders for the film may be placed now at ShoutFactory.com.

Limited-Edition Steelbooks of Anime Films ‘Only Yesterday,’ ‘Tale of the Princess Kaguya’ Due April 19

Studio Ghibli and GKIDS on April 19 will release limited-edition Steelbooks of  Only Yesterday and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, two animated films from Academy Award-nominated director Isao Takahata.

Only Yesterday will also be available as a Blu-ray Disc and DVD combo pack, and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya as a single DVD/two-Blu-ray Disc package.

Only Yesterday follows the story of 27-year-old Taeko, who, having lived her whole life in the city, decides to visit relatives in the countryside. As she travels, memories of her youth resurface, and after meeting young farmer Toshio, she wonders if she’s been true to the dreams of her childhood.

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Bonus features include a making-of documentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette with the voice cast, an interview with the English dub team, feature-length storyboards, trailers and TV spots.

In The Tale of Princess Kaguya, a young girl who is found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife grows into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess who enthralls all who encounter her is forced to confront her fate and embark on a transformative journey.

Bonus features include a feature-length documentary, “Isao Takahata and His Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” the official announcement of the completion of the film, trailers, and TV spots.

In addition to the bonus features, the Steelbooks also include a booklet with art, as well as statements from the filmmakers.

Wide-Release ‘Weathering With You’ 4K Blu-ray Arriving Jan. 4

Shout! Factory and GKIDS are re-releasing the 2019 anime film Weathering With You 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack in standard packaging Jan. 4, 2022.

The 4K disc was previously released in November 2020 as part of a limited-edition Blu-ray boxed set that included a CD soundtrack, booklet, mini-poster and additional swag.

The film from director Makoto Shinkai and the creative team, including producer Genki Kawamura, behind the critically-acclaimed Your Name, features music from the hit band RADWIMPS, and is backed by an all-star voice cast including Lee Pace, Alison Brie and Riz Ahmed.

The summer of his high school freshman year, Hodaka runs away from his remote island home to Tokyo, and quickly finds himself pushed to his financial and personal limits. The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future. He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine. Then one day, Hodaka meets Hina on a busy street corner. This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky.

Bonus Features include an interview with Shinkai, a “Weather Front” featurette, “Talk Show: Makoto Shinkai and Yumiko Udo”; a director filmography featurette, and trailers and TV spots.

‘Earwig and the Witch’ Bows on Digital in March, Blu-ray Disc and DVD in April

Studio Ghibli has announced the March 23 release of Earwig and the Witch, a Japanese 3DCGG animated feature directed by Goro Miyazaki (From Up on Poppy Hill, Tales from Earthsea) and produced by studio co-founder Toshio Suzuki.

The film will first be available on digital platforms. On April 6 consumers can buy the film in a limited edition Steelbook and a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack from from GKIDS, with distribution from Shout! Factory.

Based on the children’s novel Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones, the film follows the story of a little girl named Earwig who is growing up in an orphanage in the British countryside. Her life is changed dramatically when a strange couple takes her in, and she is forced to live with a selfish witch. Having no idea her birth mother had magical powers, she sets out to uncover the secrets of her new guardians and, in the process, discovers a world of spells, potions, and a mysterious song that may be the key to finding the family she has always wanted.

Bonus features include feature-length storyboards, a documentary on the creating the film, interviews with the Japanese voice cast, teasers and trailers.

An official selection for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, Earwig and the Witch saw its premier in Japan on December 30, 2020 and is scheduled for release in theaters beginning Feb. 3.

Shout! Factory, GKIDS to Release ‘On-Gaku’ in March On Disc, Digital

GKIDS and Shout! Factory have announced a March 9 home release date for On-Gaku: Our Sound, an anime film animated and directed by Japanese filmmaker Kenji Iwaisawa.

The film will be available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and digital platforms.

Based on the comics by Hiroyuki Ohashi, the film follows the story of a feared trio of high school delinquents who, having no skills, money, or even a full set of drums, decide they are destined for musical glory. They embark on the quest to impress their only friend Aya, avoid a rival gang, and — most importantly — jam out.

Featuring a lead performance by Japanese alt-rock legend Shintaro Sakamato, On-Gaku: Our Sound was an official selection at the 2020 Annecy Film Festival, and winner of the Nelvana Grand Prize at the 2019 Ottawa International Animation Festival.

In addition to a feature-length “making of” documentary, bonus features (exclusive to the Blu-ray and DVD release) include a live musical performance, “On-Gaku” (demo); “Our Movie: Behind the Scenes”; a rock festival pencil test; three short films by Kenji Iwaisawa, Mountain, Mourning Ice Pop, Nicky, and Taro Wanted to be Water; a gallery of storyboards; and trailers.

GKIDs, Shout! Factory to Send ‘Marona’ Home Nov. 10

GKIDS and Shout! Factory have announced the Nov. 10 home release of Marona’s Fantastic Tale, a new animated film from award-winning director Anca Damian (Crulic: The Path to Beyond).

The film will be available digitally and as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Both the French version with subtitles and an English-language version will be included in the release. Bonus features include an interview with the director Anca Damian, a Q&A from the Animation Is Film Festival, an art gallery and trailers.

Marona’s Fantastic Tale is about an optimistic stray dog named Marona who looks back on the human companions she has loved throughout her life. Born the last in the litter, little Marona’s adventures take her through a series of names and owners ­— a colorful acrobat, a sensitive construction worker, and a little girl — with dazzling style. But through all of her ups and downs, Marona’s Fantastic Tale is told with the patient, boundless love of a dog, reminding us that happiness is a small thing.

In addition to Anca Damian, artists behind Marona’s Fantastic Tale include character designer Brecht Evens, an award-winning Belgian cartoonist and Eisner Award nominee who is known for his bright, stylized art, and background artists Gine Thorstensen from Norway and Sarah Mazetti from Italy.

The film had a virtual cinema release this summer, with further theatrical engagements planned for this fall as theaters re-open.