October 8th, 2006

Anime-Eye from Haze no shana

My Neighboring Regions

One of the oddest things about following weblogs socially is that, for the first time in my life, I'm well tuned in to major events on television. Last night in the UK, the new Robin Hood series debuted. The consensus is that it was adequate, it was visually decent, but the plot and characters were nothing to write home about. It's a series which takes no real risks. Also last night was a documentary on Meatloaf's albums, in honor of the release of Bat out of Hell III. Meanwhile, back in the states, the new Battlestar Galactica series three premiere was on, and it was tense. I know all this, and I wasn't even watching television last night.

What I was watching was My Neighbor Totoro, for the first time. The classic Studio Ghibli movie is a quietly eventful tale of two sisters who move to a new, possibly haunted, house in the countryside with their father, while their mother is in the hospital for some unspecified diseaes or cold. The house and countryside are alive with a scattering of spirits: "dustbunnies" and troll-like fuzzy creatures which the younger sister identifies as Totoros. There is just enough angst in ailing mothing and getting lost in the countryside to provide depth of plot, and just enough adventure, from exploring the countryside and the new house to getting to know the neighbors of all sorts to keep it moving. The usual Miyazaki environmental themes are present, but they aren't heavy-handed here.

Watching the movie, and the ads for the rest of the "Studio Ghibli Collection", currently on sale here, got me to thinking of the ironies of DVD region enforcement. The whole idea behind region enforcement is to encourage people to buy their DVDs locally, to be bound by the local release dates determined by the content owners. Yet worldwide, the enforcement doesn't hold. Region-free DVD players are widely and legally available in the UK, among many other places. The US, it seems to be, is one of the few places left which stringently enforces it on the players, and even then, for most operating systems, hacks are widely and successfully available.

Macintoshes can be sensitive creatures though, and so I have a laptop which is locked to region 1. And I live in region 2. What this means is that, entirely contrary to the concept behind regioning, I have every incentive in continuing to get my DVDs from North America instead of locally. I can't play the local disks on my machine. This isn't a major inconvenience, since we have a region-free DVD player as well, but it's still a limiting factor, and a perverse one at that.