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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.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 8th, 2006 06:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Umm . . . well, . .
Yes indeed - about 5 or 6 times, I believe. I've done it once, not wanting to end up stuck in the region from which most of my DVDs are not. I bought most of what I have in Canada, especially anime series, and the series are the things I'm most likely to want to watch on my laptop, i.e. things C. is less likely to be interested in watching. All this would change if the UK became a better market for anime, as there would be more for me to want to buy here at reasonable prices.
Oct. 8th, 2006 10:18 pm (UTC)
Ah, coincidneces... I was wandering through Fopp earlier in the week and bought "My Neighbour Totoru" although I have yet to watch it...

As for region-encoding... no-one who has sat down and thought about it has ever claimed it makes sense... Theoretically, as an anti-piracy tool, it is fundamentally flawed -- it is easy to make bit-for-bit copies of locked DVDs anyway, flashing DVD drives or unlocking DVD players is easy and common place, and the ease of ordering stuff over the internet makes the region-based release dates a mockery as well...

Kind of pleased but disappointed (or disappointed but pleased) that the new RH show isn't met with raptuorous approval, although Auntie is reporting that it drew 8.2m viewers...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )