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 Updated Sept. 23, 2002
No-Name Anime Events
Spirited Away Premiere at Pixar
On September 15, Pixar opened its doors for a Spirited Away premiere that was also a fund-raiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. A couple of the staff decided to brave the roads (and the high ticket cost) to go so we could show you what it was like. The biggest reason to go for an anime fan was that Hayao Miyazaki himself would be there. A second good reason was that we know some people who suffer from diabetes, so this seemed like a worthwhile donation. It was also a rare chance to see the inside of Pixar, as they normally don't open their doors to the public. Finally, the movie showing would be accompanied by Pixar's new short film, Mike's New Car (included on the Monsters Inc DVD), and would be shown on a state-of-the-art digital projection system. How could we not go?

Other sites have reported on the dub from the El Capitan premiere down in Los Angeles, so we won't go into too much detail here. We'll just say that, contrary to some reports, it didn't sound like the soundtrack had been changed at all. Overall, the quality of the dub was quite good. They obviously tried very hard to match the English-speaking voices to the original Japanese ones, although a few (froggy and Lin) weren't as close as the others. It's hard to complain about Lin's voice, though, as it was done by Susan Egan, the sumptuous voice of Meg in Disney's Hercules.

Before the films, John Lasseter (one of the great directors at Pixar) came out to speak briefly. He explained that Pixar has been doing benefit showings for a few years now, usually for the premiere of one of their own films. This showing obviously had special significance for him, though, as one of his kids was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago. John Ratzenberger (Cliff from Cheers and a voice in each of Pixar's films to date), who also has a child with diabetes, was present as well, and contributed each character's voice from the back row. (A nice aside: Lasseter mentioned that one of the things they did for Miyazaki, given the man's love of airplanes, was to take him on a tour of the wine country in a biplane.)

Finally, Mr. Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki (producer for Miyazaki's films) spoke briefly. Miyazaki-san didn't say too much, but thanked everyone, and added that he was extremely envious of the theater ceiling there at Pixar. None of us could see why at the time, so we had to wait and see. Mr. Suzuki asked us to remember to spread the word about the movie if we liked it (Lasseter commented, "You can tell which of them is the producer"), prompting some laughter.

Finally, the lights went down, and we saw what Miyazaki-san was talking about. Surrounded by soft outdoor noises (crickets, breeze, etc.), we saw the ceiling slowly light up until it resembled a night sky with stars. The effect was extremely good, much better than you normally see. A quick "Ooh" from people made everyone else look up again, and after a while, you could see another shooting star! If we could have this ceiling at No-Name meetings, no one would watch the shows!

Enough about the movie. On with the photos from the event...

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