Japanese buyers of the DVD version of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away have filed a potentially damaging suit against distributor Walt Disney Japan, claiming that the colour of the film is "totally different" from that of the theatrical release.

The suit, filed by three consumers in Kyoto District Court, asks for $81 (Y10,000) in damages per claimant and a replacement copy. Their principal complaint is that the DVD version is darkened by a red tone that effectively spoils the film. In their suit, they claim to have conducted a computer analysis of the DVD that backs their assertion.

If the suit is successful, it could have wide-ranging repercussions for Disney, whose Buena Vista Home Entertainment division has shipped three million copies of Spirited Away DVD in Japan since its release last July.

Complaints about the DVD's red tone have not only appeared on Miyazaki fan sites, but flooded into Disney headquarters. In response, a statement on the Buena Vista Web site says that "Given that colours differ depending on the replay environment, we ask for your understanding." Meanwhile, the company has refused to compensate consumers who claim they have been sold a defective product.

Buena Vista officials are reportedly considering a response to the suit, in coordination with Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, the maker of Spirited Away, but have not yet decided what form it will take. Meanwhile the complainants' lawyer, Tetsuya Otani, told reporters that "There are hundreds of thousands of consumers who have been disappointed with the DVD of this wonderful film. We hope to clarify the truth of this matter in court."