English: Spirited Away
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 20, 2001
Duration: 2 hr. 5 min.
Rating: PG - ChildrenL represents licensing company
Score: 8.881 (scored by 131015 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular Tagsadventure drama fantasy ghibli supernatural
Jan 11, 2011
I am going to talk about Spirited Away (yeah, obvious). It's been quite a long time since I watched it for the last time, more than a year in fact; but I became a really fascinating and influential piece for me at that time, far enough to define my current love for Miyazaki's works, the Studio Ghibli and animation in general as an art and a strong way of expression. Today it's still one of my favorite animated features of any sort, and not because of its lack of flaws than its amazing blend of concepts.
The first thing that appeals the audience in this movie is its art and animation. I, as unexperienced and poor in technical knowledge about the subject, think it's utter fascinating, it manages to create a whole world out of nothing, and the use of lights and shades, the forms and colours make the overall experience a visual joy. And in addition to that I find the characters' gestures and movements extremely plastic and realistic, some other scenes have been mentioned in that aspect by other reviewers but I was particularly fond of that one where Chihiro is walking with her parents and she gradually moves away, only to come back to her position with a little run-up. These things don't happen, usually, in animation. In so far as they are unnecessary, easily ignorable and feel like a waste of resources, we hardly see characters making these little movements which in the end result in nothing relevant. Ghibli, however, animates them, and does it with such a mastery, a love for detail and a goddamn naturalism that I can't help but feel amazed.
As if the visual aspect wasn't good enough, the movie is also a pleasure for our ears and has what I consider the best track of my heavily worshipped Joe Hisaishi, one of the best (if not the best) film composers I have ever heard. Spirited Away is exceptionally good at that aspect; I'd say it's one of the very few cases in which there is, at some scenes, such a strong fusion between story and music, that I can't conceive nor think of one without the other.
But despite all of these beautiful qualities about its setting, the real substance of this movie is at its story. I apologize in advance, again, because as I'm going to develop some points I will give some free spoilers. If you haven't seen the movie I'd recommend to stop reading at this point.
It has been said many times by critics that Spirited Away felt like a senseless blend of magic elements, just a simple story filled with many things the author introduced undiscriminatingly to drag out the experience. Well, I have a quite different point of view for that device. I just can't conceive that the animation, for example, is taken to such a high level of detail and, on the other hand, that doesn't happen with the story. And by rewatching it repeatedly in a short amount of time (once every two months, more or less), I began to develop some theories about the nature of the world that is depicted here.
What must be considered at first is that all this magical world, with strange creatures and spells, is just an allegory for the always difficult transiton between childhood and the first steps of adulthood. It's the age you start dealing with responsibility, when you realize your acts have consequences and you have to make decisions that will affect your future; you define yourself and the course of your life. Miyazaki puts these simple concepts by transforming the need of finding an identity into a way to escape the wonderful yet cruel world where Chihiro is suddenly trapped. Its hostility imitates quite well the drama of the process, as it reinforces the need of an additional effort every one of us have to make at some point and reset our lives and our positions.
Does this mean that Yubaba's world is an undeveloped blend of magic, hostile things that only serve as a situation that Chihiro has to overcome at some point? Well, I don't think so, as it seems to have a clear structure and hierarchy. One of the stories I see compared more often with this one is Alice in Wonderland. However, I would define that as a blend of unrelated events, a story whose main charm lies in its anarchic, nearly nightmarish, narrative. Spirited Away is not like that in any way. In fact I think there is an effort to transmit a strong sense of logic throughout, it tries to delimit the causes and consequences of every single case.
The key character to understand how Yubaba's tyranny works is, in my opinion, Lin. She just happens to be the link between Chihiro and the rest of the magical creatures, just like somebody that is in some sort of intermediate level. Her physical appearance looks slightly transformed, but not as much as the rest. She is aware of the existence of another world outside of that one, the importance of remembering her name, her "identity"; and knowing that, she helps Chihiro and takes the role of a mother. I have the theory that every one of the creatures that live in Yubaba's world were once human, maybe little boys and girls like Chihiro who couldn't find the way to escape, or other people; and they ended up forgetting who they were, losing their "humanity" and becoming mere pieces of this world. Lin is a special case because it seems she's not lost her identity yet, at least not at all, but forgot at one point her name, the key to come back home, and knows her situation is irreversible. She maybe observed this in some of her companions when she arrived, and Chihiro reminds herself of that. Maybe because of that, because she knows and appreciates what she's doomed to lose, she decides to help her in an altruistic way.
And what about Kamaji? Another key character in Chihiro's development in there; he seems to be quite aware of his situation too. I'd say he is a bit like the "sacrificed" individual, who Yubaba used to start his project and maybe the only one that didn't lose his identity at all. He's a slave in this world, he knows it but can't help it.
So yes, I have a more "adult" and crude view of the overall concept. This definition of the magical public baths as a place were people are doomed to end up losing what makes them "special" is quite harsh and melancholic for a -as targeted and admitted by Miyazaki- kid's movie, and it might feel even weird, but that's how I interpreted it and I think it makes some sense.
Does this mean Yubaba is a villain? Well, define villain. Somebody whose only objective in life is to harm people? That's hardly what Yubaba is. She, for better or for worse, created a world, and made it work. She imposed some rules. We could even say she created her own utopia (and that doesn't mean she is naturally "bad"), why not? And, most important, she has a strong sense of honor, she dictates and also OBEYS her rules. One of the (maybe) main reasons why she loses her battle against Chihiro, in fact, is that her weakness is shown eventually (giant baby); and reveals a hypocritical attitude, as she is protecting her lovely child from any influence while she's always preaching the exact contrary. As she knows it, it's a shameful thing to admit and maybe here is where her image of forcefulness starts to teeter.
All in all, these examples just show that the real strength of this story lies in the characters, as they are always depicted in a detailed way. Yubaba not being the typical villain, or not even being a "villain" at all; Haku, the hero and the "positive" one here has also an overambitious side and is for the most part guilty of his situation... and Chihiro, of course. She is a spoiled brat who learns to appreciate some things, but in no way overreacting at these points, as she sounds real and relatable at every damn scene. It's quite easy to understand her, she's not made to be likeable but her portrayal is solid enough to make us join her development through the story.
I could spend hours and hours talking about this precious anime and its many details, the enigmatic role of No Face, the negative influence of the parents in Chihiro's behaviour, and so much more... I love it. It breathes mastery at (almost) every one of its points, and I can enjoy it in many levels. My only grip would be the way things are resolved, which I have always found too rushed; reading Miyazaki's opinion on that ending I've come to understand the intention behind, but still I'd say the metaphor is made too subtle for the audience, and maybe the execution is also somewhat clumsy. But aside from this minor flaw, I can't help but admire this fascinating, eye-captivating piece of art, my second favorite anime behind Grave Of The Fireflies. read more
Dec 11, 2008
Still, I watched it again and, for some reason, I got it the second time around. Spirited Away isn't meant to be anything grand, with all the bells and whistles. It has a quiet, subdued way of telling a simple story about a simple girl in a very strange world. Instead of expecting something huge, just sit back, watch, and appreciate the world and story Miyazaki has finely crafted for us all to enjoy.
To get to the technical aspects...
The art is, of course, amazing. The colours are rich and the animation is fluid. When Chihiro and her family first walk into the spirit world, you can practically feel the breeze as you watch it whisk through the grass. The lights of the spirit world at night are breathtaking. And watching the train ride closer to the end of the movie, coupled with the amazing music score (the track is called "The Sixth Station"), remains one of my most favourite animation sequences out of anything I've seen. Which brings me to another point: the music.
I will get this out of the way first - Joe Hisaishi is one of my favourite composers. His music style is very simple, but he makes every note count. Most of his music is quite subdued in nature and takes a careful ear to notice when your eyes are being captivated by what's going on in the screen, but do take notice if you have the chance. Or search on YouTube for videos of his live performances. His music is a joy to listen to. Like with Spirited Away, Hisaishi's music lacks all the "bells and whistles" per se, but it's beauty lies in its simplicity. Hisaishi has not failed here in Spirited Away.
I dearly loved the characters. One of the best parts of this movie, for me, was that it lacked any clear good or evil characters. Everyone has a bit of both, though perhaps some allow the evil sides of them to come out a bit more obviously than others. In this way, it's very realistic. Granted, the characters were all quite predictable and Chihiro grated on my nerves at times, but overall, I enjoyed each and every one of the characters Miyazaki has create here.
Overall, Spirited Away is one of my favourite movies and will always be a treasured item in my small DVD collection. It requires some patience to get through since it's not packed with action or drama, but it's a nice fairy tale to watch and enjoy. read more
Jan 23, 2008
Visually, I believe this is Hayao Miyazaki's best film. Everything is a joy to look at. The soundtrack of Spirited Away is one of my favorite anime soundtracks. This is one of the many strengths of the film. I feel that this is the best of Joe Hisaishi's works as well.
When the soundtrack and visuals come together, it makes all the little things in the film so much more special. The scene where Chihiro is on the train with No Face is one of my favorite scenes in the film. Something this simple can be so great only because of the connection between audio and animation.
Some people have said the story was confusing. For me, it was not all that hard to follow. Maybe that comes from having seen it so many times.
Spirited Away is a strange and unique anime that absolutely blew me away. The kind of film you can watch over and over again. It sparked my interest in anime and the works of Hayao Miyazaki. I cannot praise this film enough. read more
May 14, 2012
At it's heart, Spirited Away is a familiar story. Again, our young heroine learns to find her inner strength and comes of age after “falling down the rabbit hole” and finds herself on a liminal journey through the realm of the spirits. Again it proves Miyazaki’s talent as a director, storyteller, and visionary-- elevating a traditional narrative by just executing it perfectly.
The lead character, Chihiro, excels as a heroine because her characterization is spot on. Miyazaki wanted to make a protagonist who would be able to speak to ten year old girls-- a demographic which is usually not represented in the medium, since ten year old girls are no longer adorable little children, but have yet to enter what we properly think of as adolescence. It’s really nice to see a strong protagonist young girls can look up to.
In addition to the coming of age story, Miyazaki also subtly folds in the difficulty of being able to consolidate traditional Japanese spirituality with modernity and the environmental theme pokes its head up again. And rather down the rabbit hole, Chihiro finds herself in a bathhouse for the spirits, allowing for really creative and fantastic visuals (and music; Joe Hisashi here is really at his best).
It also needs to be lauded for putting Ghibli on the map in the United States. While Totoro, Kiki, and Princess Mononoke had their fans, it was Spirited Away that first received a theatrical release that a fair amount of people saw (albeit after it won the Academy Award). It caught the attention of not only anime fans, but a general audience was suddenly turned onto Miyazaki’s work. It was followed by movies like Howl, but more notably Ponyo and Arrietty which are more obvious examples of Disney’s marketing and releasing Ghibli films stateside; this film set the precedent though.
This film is the perfect combination of mythical and reality; just the right amount of romance, action, tension, and those scenes where the movie quiets down and just allows us to take in the mood. It's truly a perfect movie, and one that everybody (anime fan or not) can enjoy. read more
May 3, 2013
All I can say about this is that It is as creative as It can get. Spirited away is full-packed with adventure, Fantasy, comedy and Thrill that’ll Keep you on your toes. Even though the Romance May seem scarce, It’s just the right amount to balance everything in the storyline.
Once thing that I’ve noticed Is that even though the artwork Is a Bit old-looking, It doesn’t seem to affect the movie at all. In fact, It gives your eyes a fresh, New Thing to look over, and the sounds are just superb.
Now, another thing I observed is that the fans are craving for more of spirited away. Imagine Haku being able to cross worlds and eventually, he finds chihiro. Wouldn’t that be nice? But see, It’ll not be spirited away anymore. The bathhouse full of gods, The train on the sea and everything will be amiss. Now if it’s the other way around, I don’t think it’ll be spirited away either. So they see eachother at last. Then what? Marriage? Have kids? Where is the adventure and fantasy that spirited away is all about? There isn’t any other plot to fill or top off the the original one. It will, in the end, disappoint you.
One thing that spirited away lacks though, Is the flashback of the time when chihiro drowned in the river. I would have liked to see that, But anyway, Everything is just amazing, It’s beautiful the way it is. And besides, That’s what fanfictions are for.
Liked about Spirited away: Every last detail
Dsliked about " " " : None. read more
Sep 5, 2009
The mopey Chihiro is throwing a small tantrum in her parents` car as they`re on their way to their new home. Understandably for a young child, she hates the idea of leaving her friends and adjusting to a new environment. Little does she know just how different her next environment would be when an ill-conceived shortcut leads the family to a mysterious bath house for the spirits. Her parents transform into pigs, and it`s up to Chihiro to make do on her own while she finds a way to undo the spell.
Story & Characters
Spirited Away is a window into Miyazaki`s imagination. Chihiro`s journey takes us at first to the Japanese-lore inspired bathhouse, ruled by (oddly enough) a western looking witch, and eventually to a place reminiscent of a European country side, with walking lamps, bouncing heads, and plenty of other wacky creatures in between. This is far from a trippy, scene-to-scene spectacle though. The story is grounded by and centered around the unlikely perseverance of Chihiro, who seems at first overly dependent, panicky and clumsy.
Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, the fantasy world that appears as if it could not be further from reality actually has numerous parallels to our own lives. There is room to pick each bit of symbolism apart, but the beauty of this film is that such a cerebral understanding isn`t necessary to really get this film. The transition between the awe that the magical world inspires at first to the familiarity we feel for it towards the end is so seamless that it is only after the film is finished that the metaphors for humans and human society become apparent.
At the end of the day, Spirited Away will very much be a recognizably Miyazaki film with a little environmentalism, and plenty of the sweet innocence of youth. It starts off though, on a bit of a heartbreaking note. Chihiro goes through bouts of despair for losing her parents and as painful as it is to see her sink, it is equally inspiring to see her pick herself up again and continue clumsily at whatever task was occupying her. Unlike most of Miyazaki`s female leads who tend to be beautiful, pretty, or cute (depending on the age group), Chihiro`s chubby cheeks and messy hair make her unmistakably plain. Neither is her personality bouncy as is the case with the vast majority of girls in animation. Other than her listlessness, there isn`t much to describe about her. It is her unremarkable nature that makes her so adorable as the film develops the earnestness in her character that is deeper, and more essential than her personality. Where the earnestness makes her admirable, the plainness makes her genuine, and lovable. We might laugh at her expressions when she touches something vile, or an instance of complete physical ineptitude, but in an affectionate way, not unlike how you might laugh at your niece for tripping over herself.
Most critics acclaim Miyazaki for the whimsy in his animation, but equally remarkable is the detail that conveys humanity. Chihiro physically expresses herself in more ways than most animated characters. To start, her repertoire of facial expressions is more compete than most, but more importantly, it`s the conscious effort made to put both personality and realism in her movements. One example is when Chihiro must walk down a steep staircase along the side of a tall building. Instead of conveying her terror with a facial expression and ginger steps down the stairs, she gets on her butt and essentially crawls down the steps feet first, treating each rung like a near death experience. It takes some creativity to think up such an extreme, yet human manifestation of fear. The animation shows a layer of humanity that dialogue can`t approach. Regarding the backgrounds and overall visual theme, it is gorgeous and also quite expansive. There are images of luscious greenery, bright and extravagant decor in the bath house, and the serene, pastel-y colors of the countryside.
Piano and string centric pieces go nicely with the downbeat scenes in the film. The antics are accompanied by bright, stop-and-go pieces and the more dramatic scenes get the full orchestral treatment. It works well, but is largely unremarkable. The voice acting is wonderful on both tracks. The English voice actors capture the same essence in the characters as their Japanese counterparts with the exception of Chihiro. Chihiro`s Japanese performance makes her sound older than her age, but fittingly in the dumps, while her English voice is brighter, faster, but more believably childish.
Spirited Away spans moods, settings and emotions in a way that no other Ghibli film does. More so than even Princess Mononoke, this film is epic. This time, it manages to balance the typical innocence associated with the studio to create something that is intelligent, but also tugs at the heart strings in the most primal way. read more
Jun 11, 2008
STORY - I rather liked the basic premise for this movie; it's very simple and reminiscent of a lot of traditional Asian children's stories, not to mention My Neighbor Totoro, with the whole moving away thing. In addition to Chihiro's task of saving her parents, the story very quickly expands to include an assortment of other strange characters, all with their issues and goals, and there are times when we are completely wrapped up in these secondary characters' problems. This makes it almost seem like Spirited Away should have been a short anime series rather than a full-length film. The randomness of some of the side stories really disconnected from the main plot, and I felt like it was a bit too unfocused at times.
Still, all of the subplots were entertaining, and if you look at the movie as a story of friendship and growth as well, then I suppose they could all be considered relevant. It also adds an element of realism to the film, since it's sometimes difficult to concentrate solely on one matter when there's so much else going on. The scatteredness of everything is also rather typical of Miyazaki's style, so most fans are probably used to it anyway. In the end, it's really just a matter of personal preference in the way of storytelling.
CHARACTER - I'm not sure how much I actually sympathized with Chihiro. By now, if you've been reading any of my other reviews, you would know that I'm not a big fan of characters with spotless morals, and Chihiro is one of them. She always knows what the right thing to do is, is never greedy, and never does errs on the side of "darkness," even for a little bit. This is especially evident in the No-Face incident. Being primarily a children's movie, I can understand the need for a role model, but I also think it would be easier to relate to Chihiro if she made some mistakes.
The rest of the cast is a bit better with having varied principles. The ambiguity of Haku's alliance was an interesting element that I enjoyed, though once again, it did irk me that Chihiro seemed unwaivering in her good judgment. Zeniiba and Yu-Baaba were rather generic as characters, but as a huge Alice in Wonderland fan, I did appreciate the references to the Duchess and her gigantic baby. The collection of creatures that came to follow Chihiro around were a little gimmicky, but they weren't very important and were fun to watch, so I guess there really isn't a point in critiquing that too much.
ARTSTYLE & ARTWORK - I don't think I've ever been a big fan of how people are drawn in Miyazaki's style, but it's bothered me the most in Spirited Away. Chihiro looks like a monkey to me. I can't un-see it! That's just me though, I know. The rest of the art is, as usual, gorgeous. All of the bath house guests, the creatures that appeared now and again, all of the details in the wrinkles and warts of the old women -- they were all great. And not to mention the detail in the environment! Every door and wall and floor and machine looked amazing, and if you paused the movie on a background, you could spend ten minutes just looking for and staring at all the little details that were included. It aways blows me away the kind of time and effort they spend on things that the audience only sees for about five seconds at a time. Just beautiful.
MUSIC - I wouldn't consider Spirited Away one of Joe Hisaishi's best scores, especially not compared to something like Princess Mononoke. Still, the tracks were always very fitting and appropriate, fun when need be, suspenseful when need be, as should be expected of any soundtrack.
VOICE ACTING - I've seen both the sub and dub. Stick with the former. Chihiro's English voice just irritated the hell out of me, and while admittedly, her Japanese original isn't all that much better, it's somehow easier to bear. Haku's English voice also could have been much better, and I really wasn't impressed with how most of his lines were delivered. Zeniiba and Yu-Baaba had pretty nice English voices, but I think it's a lot easier to cast for older characters since there isn't as much variation to their voices. The Japanese performance isn't outrageously amazing by any means, but it's at least better than the dub.
OVERALL - I liked Spirited Away. Though the pacing wasn't that great and some parts dragged on for much longer than they should have, as long as you're watching it with friends, it remains an entertaining film with lots of visual grandeur. And maybe if you emptied your head a bit and tried to think like a kid, you'd enjoy it just a little more, rather than being a grouchy, old critic like me. D;
Feb 26, 2008
Spirited Away is about a 10-year-old girl named Chihiro who with her parents, enters an ominous looking tunnel that leads them to a mysterious town filled with restaurants.
Chihiro's parents are quick sit down and begin eating. Unable to get through to them that they should leave, Chihiro wanders off and comes across what she recognizes as a bathhouse where a young boy suddenly appears and warns her to leave before nightfall.
However, as the sun sets, the town begins to fill up with Spirits, and Chihiro returns to find that her parents have undergone a mysterious transformation.
Now alone Chihiro must fend for herself as she meets strange spirits and creatures, and without her parents she must find a way to save them from being served up for dinner. With help from friends, will Chihiro succeed in her quest to save her parents and leave the mysterious town? Watch the movie and find out.
Spirited Away is one of Hayao Miyazaki's best works. I so enjoyed this movie. Chihiro grows from a self-centered girl to one of courage and willingness to put others before herself. The graphics in the movie are awesome and the characters are simply superb. Spirited Away may seem at first a child's movie but it isn't, it's a family movie and worth watching. read more
Jan 30, 2007
Apr 25, 2010
There are movies that you really have to think about. Movies that you won't understand unless you think about them until your brains come out your ears, and most people, unless totally intrigued, do not wish to think that much. Similarly, there are movies that are so plain in design that they require no thinking whatsoever. They lack in substance and exceed only in the predictable, feel-good story.
However, I have found that the best movies, and screw movies, just stories in general, are most successful when they find a type of balance between these two polar, but perpendicular ideas. And Spirited Away does.
Spirited Away has everything we love about predictable movies: relatable characters, character development, unbelievable setting, adventure, and sincere messages. But it also has the quirkiness that people find interesting and the artsy technicalities that experts of this field rave about.
I can confidently say that when you watch Spirited Away, you are in for a ride. It will be a slightly bizarre experience perhaps, but this balance between the bizarre and the familiarity is exactly what makes Spirited Away a spectacular movie.
Spirited Away chronicles a girl and her transition from child to young adult. Spirited Away is all about finding inner strength and qualities that you never knew you had, and while the protagonist Chihiro finds herself in the strangest and most frightening world you could imagine, I don't feel that this world is very different from the one she came from. Perhaps enhanced, yes, but the challenges themselves are the same no matter what setting, and Miyazaki shows this in his enhanced atmosphere. Chihiro learns to rely on herself and her mind and her heart, blossoming into a passionate young lady, and while that idea is nothing new, you will be surprised as to how new and important these ideas will seem when you watch the film.
From my own experience, I can say that Spirited Away effected me particularly strongly. It was not difficult to relate the attitude of the character to my childlike self, and so it seemed to me that her story was similar to my own (although perhaps subtracting the "spiriting away" aspect). I cannot know, if I watched it for the first time today, that I would feel as attached to it as I did when I was eleven years old and had never watched an anime before. But I have a feeling that Spirited Away would still have found a special place in my heart.
I can restate the obvious about the artistic and auditory acclaim of this movie, but I feel it would be redundant to do so when so many have done it before me. If it were up to me, I would talk about the contents of this movie indefinitely, particularly the complexities of Ogino Chihiro, but I feel that that is inadvisable as well, so I'll stop now.
I hope you give Spirited Away a try and admire the qualities I described above. Happy watching! read more
Dec 23, 2009
The story begins with ten year old Chihiro and her family on their way to their new home and decide to take a short cut. In the beginning, you see little Chihiro as a bratty little girl who is too scared to do anything without her parents. Later in the story you see this character develop beautifully. She becomes a brave, enlightened little girl who looks forward to new adventures.
Stumbling upon an abandoned theme park, her parents decide to help themselves to a meal laid out in a stand and are turned into pigs by the angry spirits! It is then that Chihiro receives a warning from Haku, a young boy, to leave before the lanterns set but is too late in doing so and ends up stumbling into a sea of water. Forced to work in the spirits bathhouse owned by the wicked Yu-baaba, Chihiro overcomes many challenges and meets new friends along the way.
Who could Haku be? What does he have to do with her past? How is Chihiro going to save her parents and go home? Will she ever go home?
A very unique, compelling story!
The art is breathtaking and absolutely incredible! It gives you a real feel for the characters and setting.
The voices are crisp and fit the characters right down to a tee.
Character development and unique personas are present, overall. My favorite characters would have to be Haku, Kamajii and Chihiro. Haku seems like your typical guy, trapped to be Yu-baaba's servant and forced to fulfill her dirty deeds all the while seeming arrogant in public, but gentle towards Chihiro. Kamajii, the boiler man, and Chihiro, the young human girl, surprise you as the story progresses. Lin, No Face, Zeniiba and even Yu-baaba become delightful characters.
I give this anime a 10 out of 10. I really enjoyed watching it and actually feeling involved in the characters dilemmas. This is the type of anime that keeps you on the edge of your seat in suspense, but also keeps you craving more in the end. It WILL surprise you. ;]
This could very well be one of Hayao Miyazaki's best works. To all of you Miyazaki fans out there: cheers!
Feb 17, 2009
And it is.
Think you're too "hip" for a story about a 10-year old who gets swept away in a Wonderland-like dimension after her parents get turned into pigs?
As a cynical teenager now, I would too. Was I ever wrong! But it's difficult to explain the world that Chihiro gets trapped in without sounding like a total nutcase - you just have to experience it on screen. Basically, her parents drag her into this abandoned theme park, where they eat the food meant for the spirits and get turned into pigs. Chihiro then ends up working at a massive bath house while trying to figure out how to get her parents (and herself) safely home.
There are quite a number of subplots under this umbrella of the "main plot", but it only serves to illustrate Miyazaki's genius as he is able to effortlessly weave all of these stories today into a seamless story. While the plot may sound like a child could make it up, hidden underneath the surface are Miyazaki's comments on contemporary issues like labour relations and environmental protection in modern Japan.
Nevertheless, it's best if you don't try and analyze "Spirited Away" beforehand - take my advice, and just sit back and WATCH.
As usual, Miyazaki's artwork was beautiful. I love the fluidness of the animation and the subtle traces of realism that Studio Ghibli incorporates into the movie (such as the way Chihiro taps her foot when she's putting on her shoe), as well as the detail that is given to the background (the scene with Yubaba's office is SO DETAILED!! It blows me away). However, don't expect to see any bishounen (Haku exempt). Furthermore, you might be turned off by the character designs in Spirited Away (there is SOMETHING wrong with Chihiro's face - I can never pinpoint it, but I think it has something to do with her overly full face, her smallish eyes, her almost absent nose and huge mouth), but the supporting characters are very well done.
One word: gorgeous, especially the opening number, "One Summer's Day" with its piano solo and soft orchestral accompaniment. The sweeping musical score by Jo Hisaishi deserves a 10 from me because every piece, every note, fits with the visuals like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Characters who are airheaded, whiny, and helpless IRRITATE me like no end. However, I can still (sort of) sympathize with Chihiro even though she is a whiny brat at the beginning of the movie. I mean, if you were 10, your parents had just gotten turned into PIGS, and to top it off, you were stuck in an alternate dimension with no clear way of getting home, certainly you would also be whiny, afraid, and on the verge of tears. However, I greatly enjoyed her character development as the movie progresses, as she grows from a brat who cares about herself the most to a girl who is caring, thoughtful, and one who learns from her experiences.
On the other hand, the other characters are just simply hilarious. Miyazaki's spirit dimension is host to a variety of lovable characters including dozens of cute soot critters, to a six-legged boiler man, and a baby who could overtake even the best sumo wrestler :) It's not every anime that you see a small bird flying around with a mouse about twice its size.
A delightful anime that never ceases to make me smile and giggle for a hour and a half, Spirited Away is a must-see for novices and experienced anime-watchers alike. With beautiful animation coupled with a gorgeous soundtrack, Miyazaki's film has the ability to truly spirit you away. read more
Jun 21, 2008
Apr 9, 2012
Given the fact that there are many "alice-comes-to-wonderland" series to be found now, this one would totally not fail to stand out above the others. It has its own twist and turns that makes the whole thing interesting. The downfall of the movie for me, is the kinda lame progression of the movie. It is a 2 hour movie, and I kinda felt like some of the scenes are dull.
Art (10) and Sound (9)
Matching the great animation of the movie is the well-though out background musics, I enjoyed feeling the movie more with the bgm and sound effects, both categories really gave justice to fantasy side of the series.
Ok the characters made me crazy hahaha, its as if everyone has a bipolar or split personality. It was crazy but I love all of them. The writer totally succeed in making even the antagonists be loved by all the viewers (well at least thats what I felt). And to top that all like all the other fantasy series spirited away had also cute creatures.
Overall I really enjoyed watching the whole movie. There are dull moments but still, it will totally play with your heart jumping from one emotion to another. I felt an incredible storm in my heart. Indeed. this is one of those movie, you would want to watch over again, every time you find yourself bored and left with nothing to do in that monitor of yours XD read more
May 8, 2013
When I heard that this was an Academy award-winning film, I couldn’t expect anything less. A lot of people were also raving about how good it was and it has the potential of becoming a classic animated feature. I got curious as to how a movie about a girl being whisked away to a spirit world was really that great. I didn’t know what the big deal was, so it took me several months before I actually got convinced to watch this. I spent that time to read some reviews and watch the trailer. When I’ve finally gotten the gumption to see the movie for myself, it somehow exceeded my expectations.
The story starts off with a girl on a road trip with her parents. The girl’s name is Chihiro. Upon finding out that they were lost in the middle of nowhere, she and her parents managed to go through a tunnel that unexpectedly lead them towards an uncanny and mysterious place. Unbeknownst to the spirits lurking around the town, her parents ate the food that was set before them without any hesitation. Little did they know that the food turned them into large and meaty pigs. In order to go back to their world, Chihiro must embark on a journey with her newly-found courage and friendships.
Matched by a lighthearted feel and mood, “Spirited Away” actually has a deep message when you watch the scenes carefully. I couldn’t point out everything because it takes me a very long time before I could take in and digest what the movie really has to offer. Behind all the magnificent and impeccable animation is a message deep enough to touch the hearts of different people. I couldn’t find the words express how much this film touched me in many ways. The beautiful combination of the art, animation, characters, and music morphed into such a wonderful animated feature. One thing that kind of ticked me off was the parents of Chihiro, though. They seemed kind of childish to actually eat something right off the bat without being wary of their surroundings. It’s a very small and minor thing, but still, I can’t ignore the details.
To sum up everything in a nutshell, I found myself at loss for words. One thing that I would take home from this film would be the fact that sometimes, we get too caught up with things that don’t really matter. In the end, we fall prey to our own fantasies to the point that we start to get blind from reality – the kind of reality wherein we don’t seem to recognize the people or things that are important to us (as shown in the film several times). All I can say is, “Spirited Away” is one of the best animated features I’ve seen. read more
Apr 27, 2008
I first watched this film 5 years ago during my senior year in high school when a friend of mine was raving about it. Back then I found the film to be boring and feature a paper thin plot. Now 5 years later and a few hundred anime titles later I was compelled to review this. However, since it was 5 years since I viewed the film, I decided to re-watch Spirited Away in preparation for this review as my memory is a bit foggy. After watching it again, I discovered 2 things about Spirited Away. I now know why I forgotten many of the events, thus needed to re-watch it and my perspective about the film really hasn’t changed.
Spirited Away begins with Chihiro’s family moving to their new home. Like any normal 10 years old girl she is quite sadden and angry about leaving her old life (hell anyone would feel this way). Chihiro’s father makes a wrong turn somewhere and decides to take a short cut through the forest. Ok, perfectly normal but what gets me is when they see an abandon building they decided to go in and explore. Next, they go, “oh look food that’s sitting out with no-one around” let eat. The events leading up to Chihiro getting trapped in the fantasy world are way too plot devicy for my taste. However, this isn’t my main complaint about the film, it’s just that the rest is so shallow I can’t really analyze it with much depth. The rest of the story can be summarized by Chihiro get a jobs, does a job, returns something, get freed and goes home. In fact, I’m quite dumfounded as to how they created a 2 hour movie with this plot line.
Although, perhaps I’m being too critical with the story and story structure that Spirited Away takes. What I think Spirited Away tries to do is create a magical world in which the viewer can escape to. It tries to take us on an adventure to somewhere very different. That is does, studio Ghibli creates a worlds that is both imaginative and beautiful. I could go on and on about the world but words wouldn’t do it justice. However, something is very wrong when the only major praise I can give is about the fantasy world that is created. They spend way too much time creating and focusing on this world. When I analyze a few scenes I realize how drawn out Spirited Away makes each scene. They could have easily cut 30-40 minutes and have a more focused story. This is how they were able to stretch such a thin plot out for 2 hours.
When reviewing anime I put the most weight on the plot and characters. I’ve already talked about how thin and weak the plot is in the above paragraphs. Sadly the characters don’t fare too much better. Chihiro does grow over the course of the movie and in the end she is a bit stronger and can now face new challenges (i.e. new school, neighborhood, etc). After going through what she went through, I don’t think a new school will faze her. However, there really isn’t much to Chihiro’s character, she’s simply a random girl that happens to go on an inadvertent adventure and becomes a little bit stronger in the end. She feels a bit like an empty shell for the audience to live through. In general, the characterization for the movie feels a bit weak, I mean do we really know these characters? If that’s all there is to these characters, then I have no choice but to conclude that most of them are extremely flat.
Ok now on to the easy part of this review, the technical aspects. It should be no surprise that the animation and art is top notch. This is studio Ghibli and Spirited Away is also a movie so there should be no excuses when it comes to animation. The environments are beautiful and quite vibrant. Characters designs are extremely consistent but I don’t like the designs that Studio Ghibli uses. Not really a negative, just a personal preference. Music, really works to create and accent the magical world of Spirited Away. However, the music is nothing too note worthy, above average I guess. In contrast, the voice work, this is a meh for me in both the English and Japanese, nothing really outstanding or bad. However, there really wasn’t anything in the movie that would require the VAs to show their talent.
As with any Miyazaki films there are themes of environmentalism along with others in particular, greed. Thankfully, these themes and ideas never become the focus or become too blatant. Also, I have to add another audience that Spirited Away may have been targeted to. That would be nostalgic Japanese adults that long for a more traditional setting away from the modern world. In that respects it does a great job however, I’m neither a child nor a Japanese adult disillusioned with the modern world. So it should be no surprise that I’m not very fond of this film, as none of the positives really appeal to me. Those would be the imaginative/magical or nostalgic world of Spirited Away.
Spirited Away is an imaginative and magical world that child will most likely enjoy. In addition, its nostalgic feel will appeal to some Japanese adults. However, it also features a paper thin plot as well as weak characterization. Spirited Away is a nice watch if you want to get away for 2 hours and turn off your brain but it is ultimately shallow and forgettable. Even now after watching it a few hours ago I’m having a hard time remembering the details. read more
Jun 26, 2012
- The animation is very colorful, it makes you "feel" that you are living in a "real" fantasy world.
- The graphic is not as generic as an every day anime you watched on TV, but it's quite beautiful, and it can capture the graphic detail of the environment, let say "a crack in the stone", "a moss in the stone", etc. all can be watched in a clear detail so that we notice the "crack" and the "stone", the "moss" and the "stone".
- But the character's graphic is rather old fashioned and not like the generic modern anime you watch on TV.
- That's why in Art department, I don't give a perfect 10, but 9 instead.
Story = 10
Character = 9
- The story is wonderful, Hayao Miyazaki succeeds in sewing a simple story with a simple plot, but can draw the audience's emotion to feel exactly like the story goes.
- For example, (A Little Bit Spoiler) ......................... Spirited Away wants to show the warmth of a motherly love from one character to several others in Spirited Away, then they show it through Zeniba's compassion through a gift to the other character, or even invite a character to stay and live with her, or encourage another character to help others through a simple errand.
- Just from one example, we could all understand the message of endearment and makes us want to say "awww, that is so sweet".
- And from start from the end of the story, Spirited Away is filled and full of act that we could make us say different kind of emotions.
- Not just endearment, but also a story of doing the extra effort for the people you love, and the kind hearted Chihiro that will do a helpful deed even to the one that she barely know close.
- It is the "will do anything for love" and do the helpful deed to others that could move our emotions, not only to say "awww, that is so sweet", but also a lot of positive moral value that not only we could learn from it, but also makes us to fall in love with many of the characters, because many of them, both the main and supporting cast have a lot of good natured and kind hearted spirit that we appreciate and love.
- Even the main antagonist (villain) is also lovable, because the main villain the the typical witch you always watch on TV and movies, fussy, cranky, cunning, but a mother at heart.
- Even so, you still fall in love with that witch, because that is what a witch should be, fussy, cranky, cunning, it's annoying but endearing at the same time.
- More on the characters department, I noticed that ALL of the cast, ranging from the main even to the supporting characters, ALL of them have a very significant role, and not just a "just-passing-by" characters that we could just forget them, because we can't. Because ALL of them has significant role to built the entire puzzle of the story.
- Example for my explanation above is the example of the character No Face (A Little Bit Spoiler) ................ No Face is a supporting cast, but without him, Chihiro would never got the bath token to bathe another supporting cast, and therefore could not ever obtain the green ball of medicine to cure another cast in the movie.
- That's why we can not take it for granted any of the characters. ALL of them make the puzzle to be complete.
- And that's just making the story department a stronger value, because the story is built through all of the characters significant role, which is not an easy task for the writer and director to do, but causing it a very valuable movie.
- There are lots of endearment act that we could say "awww, that is so sweet".
- There are lots of another act like with such movement that we could drop our tears.
- There are lot of kind hearted and good natured gesture that many of the characters shows that makes we to fall in love with many of the characters, and learn the "moral of the story".
- That's why on the story department, the score can reach as high as the perfect 10.
- However, for the character department, the character Haku seems to cold, stiff, and flat in emotion, which is why, even though the other main and supporting characters are very loveable, the score drops one notch from the perfect 10 into a "9".
Sound = 10
- The sound is wonderful, it has a lot of soundtracks and themes for many of the scenes and act.
- Which is why in the sound department, it is filled with rich and a lot of soundtracks.
- And what's more, the soundtracks are as moving emotionally as the scene it self, which makes you -again- be drawn to the emotion of the scene and act.
- A perfect 10 for the Sound department.
Enjoyment = 10
- The explanation basically the same in Art and Story.
- But the additional explanation is, the story is so light that you don't have to think seriously for the plot. Just sit down and enjoy the show.
- Is it enjoyable? Of course, It is about an adventure in a fantasy world, but not just a fantasy world, but a colorful fantasy world, the color is bright and cheerful either, makes you feel that you live in a cheerful, bright and "happy" atmosphere world.
- And you will love the characters as explained before, they are all have traits of kind hearted and good natured, and even the villain is likeable, because the villain has done a good job in portraying her self as this fussy, cranky, and cunning evil witch.
- All the characters are making a significant role to built the entire puzzle of the story, which makes you want to watch "what happen next after............".
- You will find a lot of moving emotionally act and scene that could make you "feel" the emotion of the movie just like the writer and director wants you to feel. Kinda like Disney movies, in this "emotionally drawn to the movie" department.
- After all of my explanations above, therefore this movie is not have a lot of enjoyment, but because it has a LOT of enjoyments to offer, this movie has a lot of replaying value. I even watch it over and over again in my DVD.
- So, enjoyment = perfect 10.
So, my conclusion for all of my explanations above, this movie deserve a perfect 10. read more
Mar 21, 2008
The movie did a really great job making me feel like i was really there. The voice acting was outstanding and the luscious backgrounds added a lot of pleasure. Although very little of the dialogues were a awkward (because, obviously the Japanese communicate their feelings in a different way), you can still have a really fun discussion about the values presented in this movie.
I recommend this to anyone, even to the person who hates anime. ; )
Aug 19, 2007
For some unknown reason, I have heard a lot of criticism about this anime, in that people think that it's no different from anything else that Studio Ghibli has released. Any other anime by Studio Ghibli has not won an "Academy Award For Best Animation". Nor has any other Ghibli work been ranked as the best animation title by IMDB.
Naysayers will cite Western narrow mindedness. I say nay. By now, anime has become such a phenomenon in the West. And more than enough smart people in the West know enough about what makes a good anime. And most of them would agree that Spirited Away has the makings of a good anime and that it is one of the best animes they will ever see.
Give respect where respect is due. At least give this anime a try. It's a travesty that a piece of art like this is not getting the amount of fame it deserves. You know who to blame (are you listening Naruto fans?).
A read more
Feb 14, 2008
Aside from that, the animation was smooth, the music was astounding and greatly contributed to the film, and the character development was just phenomenal. I enjoyed this movie very much and I highly recommend it. read more