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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
Nov 15, 2013
Miyazaki isn’t a stranger to making movies about childhood and things similar of its nature; Totoro would be an obvious example to this fact. He certainly has an eye of making these kinds of stories that could be reflected to everyday childhood experiences that we have since grown out of and are now living in a realist way of life. The fantasy elements that are a constant staple to the Miyazaki lore is what has made most of his movies so special to a lot of people, including myself, because of their originality and inventive folklore. Now, that isn’t to say that I’m the biggest Miyazaki fan as much as the next person. However if there is one film that could never lose its imaginative and beautiful vision in his filmography with each passing viewing, Spirited Away would win at no contest.
In describing what kind of story Spirited Away follows, coming-of-age would be the most logical way of putting it. In that, we follow with our main protagonist Chihiro and how she handles certain situations that would prove to be difficult for any other young person such as herself. When she first encounters this Spirit World she is lost, hopeless, and confused. Not knowing what is going to happen to her or her parents, after they’ve been turned to pigs, she finally finds help with other characters that are willing to help her be acquainted with this world that is unlike her own. Once she is acquainted with the Spirit world, we now see her as a strong individual once she is more aware of her surroundings and is able to take care of herself without the help of Haku. It is by the end of the film the most essential point to what makes not only Chihiro a wonderful character but also how Spirited Away paces its story structure.
Art and animation are nothing but superb in Studio Ghibli’s legacy in how they incorporate more emphasis on impressionist inspired backgrounds with traditional hand-drawn animation. The scope of Miyazaki’s artistic vision is vast and organic in each of his films that some other Ghibli films sometimes lack in minimal detail. Spirited Away may not have the biggest scope in terms of scale such as his previous films such as Nausicaä or even Princess Mononoke, but I would argue the minimal scope works magnificently with the show’s structure. From the wonderfully drawn buildings to the tiniest detail of rust and wood splinters to the hypnotic waters that surround the spirit world, it complements extremely well with Miyazaki’s ascetic vision and Ghibli’s artistic talents.
With regards to Art, the one aspect of it that Spirited Away shines the most is its creative art designs of the characters of each spirit you come across. Every single one of them looks absolutely original and not thought of from previous animation, despite most of them obviously inspired by Japanese folklore. It’s not as if most of them are forgettable the minute after you see them. They all stick with you as you go along with the film and even years after you’ll finish it from how memorable and imaginative all of them are from the amazing art designs.
To describe how the character Chihiro is treated, as in how she is portrayed in the film in her own personality, would come to the conclusion that Miyazaki approached her in a realistic fashion. You’ve often seen kids before that behave like Chihiro, or you may have been like her in her age, and that behavior would be considered “bratty” or “immature.” But these shouldn’t be seen as negatives since realistically that’s what kids are at her age, as you see Chihiro before she goes to the spirit world. We see Chihiro go through hardship when she arrives through the spirit world and then we have this sense of hoping for her to succeed due to bravery and strong courage to help her parents. It gives her a sense of humanity that could make you feel so much empathy for her as not only just some drawing in motion, but as a human being in the flesh in some ways.
Other characters such as Kamajii, Lin, Kaonishi, and Yubaba fill in the cast quite nicely. Kamajii and Lin filling in as nice slight comic relief character give Spirited Away a nice needed level of charm from the voice acting and dialogue. Yubaba at first does seem like the villain of the movie but from how you see around it, there really isn’t a villain in this movie. She’s nothing more than just a woman who just wants to run her bathhouse in a very authoritative way that has no ambition to do anything evil in nature. Kaonishi, the spirit that follows Chihiro in the bathhouse, gives the film a vulnerable side to it from his troubles of being alone, all through no dialogue at all, at least from his own voice so to speak.
Now we come to music. Composed by Joe Hisaishi, who has been Miyazaki’s main collaborated in almost all of his films as composer, it is pure excellence in Hisaishi’s backlog. This shouldn’t really be surprising considering how so well he composes his scores. From listening to his songs on how they interact not only with what is going on currently in the film but also how it leads the story from each scene to another just from how Hisaishi makes the songs so vibrant and adds a whole new way of looking at the films he scores. I guarantee that there is not one person in the world with a clear conscience to listen to “One Summer’s Day” and not burst into tears.
It is with utmost sincerity that Spirited Away is Hayao Miyazaki’s magnum opus. Though many will claim this to be his most “accessible” film in his filmography, especially the Miyazaki “purists”, it is, for me, the film with the most heart out of the rest. It’s the type of film that almost hurts to love, in that you feel so vulnerable watching this yet you feel a sense of awe because of how your absolutely mesmerized by how much sublime creativity was put into making Spirited Away. From all of its likeable characters, its brilliant pacing, its memorable score, and great coming of age story, from what little minimal flaws there are to be found in the film, it is all worth while to take in what is grandeur and admire it wholeheartedly. Just as with its atmosphere, nostalgia plays a part in how special Spirited Away is. Not nostalgia in the sense of how you were a kid when you first see it, but from how it invokes nostalgia from the film’s ambiance itself of showcasing childhood curiosity and adventure. Something of which more kids films really need to learn from in future generations.
Apr 10, 2014
The animation and the imagination involved in this movie are top tier, and I don't think there's much of a way to argue against it. That being said, I feel like the Studio Ghibli gets enough praises for its visuals. What can I say? They're eye candy. Enough said.
What really got me to enjoy this movie were the characters. Miyazaki (the director in case you don't know yet) is known for criticizing the anime industry for its lack in showing realistic emotion. While I don't necessarily agree with everything he has to say about modern anime, he makes a good point with this one. Chihiro is a believable child. She acts like a child and talks like a child. This is something that is surprisingly hard to find with things that feature a child protagonist. They certainly aren't adults, but they don't act like stupid adults either.
Another thing that makes Spirited Away enjoyable is that the film does not take itself too seriously. It doesn't force out a moral or shove it in your face until you see it. It certainly does not try to have unnecessary romance scenes (Although romance is listed as one of the genre for some reason). It is simply a wild ride without much deep meaning and the film itself seems to be well aware of it. It certainly does not try to squeeze out tears out of your eyes. That being said, Spirited Away still manages to have tons of emotional scenes that really make you care about the characters. I honestly can't say much without spoiling regarding that, so that's that.
While I love the movie, I think it would be unfair for me to not list some things that I gave some second thoughts. I pretty much shrugged all of them off as I usually do when I think a movie is good enough to prevent me from extreme nit-picking. Here goes anyway: One, Chihiro becomes bold a bit too fast. It can't be helped that the development must be done in a short time. She goes from a frighten little girl to a strong chick who can face a multi-legged-man-eating monster eye to eye. Two, Chihiro's kind nature sometimes override some elements of a child. it was surprising to see Chihiro's calm reaction to splatters of blood and showing absolutely no sign of greed. Three, the movie completely ignores other pigs that were formally human. I mean... they must have had families too but oh well. Uh oh, I've said too much.
Something I would like to give some attention to is the English dub. I know dubs aren't quite welcomed, and I completely understand why. The Japanese dubbing is the way the director probably intended his audience to hear. But, you'd be surprise to find out that the english voices for spirited away were actually pretty amazing. Maybe it's because I re-watched the movie in dub today, but to me, the Japanese Chihiro does not sound much like a little girl. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that the over-the-top voice acting that is usually found in anime dubs was absent! The anime-dubbing industry often times use voice actors that only work for anime, and end up sounding a bit less like a film and more like "anime" in the most American way. Spirited Away's voice crew has a Disney feel to it which ended up sounding extremely natural. The orchestral tracks really helped with that. You can tell these guys are professionals. And they even hired an actual little girl for chihiro! Bonus points. I thought the head woman, the old man with spider arms, and Chihiro's big sister figure were seriously awesome. My favorite line from her is probably.. "What a dope" Well anyway, the dubs were done professionally. I can usually kinda guess how better the Japanese dub would be after listening to the English first, but Spirited Away was definitely different.
There you have it. It's quite a jumble... but this one is fresh from the day I re-watched it. I'm not exactly a fan all studio ghibli films. Somewhere along the line, I started to think Spirited Away was a mediocre movie with my hazy memory. But revisiting it made me pleasantly surprised. I know this movie often gets praised as the best this and best that and we may not agree to all of them. But to me, Spirited Away deserves the popularity it gets. It doesn't come off as pretentious or sophisticated and there's no doubt that a lot of effort were poured into the visual aspect (animation and designs). It also surprisingly has a lot of emotional scenes that, although not outstanding, felt very genuine. It's a mixture of a lot of things, but in the end it's simply fun. I'd say this is the Japanese version of what Brad Bird sees in a family movie. 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
Feb 25, 2014
Overflowing fantasy done right. I believe those four words would examine Spirited Away the best. Starting off with the main point, I must heavily compliment the imagination used in the movie, as well as connecting just-that with some elements from the real world. By doing so, we are shown something totally new through the story, but we aren’t completely lost while doing so. We can follow the entire thing easily, and experience it in a unique way.
If perhaps you did not know, Studio Ghibli is known for the creations of whatever comes to their minds, and that is good, really good, since their minds are awesome. You won’t see anything mainstream if you give their works a try. In fact, you’ll get quite the opposite. I’m pointing this out since many like to connect the genres they see with some mainstream fan-service series that are rubbing the same things over and over again. I would like to call that a taste killer. One thing that has to known by any anime watcher out there is that some quality series should be the object to judge other things from, not some random mass-product money-draining releases.
If we go back to Spirited Away, it is a movie. A stand-alone movie, with no sequels or prequels. Such types usually express the creators’ thoughts to the maximum, since there is quite a limited time in which they have to present what’s on their minds, and if there is a lot of it, you can expect something massive, for the better or worse. This movie goes for the better. What many creators and producers forget is the pacing in such 1-2 hour presentations. Spirited Away does that amazingly well. Starting slow, suddenly experiencing a whole fantasy drop, flying up and down through the new world in order to achieve a goal, meeting many new characters and experiencing many new things, as well as performing that finish, it rounds the entire ride up greatly. Yes, we could call Spirited Away a ride, since it is an experience that you simply love to follow from one act/scene to another. Intensive as it is from time to time, you get to adore it and its supreme, as well as a tad silly fantasy.
Complexity done right equals quality. Spirited Away has it.
I’ve mentioned childhood in the beginning of my review. Indeed, you might see the movie as a completely different experience if you watch it as a kid, a teen, or later as an adult. Regardless, the quality stays in any case. I can safely say so, since I’ve seen it around 10 times, the first time being around 10 years ago, and the last time being fairly recently. It is far from being the final time seeing it, though, I’m sure times will come when I’ll want to be taken through the ride again, like a little kid wanting to go on the roller coaster over and over again. If you’re discouraged to watch it because the main character is a 10 year old girl, then I must tell you to drop that idea right away. You get to sympathize with her, regardless if you are in the same age and gender group or not. Furthermore, being all honest, it’s not her that makes the show, but the story and the presentation. It is one of those rare cases in which the characters only spice the entire thing up, but the story delivers the main blows. That itself is one more factor of a quality-made product.
For a 2001 movie, I must compliment the animation as well. Although nothing mind-blowing, it does a more than splendid job at presenting us these fantasy wonders. The sound isn’t half bad, either. The voice actors as well as some OSTs fit with the mood perfectly, contributing that much more towards the overall whole. We get to sympathize with the characters fairly easily, and want them to experience only the very best ending. The negative points of some side characters are shown nicely, such as greed, hold of a grudge, and so on. On the other side, the main leads are well-gifted with some positive treats, such as guts, dedication, being ready to assist at any moment, and so on. Basically, by having the purely good vs purely bad style, it is that much easier for us to decide on whose side will our rooting go to.
Spirited Away has been and continues to be a beautiful experience. No matter how many times I rewatch the movie, my score for enjoyment hits the maximum possible. Rounded up point: This movie is simply a must-watch, regardless of your age and gender. Even if you are not a fan of fantasy in general, you might just change your opinion after you see this movie. However, if you are always up for some wide open fantasy-like experience, then I can assure you that you will simply love Spirited Away. 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
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
Jul 5, 2014
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
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;
Jun 21, 2008
Apr 4, 2014
If there's one thing I enjoy about the movie is the character, Chihiro. In the beginning, she portrayed well as typical ten-year old girls. She's irresponsible and slightly rude at times, though she isn't a complete brat. Her character development was handled perfectly and is the strongest point of the movie. She suffered through many hardships as she learned to face the realities ahead of her. One thing that completely came out of nowhere is guessing that the dragon was Haku. This is one flaw that I noticed immediately in this movie when I watched it.
Unfortunately, this movie isn't perfect. What!? A movie like this have flaws!? Yes. The character Haku is, unfortunately, a weak character. He came to know Chihiro from the past, which was revealed in the end of the movie, but nothing else was developed from it. It was suggested that there is some sort of romantic relationship between him and Chihiro, but the movie just implicated the idea just for no reason. Obviously, it isn't a romance, thank goodness, because if it was, it would indeed bring issues. It's sad that we don't get more interaction between Haku and Chihiro because there bond would have been strong if it did. Remember the last scene where Haku released Chihiro's hand in the end. That scene would have had more impact if there were more interaction.
The music was handled really well as it did fit with the scenes and it was music that was pleasing to the ears.
The art is astounding as it did handle detail a lot. If this movie was recreated again, we could all agree that this would be our next scenery porn.
Overall this movie was good, despite me not enjoying at some parts (though I never apply enjoyment into a rating because it would make it biased.). This movie gets my approval.
This deserves a (7/10) "Good" 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!
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
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
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
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