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My Age Rating: AA: It’s a children’s movie. They show us blood once and that’s it but nothing to get riled up over.
The story, well the story wasn’t much to be honest. It was sort of like Wonderland + Disney which is really a bad mix. A girl gets dragged into a magical world of spirits where she is forced to work to free herself and her parents. Fairly simple and as you watch you realize it borrows from several other works too. They throw a twist and add a conflict of a more serious nature however, with her parents’ lives actually being in real danger and adding some monsters and witches that actually do attack with the intent to kill, which really highlights the differences between Japanese and American movies that are aimed at kids; at least Japan doesn’t pretend their kids are innocent little angels who never swear, never fight and know nothing of violence and sex until they hit 18. Though it did feel like a real cup-out when everyone that had been eaten by the monster in one scene were all saved and fine.
Characters! This is where the movie won me over, I absolutely loved most of the characters and considering that is a Ghibli movie it really is a first. Chihiro was a great main character and I really thought they did a fine job at introducing, developing and portraying her. I would like to say that unlike other Ghibli movies Chihiro felt more believable but that wouldn’t be fair as most Ghibli characters usually feel believable. The main difference I guess are in her personality, this time around they did a character that I liked where as in other movies of this studio, while the characters are often good, I usually don’t like them. The rest of the cast isn’t too impressive but they do the job: you got a witch, her sister, a huge monster, a dragon/ally of Chihiro and her parents.
The dub was fine, I don’t have any complaints nor any praise.
The animation: this is what took a huge bite out of the movie for me. Gonzo is a studio that receives a lot of flak because they introduce CGI just for the heck of it to say “Hey, look at my CGIs!” (Well I don’t think so but most people do), so you’re asking yourself why the heck is Gonzo even of relevance here? Right? Well Ghibli does what Gonzo is accused of but with its animation: They love to say that they have the greatest animation out there so they add a lot of useless scenes filled with incoherent events or environments just for sake of saying “Hey, look at our animation!” And to be frank, I don’t find their animation that great anyway; most characters are deformed freaks, the monsters are hilariously bad, its filled with farm animals just because and you have the pleasure of sitting through all of that just so they can show you how great an animation they have, yeah no thanks. It’s not like the movie needed to be animated like that either, it didn’t have anything to do with the main plot or the atmosphere, everything could have been handled differently and better and still deliver a great movie, and let’s face it, a better one. This is what I call Ghibliing up you movie and it’s not desired.
Overall, the movie is good if only for the main character. The rest is rather meh. At the very least it’s the best I’ve seen out of Ghibli so far so if you’re not into Ghibli I can actually recommend this one this time. If you’re a big fan of theirs then you’ll obviously like this one as well.