When I first saw the movie, I didn't see what the big deal was. All right, so a girl gets whisked away to a fantasy world? We've heard that story before. And, unlike many other movies, there's no dramatic love story or epic battles and action scenes to keep you at the edge of your seat. Consequently, I didn't think of it as being very exciting.
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.
This is my first review in MyAnimeList, so I apologize in advance if you find the ideas I'll put forward here badly-written, explained or structured.
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.
In many ways this is a difficult review to write. This is because I’m clearly not the target audience, as Spirited Away is a film that is clearly targeted towards children. In the end, I simply decided to review the film as I normally do and leave a disclaimer about not being the target audience.
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.
This is like watching a dream. Sometimes when you have those moments where you picture something then you say to yourself that was not reality, the image that came to my mind must be from a different world that I saw somewhere, but not that I can recall when or where. This is like opening a door deep down in your mind and behind that door lies all your lucid dreams and imaginations. watch it for sure, you can never go wrong with this.
I enjoyed this very much. You will experience all kind of different feelings watching this; fear, love, warmth..etc
The very facet of childhood can be boiled down to the very definition of mysterious wonder and awe-inspiring imagination. We’ve all had those moments where we would go off into our own little world of childlike imagination and try experience an entirely new reality different from our own. Films have tried to recapture the atmosphere that resembles this nostalgic feeling of experiencing the journey of childhood that either succeeded or failed. It just takes a man like Miyazaki to do just that flawlessly.
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.
As an Oscar-nominated animated feature by a world renowned director and studio, everyone had high expectations for this movie.
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;
By far my favorite Miyazaki film, Spirited Away transported me to a place that I never wanted to leave. The visuals of this film are simply astounding. The colorful landscapes and the ornate buildings really brought the films story to life. The music was also extremely excellent. The characters were the best part of the film. Each one had their own story to tell. Most people might write this film off as a childrens movie, but in my opinion this is a movie that everyone- adults included- can watch and enjoy.
At the time of this writing, Spirited Away is ranked #2 among anime movies on this site. In my opinion, that is sorely inaccurate. Reading the reviews for it, there are a lot of remarks about the excellent animation and soundtrack (rightfully so) and the strong character design (understandably so), but beyond that, the praise begins to falter. People struggle to justify the disjointed nature of the film, sometimes going with "shows remarkable creativity" and sometimes just falling back on "makes me nostalgic." Viewers who liked it don't know why they liked it, and that doesn't surprise me.
In short, Spirited Away
feels like a three hour recreation of someone's dream that was carelessly edited down to two hours for the sake of runtime. For starters, the movie has no true plot. Chihiro (the protagonist) has lost her parents in a spirit world and needs to get them back and escape. With that as a distant theme, the movie proceeds to throw characters and situations at us that are only tangentially connected to each other or that goal.
Are there high points along the way? Absolutely. The animation far surpasses the usual anime standard. The musical composition is excellent. The characters are unique and well-defined. Everything is vivid and bombastic and well-done...except for an actual STORY.
I'm afraid the only way to properly explain my issue is with specific examples from the film, so there are spoilers ahead. You've been warned.
Let's start with Chihiro's helper and guide, so to speak: Haku. You begin to get an impression that he's someone like her - someone who got lost in the spirit world but managed to survive by becoming Yubaba's assistant. He helps Chihiro get on her feet and avoid trouble, and then promptly ceases to be anything more than a plot device. Haku steals a trinket from Yubaba's sister for a reason that's both not fully explained and ultimately irrelevant. Yubaba's sister is angry enough to try to kill him, then just forgives him when the trinket is returned. He promptly loses any interest in taking it again, remembers he's a water spirit (...okay?), and that's the last we hear about him.
How about No-Face? An interesting character, absolutely, but pointless overall. Yes, there's a scene where he helps Chihiro, but after that, he eats a bunch of people, spits them out, and becomes a seamstress. Fun.
Characters don't so much "develop" as they change into completely different people for the sake of the story. People hate Chihiro...until they don't. There's a baby that cries and throws fits because he's worried about the germs outside...then he goes outside willingly and becomes a nice person. The witches are angry one moment and friendly the next.
And then there are all the little inconsistencies and allowances made for the sake of making the story work (or forgotten when it no longer matters). For example, there's a big deal made about the importance of names and how losing your name is losing your identity, but it's only relevant for two characters: Chihiro and Haku. Chihiro forgets her name but then sees it on a card and remembers it again. Haku makes a big deal about how she needs to hang onto that card so she'll always remember...and then it's never touched on again. Haku can't remember his original name, and this is treated as significant, but then Chihiro figures it out for him and exactly nothing comes of it.
Simply put, this is a mess of a movie that nonetheless gets praise because it's presented well. Perhaps I just don't have the context to really understand it (for example, maybe there are lots of details I didn't catch because I'm not familiar with Japanese culture or mysticism), but from my perspective, as someone who appreciates a good, coherent plot, Spirited Away fell utterly flat.
As I'm aging everyday, I felt the need to reminisce about my childhood past, and so recently I decided to re-watch a whole bunch of Disney movies as well as Miyazaki (Studio Ghibili) films. (By the way, did you guys hear that Studio Ghibili is no more? Depressing news for future generations). The movies brought me to tears, and I couldn't help but feel an urge to write a review on how significantly emotional and magnificent Miyazaki's films are. Spirited Away is definitely by far the most popular of all Miyazaki's films considering he won a countless number of awards for the movie and it
made more profit than Titanic in Japan at the time. For parents I'd definitely recommend you watch this movie with your children, and children of all ages, if you haven't seen Spirited Away yet in your life, I'd definitely urge you to watch it before you grow too old to enjoy it's purity, because watching it from a child's point of view will leave a tender childhood memory in your life. Watching it from an adult's point of view will make you appreciate the movie (as well as other Miyazaki films) in a whole new light and bring back touching memories.
The story of Spirited Away doesn't exactly seem all that children-like, because of it's mysterious and somewhat complex plot. It's about a 10-year old girl and her journey into a supernatural world filled with spirits --> witches, ghosts, divine deities, a human-spirit-dragon and more, in order to rescue her parents who have been turned into pigs. Throughout her "Alice in Wonderland" - like adventure, she has to find her identity, remember her name, remain her purity/innocence while all the meanwhile remembering what it means to be a human being/a child. Unlike most anime directors or any filmmakers for that matter, Miyazaki doesn't conceal the nightmares/terrors of childhood, which actually yield their own disquieting beauty. He respects the deep silences of his story, as well as its cacophonies. Very young children are apt to be frightened by this film but still enjoy the film if watching with a parent/older figure, proof being myself. But as children grow older and re-watch Spirited Away, they'll come to appreciate it's stunning beauty in story, art and sound.
What Spirited Away does with it's characters is truly magical. Unlike most anime, Spirited Away successfully portrays it’s characters in a more personal and intimate way. Obviously Anime characters often come off more like set pieces in a story than real, breathing people who control their own lives. But in Spirited Away, for all it’s insanity and typically over the top anime mysticism, the characters are surprisingly quietly intimate. This allows the audience to connect with, sympathize with and actually care to watch for Chichiro. But there are other characters too of some whom are symbolic characters and serve to teach the audience a lesson, of others who are there for kid's enjoyment - comedy, and others who develop into an important piece of the plot; everyone has some kind of important role to look out for. With all these positives said, there wasn't really a character I really loved, but the development of Chichiro really made her a special character.
Honestly, the story is great and the characters were animated/imaginative, not-realistic creations of truly "realistic" beings. But for Miyazaki's films, what can be said more than the animations and in my opinion, the greatest soundtracks in any films ever. Spirited Away's animation was nothing short of masterful; High quality doesn't begin to describe how simply stunning Spirited Away's art is. The setting of Spirited Away has a very traditional Japanese feel to it while mixing in elements of modernity as well. The animations gives the audience a sense of fresh realism in a fantasy world. And the music. Oh my the music. Joe Hisaishi, you are the greatest movie-soundtrack composer ever and without having to say, my personal favorite movie-soundtrack composer. One Summer's Day? Always With You? Sixth Shop? Dragon Boy? Your great music knows no limit. For those of you who have seen Spirited Away know what I'm talking about, and for those of you who don't... Well then go to YouTube and listen to the pieces I just mentioned. The music definitely enhances the emotions felt from each scene, and makes the movie an all the more memorable experience/memory. The voice acting added a sense of realism into characters, especially Chichiro who genuinely sounded like a fightened 10 year old child. The beauty of the sounds in Spirited Away cannot be described in words.
If you want to purely enjoy this movie and/or haven't seen the movie yet, then I recommend you skip these upcoming paragraph and skip just to the very last paragraph. because I will be analyzing the whole load of themes and symbols in Spirited Away, which is truly a childrens movie, while not actually being purely a childrens movie. There are just so many themes in Spirited Away beyong the surface of a magical masterpiece.
1. Chichiro aka Sen was stripped of her name. But what does a name really mean though, it's just a 2-couple of words assigned to you at birth right? You can just change it too right? Well, in Spirited Away, the character's names are their quest for freedom. Sen Chichiro must remember the qualities that make her who she is and remain true to them despite her name, the one word that defines her as herself, has changed. In Spirited Away, names are of fundamental importance in the spirit world, and those in power keep their control by stealing and changing names. Only those characters with the inner strength to hold onto their names and identities can free themselves.
2. What defines a person as good or evil? In Spirited Away, every character morally ambiguous; they're a mix of good and bad qualities and actions.Those who seem good at first, such as Haku and No-Face, have their share of evil qualities, and those who seem bad in the beginning, such as Zeniba, and Lin, show signs of good in Chihiro’s escape to freedom. Chihiro herself is pretty unpleasant at first until later when she reveals her better nature only after she becomes Sen. Spirited Away’s blurred line between good and evil is a much more accurate reflection of the real world outside the film. In the end, evil is not vanquished but pushed aside as characters make choices that weaken bad influences. Sen’s acts of goodness bring out the latent good in those she encounters; just like real life right?
3. Growing Up, and entering the world of adulthood. What does it mean to be a child? What separates a child from a teen from an adult? The shock of entering the working world is a theme rarely dealt with at this age level, which gives Spirited Away a mark of distinction. At the beginning of the movie, Chichiro is just sitting in the backseat doing nothing while her parents drive, and she just follows other spirits instructions. But as the story progresses, she starts to make decisions for herself and instead of idly doing nothing, she has to enter the working field and work diligently. Though hard work is not the only element of the spirit world that transforms Sen into a stronger, more capable person, it certainly helps her learn to deal with problems maturely.
4. Human Nature's greed. At the beginning of the film greed is on full display as Chihiro whines and complains to her parents (children's greed for attention) meanwhile, Chihiro’s parents’ greed leads them to eat a whole ton of (unpaid) food that eventually turns them into pigs. Literally every character in Spirited Away is greedy from a small scale to a large scale; Haku being the "good-guy" character and all is greedy for power to match Yubabu, the evil witch's power, and Yubabu is so greedy for total control of the spirit realm and gold/gold/gold, eventually leads to the destruction and chaos in the story. She even loses what she covets most as retribution for her greed. In every case, greed makes characters oblivious to what is truly important, preventing them from reaching their full potential as people and spirits. This is a reflection of human society no?
5. Life and Death. Water represents entrapment and freedom; life and death. Chihiro's realizarion that the previously dry ground is now a huge body of water of which she cannot cross. Reflection that you can't run away from fate- Life and Death. In order to survive in the spirit world, Sen works at the bathhouse, which depends on water for its livelihood. In the course of Sen’s work, she rescues a polluted river spirit by pouring liberal amounts of water over him - life. Sen nearly drowns in the process, but the spirit places her in a protective bubble that keeps her from harm, and this and other acts of kindness play a role in her liberation. But beyond just the use of water, the constant struggle between living and dying - and what it means to be alive (a magical thing) and what it means to be dead (who knows what this means) is on full display.
This movie is truly wild runs of children's imagination/fantasies all put into one film; I personally believe after watching nearly all of Miyazaki/Studio Ghibili's films, Spirited Away was the single mof innovative and imaginative story by far. Growing up is a beautiful thing, and this movie is a pretty personal movie to me. My entire analysis of all Story, Art, Sound, and Character for Spirited Away can be summed up in entirely one word: "Beautiful~" And this movie, as a child, as a teen and now as an adult never ceases to remain as one of the most enjoyable movies ever.
Unfortunately, the movie that introduced 'mainstream' America to Miyazaki is not as good as it has been advertised.
Story: The story itself is rather underwhelming; a small spoiled brat is 'spirited away' to, well, the spirit world, her life as she knows it is suddenly in danger, and she has to overcome her selfishness in order to get back to her world, all the time helping and being helped by an attractive young male spirit who is actually a dragon...did you catch all the cliches in there?
Art: This is the movie's one saving grace. Miyazaki was always known for his fantastic animation, and Spirited Away is
no exception. The scenery is breathtakingly realistic, and despite the two-dimensional characters, could almost be mistaken for live-action if one were to not be careful.
Sound: The music is relatively bland; no really noticeable or memorable moments in the score. For once I prefer the sound effects to the actual soundtracks. It is also worth noting that the voice actors usually speak all their lines with one monotonous emotion. This is not inherently their fault, though, as will be explained in the next section.
Character: The movie's weakest point by far. None of the characters are likeable, except the minor ones, and maybe the animals. Sympathy for Chihiro doesn't really grow as the movie progresses, which is no doubt the opposite effect the filmmakers wanted. The spirit Haku is also an offender here; as cool as we are supposed to think he is, this is hindered by his all-around boring-ness.
Enjoyment/Overall: In the middle of recording this for my family to watch later, I had to just cancel it after realizing how disappointing the film was. What was I expecting? Well, maybe a movie that had a storyline that was taken further, characters that actually develop and manage to be likeable, and an interesting musical score. Is that too much to ask? If you haven't already fallen prey to Miyazaki mania with this one, I would say just skip it. Not missing much.
Years ago, I took my first steps into my college dormitory. It was beige, undecorated, and musty, one of the many dorms that stood side-by-side in the repurposed theatre building. I felt numb, barely recalling the goodbye I uttered to my parent’s moments ago. A nervous mother, a proud father, an anxious grandmother, each face ushering me into a new world, one without their support. I remembered my previous graduating class of seven students and how poorly my high school prepared me for my new class of hundreds. I remembered how familiar everything felt, and how comfortable I was just last night.
Chihiro is similar
to me, to all of us, really. She’s uprooted from her past, her school, her comfort, and thrust into a new town, new people, new expectations. Her parents offer consoling thoughts, ones which are echoed by every parent. The banal, trite notions of betterment; the cascading compliments and reassuring nods that would seemingly work on a child, but ultimately do nothing but stoke the flames of anxiety. They’re excited, yet you aren’t, and she isn’t. And so, the parent’s vapid confidence and false encouragement is annihilated at the hands of the new world. Chihiro’s father takes a detour and they stumble upon an old, decrepit tunnel, one which he declares as a path they should take.
Through the darkness they trot, Chihiro clutching helplessly at her mother’s sleeve, begging to turn back. They continue, figuratively leaving their child behind, and lurching to the exit which leads them into a gargantuan field of green. An old amusement park, the father remarks and points them to a nearby town. A towering building at its edge acts as the climax to the settlement, however, for all its ageing beauty, it seems to house no one and nothing beyond some freshly cooked food. Food, which in the parent’s gluttonous assuredness, is there to be consumed by them. After her pleading does her no good, Chihiro decides to explore, as any child would. It doesn’t take long until a boy, Haku, greets her, but the greeting is short-lived, as he remarks on the sunset and orders her to run before night time. Chihiro, blinded by confusion and fear, attempts to find her parents. The sun sets, the dilapidated buildings begin coming to life, as their lights flicker on and spirits shimmer into existence. She shouts for her family, yet they are nowhere to be seen. It isn’t until she stumbles upon that same food stand that she notices her parents have become pigs, engorged by their food, not recognizing her.
Chihiro is spirited away, wisped and torn from comfort twice, an otherworldly experience being the catalyst for her anxiety and discomfort manifesting into dread and horror. She cowers, away from the spirits, the fantastical creatures that just sprung to life, and does her best not to be seen. It isn’t until that same boy, Haku, finds her, that she’s given her first sense of motivation and assuredness that isn’t stooped in well-intentioned but fraudulent optimism. She’s in danger, but she can succeed.
Miyazaki is a god in the medium. Beyond simply being the one to disseminate anime across the world, Miyazaki has a certain dogmatic, old-school appreciation of art and animation. He dislikes computers, the complexity they remove, prompting instead to express himself through naturalism as seen through the spectrum of computer generation versus hand drawn. Through this specific, touted approach, Miyazaki makes immensely personal films. Personal not only in ideas, but in presentation, as the art is often granular, sharp, and intertwined seamlessly with the fantasy world. He pulls from museums, which he often visited during his creation process, as the pseudo-western style often depicted in Meiji-era architecture influenced him heavily. That towering, Meiji-era building at the edge of town, connected by a lone bridge which leads its inhabitants there, is a bathhouse owned by the greedy witch, Yubaba.
Beyond his visual intention, Miyazaki’s personalization was established before creation even began. He remarked about how he spent many summers in a mountain cabin with his family and five girls, and how they influenced him. Their wishes for growth, not physically, but from the inner-spirit, were beliefs which stemmed from certain situations, such as Chihiro’s, that draw from something that’s already within you. The irony being that Chihiro’s alien experience, so different from the rest of her life, is what causes her to grow spiritually.
The trials she faces are reflections of what being lost is. The will not to be seen in crowds, for example; as Haku tells her to hold her breath on the bridge to the bathhouse so she isn’t spotted. Of course, her anxiety gives way and her fears become palpable. Her journey is inner as much as it is outer, as reflected by her inching her way down a steep staircase to reach the boiler room. Her fear prevents her from making any progress, just one step down proving to be far too daunting. It isn’t until the staircase begins crumbling, splintering underneath her that she is sent screaming down, running for her life, yet making it out without as much as a scratch. Her inner growth persists through a scene-by-scene basis, as the moments after involve a similar trial. She observes the dust sprites throwing coal into the boiler as an initially frightening spider-man, Kamaji, makes his usual rounds. Chihiro is forced to make an introduction, one step, as proven visually, is not enough.
This is how Miyazaki mastered his narrative craft, as he finds ways to show the coming of age story which speaks to kids, not down to them. There is no abrasive comedic relief character thrust into scenes simply to have someone lighten the mood through stilted remarks or the usual self-aware pandering which plague so many modern animated films. There’s only the Chihiro, her story, and the world at our eye line. His willingness to let his scenes breath, giving them space to exist beyond simply serving an expository or comedic purpose, is exactly what grounds his fantastical narratives. When there is drama and trepidation, it isn’t bookended by a gag.
It is no coincidence Miyazaki chose a bathhouse as the central force of his narrative, as spiritual healing is directly related to ablution. As read by the Japanese myth of the Buddha and the Bathwater, where a Japanese monk encounters a Bodhisattva and, through his own trial, becomes “the holy man of the hot springs”. Hot springs and, tangentially, bathhouses are linked to physical and mental cleansing, as there is a conscious transformation of mind and soul which comes from the earth. They act as reagents for change, a change which in Chihiro’s case, is initially unintentional and bred from fear. Fear giving access to formative experiences isn’t a new concept, as the majority of character-building drama and, more realistically, mentality-changing experiences within the real world, are birthed off the backs of great stress, anxiety, and self-doubt. Formative experiences must hinge on moments of weakness facilitating new-found strength.
As Chihiro is faced with the most frightening trials of all, she finds that same inner strength and spirit that Miyazaki comments on, and uses it to spur spiritual growth. She’s still a ten-year-old girl by the end of the Spirited away, but one more capable of self-sustaining. While Spirited Away is palatable for all, what Miyazaki does, once again, is personal. A coming of age story that depends on overcoming the fear of the unknown. The notion that even in a situation where there is nothing to recognize, you can find something in yourself to succeed through.
I reflect on Spirited Away the same way I reflect on myself years ago, taking that first step into a dormitory. I was left alone in a city I’ve never been to, around people I’ve never met. The first year felt like Chihiro’s descent down the fracturing staircase, and similar to her, once I landed on solid ground I realized just how little I’ve been hurt in the process. As she did, the future steps forward I took more confidently, with more vigor and determination, reaching inward to grow spiritually. So, looking back, I remember the doubt, the anxiety, and the unease. I remember my first friends and how rigorous my studies were. I remember how familiar everything came to feel, and how comfortable I was just last night.
Spirited Away was one of my first anime. I remember my mom came home from the movie store with it one day. It was a pleasant surprise for me to find that such a film exists. After it ended I said to myself, this isn't like any other animated films I had ever seen before . . . and then I watched it a second time.
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.
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.
No matter how you approach a review for this movie, this will always be one of the greatest animes ever made. It has fluid artwork and strong characters. And it eschews from typical anime stereotypes. Most importantly, it has a strong moral point about growing up.
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
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?).
Looking at this film, I kept wondering why this film was popular, so I decided to review this myself. When you have looked at my scores, yes, it may be shocking, but my score system works differently from MALs. I'll go straight into the pros and the cons.
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.
I've discussed a lot of Studio Ghibli films in the past, and I'll probably touch on more in future. Surprisingly one of their best known films, Spirited Away, hasn't come up yet. It was written and directed by Miyazaki Hayao with production beginning in 2000 and the eventual release in 2001 breaking box office records and winning various awards. Of course, something being popular doesn't necessarily translate to it being good. Although it's a Miyazaki Hayao film so the probability of it being ungood is exceedingly low. Either way, let's take a look.
Our tale opens with a family driving to their new home. The father
gets lost and goes down a side street, eventually coming across a worn down tunnel. They arrive at a strange deserted area and find large plates piled with food at an abandoned stall. Our heroine, the young Chihiro, encourages her parents not to eat it because whoever runs the stall is going to get mad at them, but her parents help themselves because she is the only one in the group with common sense. She wanders off and encounters a young boy who tells her that she can't be there and to hurry and get across the river before night falls. She finds it strange but does as she's told. Unfortunately, when she goes looking for her parents all she finds are a couple of massive pigs and by the time she reaches the river it's stretched out far wider than it was before and she has no way to cross it. She finds herself in a strange land full of spirits with no way home. If she wants to avoid getting turned into an animal like her parents then she has to find work. The main conflict centres around Chihiro's struggle to save her parents and return home.
As rare as it is for me, I have nothing about the story to criticise. The quiet atmospheric scenes are really effective at establishing information about the world, and helping build tension. It's a good thing they didn't do something stupid like throw in narration or chatter because that would have just destroyed the lovely atmosphere. The pacing is spectacular. The narrative itself is highly compelling with a lot of interesting moments. The spirit world is fascinating and the story structure is really good with a very natural progression. I suppose that I could say that the ending is kind of obvious if I wanted to nitpick but in all fairness I can't really fault a children's movie for that especially when everything that builds up to it works so well and the ending itself has a lot of really good aspects and works very well. It may be obvious, but it's still a good ending.
Chihiro is a really interesting heroine with a good amount of complexity and she does develop quite a bit over the course of the film. It has strong coming of age elements and it handles them spectacularly. The secondary cast also has a lot of complex and interesting characters. Even the little soot ball creatures have some facets to them. I do like that the antagonist isn't some stock villain cliché but is more just kind of greedy and self-centred while having some sympathetic traits as well.
Unsurprisingly, the artwork is spectacular. I've never seen a Studio Ghibli film that didn't look gorgeous. The backgrounds are lovely. The various spirits are really well designed and have interesting looks. I particularly liked No Face and the dragon. The action sequences are really well done.
The cast is really good. Irino Miyu, yes the same gent who was in hoshi wo ou kodomo, Hiiragi Rumi, and Natsuki Mari are all really good. And Natsuki voices two different characters who deliberately sound kind of similar but she gives them both subtly different qualities that make them sound believably like different people. The music is really good as well.
No ho-yay in this one either.
Spirited Away is certainly a spectacular film. It's easy to see why it made such an impact and has garnered so much praise. The story is amazing, the characters are complex, the artwork is beautiful and the acting and music are both superb. I wouldn't call it better than Nausicca or Grave of the Fireflies but it's certainly a masterpiece in its own right and easily on par with them. As such, my final rating is going to be a 10/10. Tomorrow I'll finish up film festival week with a look at Miyamoto Musashi: Souken ni Haseru Yume.
I'm sorry, with respect to what he's accomplished, Miyazaki can't tell a good story to save his life. As a test, ask someone who loves Spirited Away for a brief wiki-style synopsis and see if they can do it. Probably not, but it's not their fault; it's a plot based on coincidences and contrivances. The sentimentalism is manipulative & manufactured (aww, the old spider guy has developed a grandfatherly attachment to the protagonist for no reason! etc) and the usually great Joe Hisaishi is reduced to sappy Disney style orchestral "emotional scene #50" muzak. At a bloated two hours, I don't think good visuals are
Highest grossing film in Japanese history, winner of an American Academy award in 2002, and it's absolutely amazing.
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.
Well, usually i avoid reviewing movies because for me it's hard to judge them because i'm more used with series but still, i felt i had to make a review to this piece of art..
Let's get to it .. Sen to Chihiro no Makikakushi or spirited away is a movie that came out in 2001 and had a huge success, it had so many that it streamed outside of japan, in many different countries and translated to many different languages.. when i first watched this movie i had 10 years old and i didn´t realize the beauty of it.. now 7 years later i
decided to review this movie again, and for my surprise, as soon as i started watching it, I started remembering everything .. what does it means? That in fact, when i watched for the first time, i actually enjoyed a lot for remember it so well 7 years later just by looking at the characters.
This anime won the oscar price for best animation in 2003, yeah pretty cool hein?
Story: 9/10. One word to describe it: Magical.. it drags us into that magical world where everything seems so .. magical ! It is fresh and really enjoyable actually. I mean this can be considered a kids movie, and it is but unlike disney movies, where everything seems so childish and ridiculous, here everything looks so nice.. i don´t know why honestly, maybe it is because of the tracks used ..
The plot is interesting, creative, original, fluid, and for 120 min, has a nice pace and some twists. Even though being so great, the themes are not that different from the kids movies, which unfortunately makes it look more "close to clichê".. when we have such amazing plot and they don´t take advantage of it, it really makes me mad.
Plus, certain characters in the movie i don´t know why they even appear ! There is a black monster over there that gets 20-30 mins screen time to be totally forgotten.. really felt like he was there to fill in.. and i really hate that !
Art: 9/10. It was made in 2001 so it doesn´t look really beautiful to our eyes but still .. the animation is the most fluid animation i've ever seen ! Everything looks so real in terms of movement that it felt like it was being filmed. Plus the detail on the background is stupid amazing. While in some TV shows and even some other movies, they play with shadows, vision camps and gradients to "save" some budget by cutting of completely the background (examples: using shadows of black/white they can hide some details, so usually dark places or bright full ones are used to do it; by putting the character in the first plan of vision, they can blur the background that it won´t look bad because we will have our eyes on the character), it's techniques like these ones that manage to save some money... here ... THERE IS NOT ANYTHING LIKE THAT .. every single frame has details so deep as the colours of the pages of the books .. i mean that is just silly. The background is so full of so many things, that forces us to wonder it while the action is happening instead of focusing only the main vision plan .. it's beyond amazing...
Sound: 10/10 .. please it makes everything look unreal .. and that is the purpose so they made it well.. it fits extremely well with the enviroment, which just creates a nice mood. And this is important actually, like the animation, the sound has the power to "turn on" the anime/movie by making it look better from what actually is .. both the animation and the sound have that effect, which is just great!
Character: 7/10. Well i don´t know if it is because of being movie or whatever, but we only have this characters: Chihiro, her friends and her "enemies", if you see the movie you will understand the quotation marks on "enemies".. really disapointing.. However our main character saves the day, even though she does not have much development .. it's a movie for god sake ! They don´t have time for deep monologues talking about her personal feelings.. her story is just amazing and can even teach us something .. the rewards of bravery, friendship and nobility.
Enjoyment: Which such a nice plot, nice animation and nice tracks .. well i full enjoyed every single minute. I got sad when this movie ended .. i wanted more .. and this my friends, is the feeling that tells you if the movie/anime was good or not..
The ending was just ... like everything else.. magical. I really can´t tell you more because i want zero spoil, i want you to full appreciate this movie like i did.
Overall: 9/10 .. it has some flaws so it can´t be a 10/10 .. i would say 9.5/10 so .. you won´t have regrets about spending 5 minutes to give this movie a chance, after 5 minutes into the movie .. sayonara my friends .. i see you in the end of the movie :)
I reccomend this anime to everyone. It's a piece of art that everyone must try some day ..
Spirited away is a story of changes, of a way, of a road to follow and it does it's work splendidly. The presence that it holds over the medium is large but the most beautiful part of this experience is that it lives up to it's figure and legacy.
The story is simple but masterfully managed, it revolves around Chihiro, Ogino a naive, spoiled and stubborn 10-year-old girl that is traveling with her parents and discovers an abandoned amusement park on the way to their new house, she is less than pleased when her parents stop by to visit the area, venturing inside she realizes that
there is more to this place than what can be seen as strange things happen once dusk falls. Things start to change when goshtly apparitions and food that turns her parents into pigs occurs and those events are just the start of a journey that will take her to things she had never experienced before. Chihiro unwittingly crossed into the spirit world.
The art of this show is amazing in the literal sense of the word, the ghost have a design that can be found in our dreams and every character has a design that just shows how beautiful is the spirit world. Every character has his own movements and dynamic with the world, the atmosphere feels lively and every part of the world has a coordination and a sense of harmony that gives a new dimension to everything that it has to offer.
The music is special, every piece is art in it's purest form and are interpreted with majesty and with a sense of purpose and mission, the opening theme Day of the River/Ano hi no kawa" by Joe Hisaishi is the most apt choice that could have been made for opening the show and the ending theme Itsumo Nando demo (Always with Me)" by Yumi Kimura
Is really special and gives the taste that the final part of the series left in you a bigger feel of nostalgia and thoughtful memory.
The characters are what drive this story, they are the most complex and meaningful part of the entire show, they all have a fealing of familiarity and magic that just makes your heart melt in an ocean of joy and happy memories that makes the experience that the show gives you all the more graceful and meaningul that gives a new meaning to the story.
Ogino, Chihiro is a complex person for her age and is capable of driving the story and holding the weight of the events that happen in it, seeing her behaving and working in order to save her parents is one of the best fealings a series has given me, Haku is also a great companion and makes a great couple with her, seeing the relationship between Chihiro and Haku grow is one of the most exciting parts of the story.
The rest of the cast of characters also do their work as well as they could have ever done it, Lin is a likable character that works in the hotel, Kamaji behaves like a grandfather would and constitutes one of the most important workers in the facility, Yubaba and Zeniba are like complete opposites eventhough they were born successively. Yubaba is a grumpy old lady and Zeniba behaves like a lovely grandma would do.
This series is an enjoyable experience that is considered a classic for a reason, it does a lot of things well and is an all-around masterful work of animation and one of the reasons as to why i love this medium so much.