* Prices may differ from that shown
This film is a beautiful Japanese masterpiece from Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli. Visually, the distinctive style of Ghibli's anime is present throughout, and the background looks like painted landscapes.
Chihiro is transported to a magical world when her parents are transformed into pigs (because, you know, these things happen,) and must work at a bath-house for spirits and other creatures at the behest of a witch, under the name of Sen. As you can imagine, this leads to one hell of a magical adventure, with new friends, soot sprites, and a no-face spirit. Can Chihiro save her parents and the trapped boy, Haku, who must also do the witch's bidding? Or will she forget herself in this magical place?
This has this incredibly beautiful lilt to the plot, the animation, and the music, that Ghibli and Miyazaki due so exceptionally well. It's no wonder, really, that this film won an Oscar for Best Animated Film.
While there are some scary scenes, and a lot of blood in places, it's all done in that sort of fairy tale way, and so should be appropriate for most ages. Certainly, you could do worse than to introduce kids to a true wonder of world cinema - whether in the dubbed or subtitled form. It's probably too complex and slow moving for the very youngest of children though. You don't need kids to enjoy this - the mastery and gentle story weaving are enjoyable regardless of age, and if you're a fan of animation, fantasy, fairy tales, or just magic and good storytelling, I urge you to give it a shot.
Not long after completing PRINCESS MONONOKE, Hayao Miyazaki announced that he would retire. That turned out to be only a temporary respite, because a few years after MONONOKE, Miyazaki would create a movie that would surpass that 1999 ecological epic, both critically and financially--SPIRITED AWAY. The movie was a colossal commercial success, becoming Japan's most popular film of all time. It has since toured around the world, earning acclaim and awards at every film festival it is screened at.
This overwhelmingly gorgeous animated tale begins when an unhappy young girl, Chihiro, is moving with her parents to a new town. Along the way, the family is drawn to a mysterious tunnel that leads to an exotic new world. Spotting delicious-looking food on the table of an old restaurant, Chihiro's parents gobble it down gluttonously--and are transformed into squealing pigs. A distraught Chihiro discovers that this new world is actually a haven for spirits and creatures. Naturally, her impulse is to panic. Then an enigmatic youth, Haku, informs her that she must take a job at the central bathhouse in order to break the curse on her parents. But the bathhouse's greedy enchantress, the cackling witch Yubaba, isn't going to make things easy for her. Fortunately, with the help of a spider-like boiler man, Kamaji, and a tough, yet secretly softhearted maiden named Lin, Chihiro might find the key to save her parents from becoming bacon.
What is truly unique about SPIRITED AWAY is its acquisition of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2002. It was a triumph that no one could have anticipated. Hayao Miyazaki's films have been well known for many years in Japan and by a small underground band of fans, but up until that time, not one animated feature made in Japan has achieved such an honorary award. It's a wonder, too, because the film, despite receiving enthusiastic reviews from almost every critic across the board, was only playing in select theaters. Yet acclaim was so strong that its success took everyone (including Disney, who nonetheless translated and released SPIRITED AWAY theatrically) by surprise. Consequently, America received more exposure to Miyazaki's works through brand-new, professional translations. If it weren't for SPIRITED AWAY's success, these films probably never would have seen the light of day in America… or worldwide, for that matter.
That said, I feel that SPIRITED AWAY gets more ballyhooing and hype than it really deserves. Don't get me wrong, I like the film and it certainly deserves the Oscar it won (not to mention my highest rating), but I don't consider SPIRITED AWAY the "mother of all Japanese animation", nor is it the "only Miyazaki movie worth watching." The reason I say this is because Miyazaki has made so many other wonderful movies in his career that I feel it is unfair to single out one of his works as a standard for all animation. Especially when there are other animated features which are every bit as worthy of the "masterpiece" status.
Personal gripes aside, SPIRITED AWAY is worth watching for many reasons. The animated atmosphere that Miyazaki creates literally springs to life with imagination and beauty--watching this movie is almost like watching richly detailed Japanese art paintings moving. The spirits who inhabit the world are a bizarre, yet appealing bunch--including an oozing stench of slime and muck called the Stink Spirit (who naturally turns out to be a River Spirit clogged up with garbage; no doubt a message about the dangers of pollution). Probably the most interesting of these creatures is a shadowy, white-masked specter called No Face, who reacts to how people treat him. When we first meet him, he is a nondescript individual, but when Chihiro treats him kindly, he becomes inspired to help her. Observing the avarice and greed of Yubaba's bathhouse servants, however, compels him to consume everything in his sight, until he becomes an outrageously enormous beast that poses a threat to the bathhouse.
In addition to which there are lots of bravura sequences that really showcase how beautiful hand-drawn animation can be--my favorite of which is a surreal train journey across a pond of water. This sequence is a stunning example of blending computer generated imagery with cel-drawn animation, in that it blends so flawlessly it’s almost hard to notice.
If Chihiro is sometimes a bit too whiney, then her supporting cast of co-stars provide for some interesting character development. Haku, for example, appears to be calm and kind for the most part, but we soon learn that this is only one facet of his character--yet Chihiro seems to believe, no matter what anyone tells her, that Haku is indeed a good soul. Likewise, Lin acts gruff and somewhat mean to Chihiro when they first meet, but she eventually comes to look after Chihiro like a parent. Interestingly, while Yubaba may be greedy and selfish, she's not a one-dimensional villainess; one senses that she secretly admires Chihiro's determination yet won't admit it to herself. Her twin sister, Zeniba, is the total opposite; she lives a simple, pleasant life in a humble cottage yet is totally content with her way of living--although it is hard to tell that at first because she initially appears vowing vengeance on Haku. Characters as interesting as this has always been a trait of Miyazaki's productions, and arguably what ultimately gives SPIRITED AWAY its heart rather than its jawdroppingly gorgeous visuals... although the film's occasional shades of symbolism (the Stink Spirit, No Face, as well as Chihiro's undying faith in Haku) are a definite plus as well.
SPIRITED AWAYs journey to America (and the world) is an interesting story in itself, too. Disney had owned the rights for Miyazaki's works for many years, but after PRINCESS MONONOKE earned disappointing receipts at the U.S. box office, the company began to reconsider its deal with Ghibli. Fortunately, PIXAR guru John Lasseter (a longtime fan and friend of Miyazaki's for years now) and Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki refused to let the deal die; their persistent efforts finally persuaded Disney to obtain the rights for the movie. Interestingly, when translating the movie into English, it was Lasseter himself who oversaw the voice casting and script adaptation. His efforts, as well as those of director Kirk Wise and script writers Cindy and Donald Hewitt, are very commendable and pay off handsomely just as Jack Fletcher's dubs of PRINCESS MONONOKE, CASTLE IN THE SKY, and KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE.
Of the voices, Suzanne Pleshette comes off best with her deliciously throaty, wicked performance as Yubaba as well as her grandmotherly sister Zeniba, and is well supported by many of the other cast members. Susan Egan brings toughness and warmth to Lin, David Ogden Stiers makes an appropriately gruff yet gentle Kamaji, regular Pixar cameo John Ratzenberger has a lot of fun with the Assistant Manager, Michael Chiklis and Lauren Holly voice Chihiro's ignorant parents convincingly, and Jason Marsden does an excellent job depicting Haku's mysterious and shifty nature.
However, I have two issues with the dub--the first of which is Daveigh Chase's voicing of the lead, Chihiro. While she does a solid job overall, her sometimes shrill screeching is a bit off-putting, at least to my ears. The second of these issues is another personal gripe; some folks act as though this is the only dub of the Disney-Ghibli English tracks that is worth watching and that the rest are inferior. This is unjust; each of the Disney-Ghibli dubs have been special and different in their own way and to single one out over any of them just doesn't make sense. As such, SPIRITED AWAY is not the ultimate Disney-Ghibli dub; it’s yet another top-class dub.
Some critics have faulted the dub for adding in occasional extra lines (an attack no different from the ones that were done to KIKI and CASTLE); however, some of them are quite helpful. For example, there is a Japanese lettering on the front of Yubaba's bathhouse which translates as "bathhouse", but since this would be alienating American audiences, the writers add a brief line of explaination. One common criticism I hear is the addition of two extra lines at the end of the movie; some say that they cheapen the experience. However, the scriptwriters stand by their decision: they felt as though Chihiro's journey needed some emotional wrap-up (since early reviews of the film indicated that the movie lacked closure), hence why the resulting lines were crafted. It's a creative decision that not everyone will agree with, but taken into consideration, it is easy to understand why such an alteration was made.
I don't want to sound like I'm putting down SPIRITED AWAY at all; it's just that I find it a tad bit annoying that more often than not it is used as the yardstick to measure all Japanese Anime and dubbing in general with, and I only see it as just another good piece of entertainment--nothing more, nothing less. That said, SPIRITED AWAY's rich, colorful visuals and imaginative storyline make it more than worth the price of admission, and, as mentioned, we owe it to the film's acquisition of the Best Animated Feature Oscar that Miyazaki's works ever saw the light of day from elsewhere than his home country of the land of the Rising Sun.
This oscar winning anime directed by Hayao Miyazaki and created by Studio Ghibli is a tale of a girl Chihiro.
10 year old Chihiro and her family are moving to a new town where she will have to start a new school, make new friends and adjust to her new surroundings, however in spirit of a typical young child, she is incredibly pessimistic about doing so.
Her parents and Chihiro are driving to their new house however take a wrong turn which causes them to drive through a derelict forest. Eventually they discover an abandoned town which despited Chihiro's pretenses, they explore. While exploring they find a what seems to be "public" feast in which her parents immediately begin eating. Chihiro with her best efforts tries to pull them away but instead it just causes them to gobble it down further, so she decides to independently explore the rest of the town.
Soon after it becomes dark, and we are introduced to young Haku, an oddly familar boy, who in a panicked tone tells Chihiro to leave before night-fall: "It's not safe for a human after night-fall!" Confused and scared she runs to collect her parents but to her alarm and surprise they have transformed into despondent pigs. Unsure what to do, and unable to leave because of her parents, she is forced in to the dangerous spirit world full of odd and quirky characters all of which don't like humans.
Meanwhile, Haku helps her by instructing her to get a job at the bathhouse by aksing Yubaba; a selfish woman with an oversized head and oversized baby. Yubaba allows Chihiro to work in the boiler house under one condition, she can take her name. Unknown of the consequences, Chihiro accepts...
Will Chihiro save her parents? Will she ever get back home? What is this mysterious spirit world?
The film runs for 125 minutes all of which is hand drawn animation with impeccable attention to detail on every aspect of this alternate fantasy world. Like many Studio Ghibli classics such as "My Neighbour Totoro", "Howls Moving Castle" and "Ponyo" they all have stunning atmospheric soundtracks. The Spirited Away soundtrack goes perfectly with the film and really emphasises all of the strangeness and odd familiarity to the film. Such as some of the characters such as the adorable Sootballs, suit there music and almost move to the beat. Other pieces of music such as "One Summer's Day" and "Dragon Boy", set the scene and with the musics build up and stunning visuals, help to really evoke emotion.
The voice actors (english dub) are superb. Pixar Animation Studios dubbed it with the assistance of John Lassiter which really helped the voice actors give a believable performance. These actors consist of Daveigh Chase who voiced Chihiro and has voiced characters such as Lilo from Lilo and Stitch. Susan Egan who voiced Linn (a maid in the bath house) who has also voiced Meg in Hercules and many more.
I throughly enjoyed this movie and have watched it numerous times. It seems that every time you watch it, you spot something different that you haven't seen before. You will never tire of this film, it is such a contrast to most animations, and its surreal plot, alien characters and encapuslating world will be sure to create a perfect escapism.
I would not recommend this movie to any young children because the storyline is fairly sinister and like the majority of animes, it has quite a dark feel to it. However if you're an adult or child and are not easily scared and loves to be immersed in to a fantasy world then this movie is for you.
For many, Spirited Away is the first gateway into anime. The film follows a young girl called Chihiro, on a journey to restore her parents into human form after turning into pigs.
The transition from man to pig comes in the form of Chihiro's family finding an abandoned unfinished theme-park - a reference to the many theme parks opened throughout Japan to make people feel happier but lacked the necessary money to finish completion; Thatches did a similar thing for England throughout the 80s, to stop out of work miners feeling sad.
On arrival the family smell food and find a restaurant with no one inside. The parents begin to gorge but Chihiro's instincts tell her not do, so instead she wonders around the theme-park and meets a boy named Haku who tells her to leave with her parents straight away. As the sky begins to darken, Chihiro finds her parents still gorging but this time they have turned into pigs. Spirits start to wander the streets and the way back out of the park is blocked by a great river.
Haku gets Chihiro into a mysterious bathhouse that only spirits may enter and sets her to work in the boiler room whilst a plan is formulated to get her parents back to normal.
This film is certainly worthy of it's Oscar and does not disappoint. It takes you on one hell of a journey through Japanese mysticism concerning the spirit world, in a stunningly detailed world - the running through the flowers is an eye-popping sight to behold.
Once Spirited Away takes over you, a journey into the beautiful world of Ghibli begins.
Spirited Away was the first anime I ever bought, having had very little experience of the genre (apart from cartoons whilst growing up). I didn't know what to expect with it, as with all animes I never do. And I don't think I appreciated it the first time I watched it. However, I have since a) watched it again and b) bought the soundtrack, and my mind has since changed.
I'd like to clarify for those who follow my film reviews that I do not judge a film by its soundtrack - I just find that the music is an extremely important feature of the film, and I have somewhat of an affinity for collecting good soundtracks. And I can assure you that Spirited Away has an amazing soundtrack and is an amazing film.
The opening is of a family moving house, yet that story has about 5 minutes of significance in the film. The story's main focus is of the coming of age of the loveable Chihiro. Director Hayao Miyazaki loves telling stories from the eyes of a child, as everyone can relate to it in some way or another, and the world seems so much more innocent through a child's eyes. And Spirited Away is no different. It is indeed clever how the whole journey begins with a house move, but the story focuses on the world of the child, not on the adult affairs of moving house.
The rest of the story I do not want go give away as I never want to hear a film's plot before seeing it, and the point of a review isn't to analyse plot but to give opinion. Whether or not you find my opinions trustworthy, my opinion in this case is that Spirited Away is an amazing film, and is possibly Ghibli's most beautiful film, visually and auditorily. I would highly recommend it as an introduction to the world of anime, or as a must-see film.
Since been blown away by the creativeness and sheer brilliance of this animated adventure I have found many more films in the same ilk to add to my wish list. This was my first real venture into the world of Japanese anime and my first encounter with Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. I simply cannot wait to see more of the visionary director's make-belief worlds.
Before I saw this film I didn't think anything could beat Disney's greatest animations however, I was very wrong. Everything about Spirited Away is brilliant and it more than matches even Disney's best efforts. The animation is brilliant, the characters are superb and the storyline is of pure excellence.
The film follows the common storyline of a young child coming of age; you have to credit the films creators for making this aged old story original and as compelling as it is. The film is about a young girl named Chichiro; she is pretty much your typical young girl, pretty selfish and likes to have her own way. At the beginning of the film she is moving house with her parents and is faced with daunting prospects of starting a new school and making new friends, understandably she seems pretty reluctant.
On the way to their new home, her Dad get's lost whilst taking a short cut through a forest, they come upon what is seemingly a derelict deserted town and despite Chichiro's objections her parents decide to take a look around. They stumble upon a seemingly deserted feast, Chichiro protests but her parents start gobbling down the food regardless and Chichiro is left to wander the deserted streets on her own.
As night falls a young boy named Haku approaches her and tells her to leave quickly before night-time descends. She returns to her parents only to find they have been transformed into two monstrous pigs. She is thrust into a new world, a spirit world. Whilst here she meets some wild and wonderful characters as she begins her quest to get her parents back. As the film develops we see her learn new values, she becomes more aware of the real world and the possibility of this spirit world actually been real is never completely abandoned. This makes the film all the more enjoyable as you don't if she is going to escape or what she has to escape from.
Despite the wonderful storyline, the ending is something of a disappointment. After the massive adventure and development that Chichiro has just undertaken the film sort of just fizzles out. It is by no means a convincing ending and I feel the writers just ran out of ideas, but I can see the difficulty in writing a good ending to a film like this, the adventure is that vast and magical it must be a hard thing to come up with.
Throughout the film we meet some wonderful characters. Haku seems a brave boy who is trying to look out for Chichiro; he is one of the characters to really get some development as we learn why he is in this strange and fantastical world. One of my favourite characters is No-Face a strange voiceless spirit, although he is without speech I really related to him as a character and as the film develops he is one of the few characters I became attached to and I really hoped he had a happy ending.
There are several other prominent and brilliant characters throughout the film, from Boh a giant baby with an evil witch as a Mother to Kamajii, a six armed old man who operates the boiler room. The vision created by director Miyazaki is nothing short of miraculous. I have never been so immersed and never seen a film where I hoped to meet a new character more than this one.
On a negative note, only a few of the characters have a proper story arc and for me this is one of the areas that let's the film down. Although you obviously can't expect every single character to be fully developed there were a few characters that I felt deserved something more. Kamajii is a character that really impressed me and I really think that even a small story arc would have made the film better than it already is. Rin, another worker who becomes something of a mentor to Chichiro is another character I think was underdeveloped and again just a small back story or some small developments would have added to the experience of the film.
However, the animation of the characters is wickedly creative and beautiful to look at. I especially loved the smaller creatures in the film; the bird and the tiny mouse like creature were simply brilliant to watch and rival No-Face as my favourite characters. Then we have the small, furry, black creatures that help Kamajii run the boiler room, by scuttling back and forth throwing black rocks into the furnace, they are joyfully playful and simply a lot of fun to watch.
As well as having some great characters, the settings in which the events take place also look brilliant. It has everything from the weird world of the bath houses where different spirits come to bathe to the eerie railway station that connects the strange worlds of the spirits. The backdrops to the events all add to the film, whether it is the jolliness of the small black creatures or the uncertainty of a character like No-Face it simply brilliant. What's more you actually feel very much like the characters in the film would do, particularly when Chichiro encounters fearful situations and scary characters.
This is as much down to the animation and reaction of the characters as it is to the soundtrack that plays along with the film. Every piece of music accompanies its scene perfectly adding to the illusion and mystery of where we are and what is going to happen.
The film itself is often compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the comparison comes because in both we see a young girl thrust into an imaginary world where she makes the journey from childhood to adulthood. Whilst I can see the similarities in the two stories I disagree with the comparison. In Spirited Away as I have mentioned previously we are never told if the world is real or imaginary and there is no way of knowing whereas, in Alice in Wonderland, Alice awakes from a dream at the end of the story confirming that her world is imaginary. For me this makes Spirited Away a much more convincing piece of work and is perhaps one of the reasons why it is so adored in the western world.
Overall the film is excellent both visually and in substance. The story is magnificent and really pulls you in. It is a film that will appeal to all ages and if you think you're too old for animations watch this film, I guarantee you will enjoy it. I am seriously looking forward to seeing more of Studio Ghibli's releases, and I hope they are all as enjoyable as this one.
Another magnificent fun film from the incredible Hayao Miyazaki.
Chihiro and her parents move to a new town and Chihiros new school.
Upon arriving they get a little lost and end up in an old run down theme type park which is very spooky and more than a little bizarre.
Chihiro spots little spirit houses in the undergrowth and strange carved stones in the woods.
They all decide to explore the park, although Chihiro is a little reluctant, the park is colourfully painted if quite rundown. They come across a deserted yet delicious smelling food stall and decide to tuck in but Chihiro has a bad feeling about the park and holds back.
Instead she goes of to explore by herself and this is where the movie really takes off.....
Night falls quickly and the park begins to light up by itself and dark shadowy spirits can be seen at each stall and by the time Chihiro returns to her parents they have changed into huge pigbeasts..
Spirits both good and evil are afoot in the park and once befriended by young Haku, Chihiro then sets out to rescue her parents and escape this spirit infested realm.
The animation is just superb, very colourful and well shot. The story flows wonderfully and moves along at a rapid pace. Weird and yet truly wonderful animation would best describe this film, not as good as 'Nausicaa of the valley of the wind' or 'Howls moving Castle' but fairly close.
The music which is constant throughout the movie compliments the action perfectly adding to the drama, thrilling sequences and scary bits.
Small children will love this film for its dazzling colours and wonderful vistas.
The English dubbing is flawless and gives the film a homely feel.
Another gem of a movie from master anime Hayao Miyazaki.
A Magical adventure that will enthral all the family.
Very highly recommended.
Other Hayao Miyazaki. Films too see are:
* Nausicaa of the valley of the Wind
* The Castle of Cagliostro
* Castle in the Sky
* Kiki's Delivery Service
* Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon
* Flying Phantom Ship
* Animal Treasure Island
* Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves
* Princess Mononoke
* Tales from Earthsea
Synopsis: A girl wonders away from her parents and finds a whole other world of adventure and magic.
It seems that with every film that Miyazaki makes he sets the standards for animated features, only to set them higher with his next picture. And yet, he doesn't confuse himself with hopes of a plot with intriguing hints and pokes of social instability but instead maintains a singular vision of childhood brilliance, friendly morals and in the end - utter fun! the amazing thing is that this mans vision is no throwback or homage to films of old, because no one has ever made films like this... and he certainly isn't precursor of things to come because you can't imagine anybody but him producing such magical films. The evidence of his stature and importance isn't hard to find in his native Japan, ever picture he produces brings in more money than his last and often beating out the leading Hollywood blockbuster in terms of profit.
In my opinion the key to his marvelous success can be found in the very heart of his pictures, no one else - not Pixar, not Dreamworks and not even Disney - can create such fantastically original and never repetitive works like Miyazaki, ever picture seems to glow with inventiveness that which can never be found in mainstream animation where everything has been done and every 'child teaching' social moral has been mass produced over and over again - yeah we get it sticking together is good and having friends is important... it was a shock when Wall-e actually stepped back and showed society what was really going on. Miyazaki's films also contain a level of intelligence that makes western attempts seem pretty embarrassing, yeah we hear back home that they can be fun for Adults and Children but with Ghibli this phrase actually speaks some truth. Simple and enjoyable enough for the latter to enjoy and yet complex and clever enough for the former which lends to a most amazing film experience.
Now to actually comment of Spirited Away, chosen mainly because not only is it one of his best (Along with Princess Mononoke and My Neighbour Toroto) but also because it is one of his most known. Winning the oscar for best animated film back in 2001 Spirited Away is basically Miyazaki's take of an eastern Alice in Wonderland where pour Chihiro is swept into a world quite magical and unlike her own. Though here i think it is done with much more fantasy and jaw dropping imagination, with Miyazaki's hand drawn settings and characters of the world more diverse and incredible than any ever put to the big screen. A world filled with crazy spirits and creatures that follow inscrutable rules and impenetrable logic of which Chihiro cannot contemplate or seem to follow very well. Throw in a giant baby and an evil spirit that rewards people for their greed and you have on hell of an experience - as one critic wrote 'Chihiro is a stranger in a strange world where the denizens consider her the strangest of them all'
Overall the experience is enjoyable for anyone and one that will stay with you for a long time. Spirited away was my first example of Ghibli back in 2001 and since there i have had the pleasure of collecting most of their features with great excitement and joy. There never-ending magic is a triumph of modern cinema and especially for animated features from all over the world. There aren't many experience in film that fill you with so many emotions that make the whole journey seem like a very different adventure. For any of you out their who have yet to enjoy such a journey, it is high time that you buy you way in Ghibli's magic. Though if you're looking for fun, stay away from Grave of Fireflies - for as brilliant as it is you might find it a little different to my descriptive words of happiness and joy.
Spirited away is a very interesting film.
It is a Japanese Anime film which is a must watch for Anime/manga lovers.
The art work in this film is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.
This is a spectacular film for anyone of any age, you may be thinking "its a cartoon, not for me" this is a completely wrong attitude to have about this film, this film will leave you speechless, it has had many good reviews from lots of people including Jonathan Ross which he states on the cover "with out a doubt one of the the greatest animated films i have ever seen" And i have to agree with him.
The storyline for this film is very good, its about a girl and her parents that go to there new house, then come across a abandoned theme park- then there is a magical twist which I'm not going to say as it will ruin the surprise.
In my opinion this is a must have for anyone.
Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli creations are frequently touted as the most engaging and emotionally resonant animated films currently being made, and certainly on the level with the likes of Pixar. Whilst I agree that the animation is superb, I've always found the stories rather clunky and hyper-fantastical without any set of rules, and Spirited Away isn't really any different, but it IS a very good film nonetheless, and probably the best thing that Studio Ghibli have done.
A 10 year old girl, Chihiro, is moving to a new town with her parents, and along the way, they take a shortcut which actually ends up transporting them to a fantastical land. The parents hastily help themselves to the food on offer, and for their greed, are turned into pigs. Chihiro is now trapped in the land, with an inundation of water trapping what was the entrance and exit. In this land, she encounters a plethora of wild and wonderful creatures, and a fellow child named Haku, who is perhaps the only person like her in the land.
Visually, this is an absolutely stunning and sumptous film - the character designs and such are superbly realised, and the plot is less meandering and more bearable than most Ghibli films. That said, at over 2 hours, it does feel a little overlong.
Surely director Miyazaki's masterwork, this Oscar-winning animated film is beautifully rendered and uniquely designed. The curious story unfolds in a manner not always wholly engaging, and whilst rather long, the impressive visuals see the film through.
This is a beautiful movie, with a lovely warm storyline about growing up and being scared when changes happen in your life. From start to finish the animation is extremely colourful and breathtaking (as it always is in Studio Ghibli productions), the plot is amazing and the characters unforgettable; although some are slightly surreal!
Join Chihiro as she is moving away to a new home; sad that she is leaving her old life and friends behind. As her parents stop to explore near her new house, they find what they think appears to be a derelict amusement park. Getting further away from the car, and getting hungry, her mum and dad start tucking into food being laid out at one of the stands, where they eat too much and turn to pigs! Running around and panicking she bumps into Haku, a young boy, who befriends her and helps her try to get her parents turned back to humans. As the night draws in, strange people start appearing and she soon finds out that she is stuck in a resting place for the spirit world and must work for a witch, Zeniba, who holds the key into her getting back to her normal life.
The film is full of bright colourful characters including talking frogs, witches, river gods, radish spirits, dragons and many more, so no boring characters here! It reminds me a bit of Alice in Wonderland, with unusual characters, that makes a change from the many plain and predictable characters in so many modern day animations now. With mythology and witches this is a great example of an enjoyable fairy tale. and The friendship and bonds created between the characters make a heartfelt movie that is attractive to a family audience and also make it an easy film to watch - straightforward, simple movies are sometimes the best and great to watch at the end of a bad day.
Fishing for expressions fit to describe Spirited Away, it's difficult not to bring up somewhat clichéd expositions; one can salute the visionary director or the inventive storyline, or gush about the beautiful animation and haunting scenery. Yet these descriptions are as accurate as they are well-worn. Hayao Miyazaki's 2001 release, winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar, is one of the more recent, and certainly most celebrated films to emerge from the Studio Ghibli animation powerhouse.
Although Spirited Away is full of enchanting imagination and original twists on traditional stories, the tale at the heart of the film is a classic one, explored many times on film and page. Chihiro is a stubborn, somewhat self-centred young girl on the cusp of significant change in her life; in the midst of moving house and about to start at a new school, she is pre-occupied by understandable concerns. The story of Spirited Away cuts into this plot arc and causes our protagonist to grow up quickly and re-consider how she sees her place in the world, and her relationships with those around her.
From the Pevensie girls of Narnia through to Lyra in His Dark Materials, via countless other examples along the way, this coming of age-through adversity storyline is a familiar storytelling angle. Yet although this provides a solid base for the story, it is to Miyazaki's considerable credit that he is able to conjure something of such bewitching, intoxicating quality from the raw ingredients.
Chihiro's journey in Spirited Away begins partway through another, more expected migration. En route to their new home, her father becomes lost driving through a forest. Passing through a tunnel, Chihiro and her parents come across an abandoned town, within which they also discover stalls laden with fresh food and drink. Ignoring their daughter's protestations, the adults dig into the neglected feast greedily, leaving Chihiro to wander the empty streets alone. As the sun slips away, the town's inhabitants begin to appear; spirits who frequent the shops and taverns and arrive by steamer across the river. Frightened, Chihiro runs back to her parents, only to find them transformed, great pigs sitting in their places, faces still buried in the food before them.
Trapped in this spirit-world beyond her own, Chihiro appears to have only one ally; an older boy named Haku, who seems to recognise her, although she has never knowingly met him. He tells her that her only hope of escaping the town and recovering her parents is to approach the owner of the Bath House that attracts the spirits to the place and beg her for employment, for it is her magic that binds this side of the looking-glass.
I earlier referred to the "intoxicating" power of this film; and Spirited Away is indeed a delight on the senses in so many ways. Visually, it is a stunning creation, combining wonderfully imagined and realised characters with astounding environments that delight on both big and small scales. Sweeping vistas, striking, imposing structures and a host of intricately-rendered finer touches work together to provide a fitting backdrop to the story - and are given extra vitality by an equally memorable soundtrack. The musical accompaniment is spot-on throughout, laying a contemplative, ethereal feeling to the content of the animation, rising intermittently to meet the demands of the plot.
Characterisation is wonderful, with Miyazaki giving us a wealth of figures who have more than just the one aspect to their personalities. The film largely resists the temptation to polarise characters as either good or bad, and show both sides in just about all characters - it takes us much of the film to figure out the genuine nature of some of the most memorable, and ambiguous individuals. Chihiro encounters all manner of friends, foes and plain miscellaneous entities during her experiences in the spirit world, and through her dealing with these characters matures and grows as a person.
She learns a hardiness from her work in the Bath House, but also develops a more compassionate, accepting side to her nature, which is shown in her dealings with one of the most enduring characters of the film, a spirit named No-Face (or Noh-Face). This spirit is hard to figure out, and most of those who reside in Chihiro's new world make no effort to do so. A non-speaking entity, No-Face demonstrates both a tender, eager-to-please side when his approaches are mirrored by Chihiro's compassionate, considerate efforts, but also displays a destructive, monstrous side when he rampages furious through the Baths. The way in which Miyazaki manages to create such an affecting, engaging character without having him utter a word is a fine illustration of the way in which Spirited Away is often able to tell its story through visuals alone, communicating in several ways at the same time, constructing a multi-layered, almost edible narrative, so rich and full is it.
There's also a nice, refreshing twist in the way in which the director resists the temptation to draw too great a cleavage between the spirit and "real" worlds - there are many ways in which the two overlap, and there are enough ambiguities within the plot to stop the viewer too easily writing it off as a childish dream sequence or pure flight of fantasy. Miyazaki presents the world into which Chihiro stumbles as one which is separate from ours, but is never so far removed as to have no effect on our own, and is often hiding away just beyond easy sight. This may well be a reflection of the extent to which Japanese folklore is interwoven with everyday culture, and is a pleasant change of angle compared to the tendencies of some western filmmakers to present fantasy worlds as being as distinct as possible from their parallel.
Spirited Away, then, is a wonderfully rich film, full of engaging characters and memorable scenes that are likely to appeal across the age range. As a first venture into Japanese animation, this is a fine introduction, or for those already familiar with the genre and Studio Ghibli, this is essential viewing. Spirited Away leaves behind a trace that is distinctly hard to forget.
I was left with a very funny feeling after watching spirited away. It was a mixture of confusion, delight, and then a sheer jealousy of all the people who got to experience the movie as a kid.
Chihiro and her parents are moving to a new town, but get lost on the way. Finding themselves at the end of a long tunnel in a mysterious valley some miles from where they should be, the decidie to investigate. Chihiros sees something is wrong, but her parents are easily lured into what appears to be an abandoned amusement park, but things begin to go very wrong when they begin to gorge themsevles on strange but delicious food that has been left for them.
Her parerents seeming to have dissapearedand been replaced with foul gorging pigs, Chihiro quickly flees for the car, but finds she is trapped by a river that has just appeared, and is being crossed by a number of very peculiar beings.
On finding herself in a bath house to the spirits, she must take a job and hand over her name to the evil and greedy witch Yubaba, and buy enough time to find her parents and get home. Chihiro must come to terms with hard work, growing up and certainly she must learn bravery, trust and friendship. Suddenly she realises there are some things that are much scarier than moving to a new school!
It's hard to sum up in that few words. This movie is two hours long but it is definatly necessary as its one of the best films you'll ever watch, anime or otherwise. With the usual themes of a Japanese film, its an encouraging story of bravery, fear, friendship and certainly overcoming the odds. Chihiro seems an unlikely heroin as she is very childish peccimistic and lazy to begin with, but matures into a caring and indepentant character by the end, and defianly learns her lessons well, so it's good on a moral lesson to, as good behaviour is rewarded.
Spirited Away will probably freak most kids out at some points, certainly No Face the demon or even Yubaba herself, but there are also a lot of lovely original characters who are all a bit unusual but are what make this story so unique. It's probably best to watch it as a family first certianly, but all the colour and magic of this film will ensure it becomes a firm favourite.
Its no surprise that this movie won so many awards. Wonderful classical animation, gorgeous music and above all a marvelous story that you'll want to watch again and again, no matter what your age.
This film is dubbed in English as a default but you can watch in subtitles if you're a real hardcore anime fan, but it might be better left dubbed for kids...after a few minutes of watching you'll be so entranced you wont care!
This DVD also has some additional features including a behind the scenes look at the movie as well as original sketches and story boards.
The story revolves around Chiro, a young girl who is moving house with her parents. After they take a detour the family find themselves in, what appears to be, a deserted theme park and feeling hungry Chiros Mother and Father tuck into the food which has been left out. However, this unwitting turns them into pigs and Chiro goes on an amazing adventure in the spirit world to try and save them. I won't tell you any more as I don't want to spoil it, but take my word for it, its good.
Spirited Away has an extraordinary range of strange characters which are not only beautifully and creatively animated but each has a distinctive individual personality.
I have watched this DVD several times now and still never get bored. The amazing attention to detail in the animation means with each watch I notice something new and charming. The music is beautiful and compliments the movie really well,
This was the film which introduced me to the wonderful world of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghilbi and after watching it I was hooked and followed on to watch all his other films, and if this is your first Ghilbi film I expect you'll do the same. There is something charming and honest about all these movies that, unlike many Disney films (which seem a bit OTT and predictable), can be enjoyed by both young and old.
At Almost 2 hours long get the pop corn in and enjoy a wonderful trip to the fantastical Japanese spirit world, you'll not be disappointed.
Spirited Away is a fantasy adventure film created by Studio Ghibli, an extremely popular animation studio, mainly focusing on Anime.
Also it was the first ever anime film to win an Oscar, which was for the best animated film.
Spirited away was an instant hit and hailed positively from film critics worldwide.
The films main character is a little girl caled Chihiro, moving to a new town, new school and having make new friends.
On the journey to the new house, her parents take a detour, leading the three of them to an old abandoned theme park, where the story starts to unfold.
Chihiro soon becomes stuck in the land of the spirits which is overulled by an evil sorceress.
Being seperated from her parents, she must find her way back to the real world, encountering many strange beings and having to peform dangerous but critical tasks.
Luckily the spirit Haku helps her along the way along the epic and exciting journey to free herself aswell as her family from the evil grasp of the wich Yubaba.
Spirited Away's music was composed by Joe Hisaishi, a popular choice within mainstream Anime studios.
The music in the film is of some of the best I have ever listened to, the on screen action paired with the amazing orchestral pieces create such powerful emotion when needed in each scene.
Spirited Away has truely amazing animation, boasting fantastic artwork and creativity, showing that Studio Ghibli really is one of the pioneers of animation studios today.
A definite personal favourite.