Spirited Away (2001)

spirited away poster 2001 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great visuals, strong story, good voice actors

Nonsense style of plot will not work for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Spirited Away

Studio:  Tokuma Shoten/Studio Ghibli/Nippon Television Network

Genre(s):  Animated/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family

Release Date(s):  July 20, 2001 (Japan)/September 20, 2002 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

spirited away parents pigs chihiro food

Doesn’t anyone know you aren’t supposed to eat fairy food?

Chihiro Ogino is forced to leave her home and friends when his father takes a new job in a different city.  A stop at a strange tunnel leads Chihiro and her family into another dimension.  Chihiro’s parents fall prey to the temptation of the fairy world, and now it is up to Chihiro to discover a way rescue them.  Taking a job at a strange bathhouse, Chihiro finds herself tending to the strange guests.  The bathhouse is ruled by the mysterious Yubaba who has an assistant named Haku who might be the key to saving Chihiro’s and her parents…but Haku has a mystery himself.

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away (or 千と千尋の神隠し or Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi aka Sen and Chihio’s Spirited Away) is an animated fantasy adventure.  Following Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke in 1997,  the film was heralded by critics and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.  The movie often is listed as “must see” movies for younger children and knocked Titanic out as Japan’s top box-office film of all time.  In the United States, the film was released by Walt Disney and had the vocal talents of Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, Michael Chiklis, Lauren Holly, John Ratzenberger, Rodger Bumpass, and David Ogden Stiers.

spirited away chihiro sen no face monster poison

Nope…nothing terrifying about this at all

Spirited Away is a great movie.  The look and style of the film really are a culmination of Miyazaki’s art and borrow from his other work to bring out his style.  It is combined with a great story which feels like a strange combination of classic fairy tales.

Spirited Away feels a lot like Alice in Wonderland.  I always found Wonderland scary, but a good scary.  Much like Alice, Chihiro is kind of bratty at the beginning of the film…but she still is a kid.  Unlike Alice, Chihiro feels changed by the end of the story.  The adventures and the characters all feel like straight out of Alice in Wonderland like Yubaba and her child Boh which are reminiscent of the Duchess and her baby.  The whole story plays like the nonsense genre inspired by Lewis Carroll’s work combined with aesthetics of Japanese folklore.

Children like to be scared a bit and this movie is scary in a kids’ world. Nothing bad happens in the film, but the idea of wanting to get rid of parents but being scared when it happens is a common theme.  The creatures and enemies in the movie pose real threats to Chihiro, but the movie also has a nice reassuring feel to it that keeps a kid from being too freaked out by the story…it might just be a bit hard for them to follow on occasion.

spirited away haku dragon chihiro

Maybe I should wait to tell you about the whole river thing after we get to the ground…

As mention, the art for the film is fantastic.  The characters have so much life and little details like Chihiro tapping the toes of her shoes when she puts them on to push her foot forward show great detail.  The colors and style of the movie really are anime at its best.  The dustballs also show a great resemblance to the spirits in My Neighbor Totoro. and have also shown up in other Miyazaki works.

I like Spirited Away a lot…it is a fun movie and one of those rare movies I purchased before I even saw it. The reason is that I loved Princess Mononoke so much and loved Miyazaki’s art.  I did not however love Spirited Away as much as Princess Mononoke, but it is a different style of film for a different audience.  It can be enjoyed by all, but a younger audience will probably enjoy it more than adults.  Miyazaki followed Spirited Away with Howl’s Moving Castle in 2004.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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