Spirited Away (2001) voices Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Jason Marsden, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers directed by Hayao Miyazaki Movie Review

Spirited Away (2001)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Spirited Away (2001)

Takes Me With It

As a 10 year old Chihiro has little say in her life; she had little say when her parents decided they should move to a small town in the Japanese countryside and she had little say when her dad took a wrong turn down a one way lane which leads to a tunnel which they insist on exploring. Once they get through the tunnel they find themselves in what looks like an abandoned theme park where the smell of food leads her parents to an abandoned restaurant but one with freshly cooked food. As Chihiro tentively continues to explore she meets a boy called Haku who warns Chihiro that she and her parents are in danger but it is too late as her gluttonous parents have already been changed in to pigs. It is then with the aid of Haku that Chihiro discovers the park is the home to spirits and demons who are ruled by the evil witch Yubabu who makes trespassers her slaves. Now Chihiro must gain favour with Yubabu to try and rescue her parents.

I have mentioned before that there was a time when I just didn't do animations having grown tired of the conveyor belt animations which were coming out, filled with similar characters and voiced by similar actors. At the same time I wasn't a huge fan of fantasy adventure movies either where you have a person, strangely often a girl, in a quirky other world on a quest to resolve something. So if someone had given me "Spirited Away" to watch the chances are I would have kindly refused. But times have changed and whilst I am a little picky over what animations I will watch I am more than happy to watch "Spirited Away" again and again.

Spirited Away (2001)

In a way "Spirited Away" is not that original, think back to "The Wizard of Oz" and Chihiro is a Dorothy except the various things she encounters on her quest through this strange land is a witch with an over sized head, heads with no bodies, frog face people, ghosts and ghouls and all manner of things. But it is that familiar fantasy adventure although an entertaining one which keeps you watching and Miyazaki's skill as a storyteller through look, dialogue and characters is second to none.

It is the same when it comes to the anime as from the looks of the humans, the quirkiness of the non worldly characters ad the beautiful backdrops is stunning. Yes some audiences will prefer the computer animations of Dreamworks and Pixar but you get to really appreciate the skill of the artists when you watch a Studio Ghibli animation. Something as simple as what feels like you are running though high bushes covered in flowers is absolutely stunning.

What this all boils down to is that "Spirited Away" is right up there with the best of Miyazaki which to be honest considering how good all his animated movies are seems a pointless thing to say. But from his ability to tell a story to the beauty of his animations it is first rate and the perfect introductory movie for anyone who hasn't watched a Miyazaki/ Studio Ghibli movie before.