Spirited Away (DVD, 2003, 2-Disc Set) Reviews

Spirited Away (DVD, 2003, 2-Disc Set)

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Spirted Away: A Top Ten

Mar 14, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Animation, story, vibrancy,

Cons:None

The Bottom Line: An Alice in Wonderland set in a land that is both familiar and strange, Spirited Away is one for the ages.


My Top Ten are a combination of my favorite movies, and the movies that I think are the most technically brilliant. These are truly the ten movies that people I like cannot dislike without losing a large amount of my respect.

Spirited Away was for a time, the top grossing film in Japanese history, dethroning Titanic. While it didn't make very much money over here, I did manage to see it in theaters with my dad, and it won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture in only the second year of the awards existence, along with a myriad of other awards.

Chihiro is an ordinary 10 year old girl. Sullen, whiny and apathetic towards almost everything around her. She's moping in the backseat while her parents are driving them to their new home when her father decides to take a "shortcut" that gets them lost, and stumbling onto the remains of what appears to be an abandoned theme park. Her parents gorge themselves on a sumptuous feast that's sitting in one of the storefronts, with no one seeming around. Chihiro continues to wander when she runs into a mysterious boy who tells her to run and get her and her parents back across the river before nightfall. When Chihiro returns she finds that her parents gluttony have turned them into pigs, and when she tries to cross what was a dribbling creek, she discovers is now a raging river. Seems at night, this area is a hotspot for spirits. With the help of Haku, the mysterious boy from earlier and Kamaji the gruff boiler man, Chihiro gets a job as the bathhouse in the center of town, run by the witch Yubaba, the only way to keep the woman from turning her into a pig as well. Chihiro must reach inside herself to find strength she never knew she had, in order to save herself and her family.

While I have enjoyed pretty much every Miyazaki movie I have seen (possible exception of Porco Ross), Spirited Away is truly his masterpiece. The animation is nothing short of spectacular, rich colors and lush details. It looks beautiful on DVD, but seeing it in theaters was a real treat, especially considering that Disney didn't promote it at all in its original release, and only a little bit on the short rerelease after it won the Oscar.

This is world rich and vibrant, neither a wonderland or a nightmare. Full of imagery and symbols from Japanese mythology that is sure to alienate some strictly american only types, that make it deeper. The characters are odd and wonderful, between Haku who never seems to be what he seems to be, to the human seeming (except for her fondness for smoked lizards), the spider like boiler man, Yubaba's much nicer twin sister Zeniba, and the spirit in the mask known as No Face, there is no where else where you could find characters such as these.

A common quibble about the movie is the English dubbing. My only problem with the dub track is Daveigh Chase can get a bit squeaky/shrieky.....but so can most ten year olds, and even though her Japanese vocalist is perfect, I like Jason Marsden's Haku better then his Japanese counterpart.

Many of Miyazaki's movies have an environmentalist bent to them, but Spirited Away never simplifies itself to moralizing. What could have been an empty story about the evils of the modern world and the how much better it would be if all returned to traditional ways, is instead a quiet fable about the balance between the two, wrapped around the coming of age of a modern young girl in an unfamiliar world.


Recommend this product? Yes


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