Series: Spirited Away (aka Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)
Animation Studio: Studio Ghibli
Original Run: 1 movie
English Licensor: Walt Disney Pictures
Adaptation of: N/A
Summary: If the word "genius" could be transformed into an anime movie, it would probably come out to be a Miyazaki film. "Spirited Away" if one of the films directed by this god-like Japanese animated film director and one that definitely deserves some praise. The story follows young girl, Chihiro, as she grows from a whiny, selfish, and lazy girl to a mature, thoughtful, and hardworking young woman. The story begins as she and her family are moving to a new town and Chihiro couldn't be more pessimistic about it. As her parents and her drive up the house, they get a bit lost and end up at the mouth of an old tunnel with a strange statue in front of it. Her parents decide to explore what is on the other side, despite Chihiro's objections. She ends up trailing after them and they find a huge meadow. Beyond that, there is a small town with nothing but food shops and an old bath house. But the strange thing is, there doesn't appear to be any one running the shops.
Chihiro's parents decide to have lunch, and start taking things off a food counter and pigging out. Chihiro stubbornly disapproves and wants to go back but they ignore her pleas. So as her mother and father eat like hogs, she decides to check the rest of the place out and comes across the large ornate bathhouse. As the sun begins to go down, a mysterious boy appears before her and orders her to go back to where she came from. She listens to him and goes back to her parents only to find two huge pigs. Confused and scared Chihiro makes her way back to the meadow only to find a huge lake in its place. From here, the story begins.
Chihiro is stuck in the spirit realm and has no one to depend on. But as the story goes on she gains new friends. She later figures out that that mysterious boy's name is Haku, and tries to figure out why she seems to know him from somewhere. Chihiro gets work at the spirits' bath house, at the cost of loosing her name and becoming, "Sen". Chihiro almost looses herself, but luckily Haku reminds her that her name is Chihiro. He goes on to say that, that is how the witch, Yubaba, is able to control people that work at her bath house. Haku informs her that he can't even remember his own name, but for some reason he can remember Chihiro's. Chihiro then, goes through brutal tasks that require physical and mental work. But never looses sight of her goal to get her parents returned to normal and to go home.
The story is filled with wonder, and brilliant art direction. Chihiro's growth also can be seen throughout the film and it has a little bit of everything for the whole family. "Spirited Away" is a masterpiece and if you haven't seen it yet, go rent it from someone!
A.I.'s Rating: 10/10
A.I.'s Review: For this post I decided to do a Miyazaki film, considering that his films are legendary. "Spirited Away" is an Oscar winning film, so that should get some mention right? Out of all of Miyazaki's I'd have to say this one is my favorite. Don't get me wrong, "My Neighbor Totoro" is a classic, but "Spirited Away" is the one I enjoyed the most. I would have posted a complete story summary like I did with "Summer Wars" but this film has way to much detail and story that I'd have to split the post in two. The film's art gets and automatic 10 since the animation and attention to the little details (like how Chihiro puts on her shoes) is amazing. The story gets a 10 due to the fact that it is original and it teaches a lesson of character (hint: don't be lazy, don't be pessimistic, etc.). The music was composed by Joe Hisashi, who did the score for all of Miyazaki's films. And is is hands down gorgeous (that means a 10 for score). Characters also get a 10 as even the side characters are strong but they don't over dominate the main cast.
If I had to say what my favorite aspect of this film was, excluding the art and story, I'd say it was Chihiro and Haku's relationship. I found it cute to how protective Haku was of Chihiro, and the saying of "guardian angel" comes to mind (well in this case its more like "guardian spirit"). Yes, in a way, they do fall in love, but it's only a small detail and isn't the main point of the story. Like all the other Miyazaki films, the main focus of "Spirited Away" is the female character and their development. And like all his other films, the development was well paced and visible. A spoiler for the film is, Chihiro does return home with her parents, but I will say that the ending of this film is bitter-sweet. All in all, it's a wonderful film and I highly recommend it. If you aren't interested in the story, at least watch it for the art and the music.