Spirited Away is truly a trip into the imagination with excellent animation, a whimsical execution, and a storyline that leaves one not only liking the characters and progression of events, but also with warm emotions with the overall atmosphere.
The movie introduces a young girl named Chihiro as a sullen 11-year old who comes into town with her parents for the first time, as they're moving into a new neighborhood. When the three come across a strange tunnel, they pass into what seems like a carnival...and her parents end up becoming caught in the strange place with a curse. As a result, Chihiro must find a way to turn her parents back to normal and leave the captivity of the carnival...but not without meeting her share of witches, spirits, dragons and many other creatures to boot.
Chihiro follows Haku, a boy who orients her around this strange world, but with an identity that the movie comes to unfold in its overall progression; I believed that Chihiro and Haku's chemistry made the movie quite sweet, even endearing.
One could say that this film focuses primarily upon very abstract presentation to entertain in its overall story, from the creatures to the environment of this seemingly unstable carnival-revealing places like a machinized factory, a bath house, a dojo, a farm house, among others. Like Miyazaki's other films, it reaches into a broadened sense of imagination, appealing to an audience both young as well as mature. I wouldn't say this film is for the very young (as the odd looking creatures and events may be scary for young children, but those of maturity, even around the age that Chihiro is in the film, would be able to appreciate it. The movie also, in its progressive length, follows Chihiro with a keen eye, and yet allows the focal point to shift well in the many odd twists and turns she encounters, and you actually come to really care and connect with the characters despite the film's abbreviation.
The animation retains a rather classic style similar to other Miyazaki films such as Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, or even Nausicaa Valley of the Wind. Spirited Away, however, does well with its coloring and fluidity to make it fit right along with contemporary animation standards, just with a different style of character design and settings, the latter of which i found quite impressive in meshing together this abstract atmosphere.
One thing to keep in mind, the character designs are quite intentional, if the witch, for example, looks downright ugly, then that's a part of the emphasized environment - the character and overall designs were very consistent, and I couldn't complain in most regards.
From a musical perspective, only the settings of the BGM were really standout to me, very relaxing when the more serene and heartfelt scenes came into play, and more upbeat when the comical or intense rush of events emerged. I wouldn't say I was all too fond of the ending theme song, though it was quite nice from a lyrical standpoint.
Voice acting in both the Japanese and English perspectives were top-notch. The Japanese version had strong leads in Miyu Irino and Rumi Hiragi, as well as strong leads in the English version (Jason Marsden and Daveigh Chase) for Haku and Chihiro respectively. I think the strong voice acting really enhanced the prescence of each character, and granted that Miyazaki's stories are very character driven, it shows no lapse in quality along that regard.
The characters in Spirited Away are easy to follow and adapt to, even at the expense of brevity in which a film may allot. Miyazaki's format of storytelling allows the characters to come center stage and the journey in which they follow and come into their encounters are something the viewer can enjoy as "along for the ride". I actually think that character-wise, Spirited Away is one of Miyazaki's finest in allowing us to look into Chihiro-she's at first a rather aloof girl, overly cautious, as shown when she tries to tell her parents to go back, and also in terms of her encountering this world of variant beings with timidness. Yet, as she comes to know her surroundings, follows Haku and befriends quite a few interesting faces (including a spider-armed man who claims her as his granddaughter at first and a woman who helps her along in working for her keep), she develops an inner sense of strength that one sees even towards the film's conclusion. It feels like a coming-of-age story in an abstract format.
Secondary characters are quite as enjoyable as those that take full stage as the primary, in fact, they are what enhance the atmosphere of the overall film and it's difficult to separate them from the story as their numerous encounters revolve around the story's framework.
I would definitely recommend Spirited Away as a title to view. It's one of the most imaginative anime films I've seen to date and also one of my favorites overall.
Why is this the fan favorite?! Dont get me wrong. I like Spirited away, but I consider it one of the weakest from Miyakazi and Ghibli.
Ill just say, if you only watch this, because this is the most mainstream of the similar movies, dont forget, that the others are different. I consider Castle in the sky, Totoro, Kiki, Porco Rosso, Arrietty far superior compared to this.
I only wrote this so others can see that the fan favorite is not always the best. If you dont like this, dont turn away from Ghibli completely, try out the others too.
I love this movie! Gorgeous animation, great imaginative story and characters, and an emotionally rewarding adventure are just some highlights throughout the two hour runtime. I was never bored, I was never feeling unsatisfied, and I couldn't look away. Bravo....
Story: a little girl embarks on a brilliant adventure after coming across an abandoned theme park now serving as a bathhouse for spirits. It comes complete with dragons, monsters and an evil witch, but it is unlike any other film I've seen.
Animation: as I said, it is gorgeous. The characters and scenery were a joy to watch and the animation heightens everything. It gives Disney a run for its money.
Sound: the music is breathtaking. The score, and the ending theme were beautiful. The voice actors were all also very good. I watched the dub and it was really very good.
Characters: Our protagonist is wonderful. You fall in love with her along with every other character in this film good or evil. They are all interesting and three dimensional...even the soot sprites lol.
Overall, I just adored it. I recommend it to any Studio Ghibli fan, and any fan of the fantasy genre in general. Great watch.
9/10. Watched Dubbed
This is the movie that introduced me to the world of Miyazaki, and pretty much all anime. That's reason enough, I think, to call it my favourite anime movie, but I shall go into more detail in this review.
The story is weird, imaginative and absolutely amazing. It starts off as the simple story of a little girl moving to a new neighbourhood, but things turn quite complex as her and her parents stumble upon a spirit world. The parents, after eating at the spirit's buffet, inconveniently turn into pigs and the little girl now has to work at a bath house in the hope of returning home safely. I've probably seen Spirited Away about five times and I still don't quite understand everything, but that part of what keeps me in awe whenever I watch it. And every time I do, I notice something new. It's strange, but wonderful, to see such depth and complexity in what is marketed as a family film.
The animation is also top-notch. The character and spirit designs are incredible and something only the most imaginative could think up. It varies from cute, to engaging to quite frightening.
I've only seen the english dub and, despite what seems to be the general consensus, I quite like it. Sure, Chihiro's voice grates occasionally, but the dubbing team does deserve respect for keeping the integrity of the story. Though I repeat, I have only seen the dub so I can't really compare with the Japanese version. I must say, the use of sound in the river spirit scene is brilliant.
One of the many many things that is so wonderful about this movie is that there is no clear cut good and evil. Chihiro is, obviously, good- having purely good children protagonists is a charming reccurring theme in Miyazaki's films. But the film's main antagonists Yubaba and No-Face aren't exactly evil. You really have to see the movie to understand
I highly recommend Spirited Away, it is a must-see for anyone even thinking about considering getting into anime.
Oh my goodness, Spirited away, The anime which introduced me to anime and to this day all these years later I am still in dear love with this anime, It is hard to put this movie into words for me since I remember being only a young kid watching this so much just because of th entire art style, beautiful story and amazing characters, I love everything about this anime and still to this day can watch it without worry, Studio Chibli being one of my favorite anime companys knowning them making this is outstanding, but the only way I feel to tell you what I think about this anime is for you to take the time to go and watch it yourself I do not want to ruin your feeling of your first time, but all that is to be said is that is one of the best anime ever out there for me.