Spirited Away

Alt titles: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi

Reviews

mariprosa's avatar By on Jan 18, 2008

Story

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.


Animation

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.


Sound

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.


Characters

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.


Overall

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.

8.5/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
thor123's avatar By on Mar 2, 2015

The story of Spirited Away was as good as I'd expected from a movie that get's ratings this high. The premise isn't all that original (it's not the first time someone just randomly ends up in a strange world), but the execution was done wonderfully. You really stay interested in the story and want to know what's going to happen next. There's also some added suspense at just the right moments to keep things going.

Animation: nothing new can be said here, I guess. Apparently the movie is 14 years old already, but even in much more recent anime there's rarely any animation this good: detailed, smooth, just pretty,...

Sound: music was good and supported the feelings you should get at each given moment, voice acting was good too.

Characters: this is where the most imagination is used, to create an interesting world. Because it's only a 2 hour movie and not some 26-episode series, they can't really elaborate on every character there is, but the main characters have a well-established personality and are all interesting people. 

Also, a very big plus: the characters actually act like you would expect actual people to act. They aren't extremely stupid or hyperintelligent or whatever, they're just normal.

General: I regret not having watched this earlier. If you doubt if you should watch this, I can only say: just do it!

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
10/10 overall
Scruff's avatar By on Nov 30, 2010

This is consistently one of the top rated anime movies so i had to watch it, but i have to say that i don't 100% agree.  I mean i will say that it was a very unique idea and story, and it was interesting and entertaining, but i wouldn't think that it makes top 20 all time (or top 10 according to Anime News Network).

I think that the reason it scores so high is because its like a nice story about a girl not really coming of age, but becoming more sure of herself and going through an experience that teaches her the value of friends, love and like getting through tough situations or something.  I mean its a realatively quick watch (2 hours ish) and it was a good break from the shows that i had been watching.

8/10 story
8.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
angelsreviews's avatar By on May 18, 2014

This show is very beautiful in both its art style and its story. I love Miyazaki’s work and this was one of the very first I watched. The storyline feels as though it is a tale of growing up, facing your fears and learning how to take care of yourself. We start out with a girl sheltered by her parents slightly who doesn’t want to move. She’s grumpy, thinking that no one cares about her own feelings about the move and has some fears about going to a new place. Because of her father’s stupidity (in a sense), they end up at an old abandoned gate in the middle of nowhere and go on in. Turns out this place is a gateway to the spiritual world and the family is swept away into a rather enchanting world where only Chihiro will remember. She is separated from her parents, forced to work in a bathhouse and learn what her own strength is.

In one of the reviewer’s videos that I watch sometimes, JesuOtaku brought up the idea of the value of ones name. It is shown in many anime like xxxHOLiC and most importantly here. Chihiro’s name is pretty much taken from her and she tries hard to remember it as the story goes on. There is a belief that your name is what makes you and weather you believe it or not, it’s a belief I have. My real name is different then my name online and if anyone knew me in the real world, I am a little different then I am online. It is the thought that people do not know who exactly you are and as Chihiro seems to find out, she is a different person as

Sen. She is a bathhouse attendant as Sen instead of the child Chihiro. When she becomes Chihiro again, she never really stops being Sen, showing the strength that she gained from her other side. It’s a little heard to understand but I believe that we all have different personalities, though it depends on who we are around. When we are with friends, we are much different then when we are with family. When we are with older people like grandparent age, we are different then when we are with children. If you look at it this way, Sen was someone already within Chihiro. It just needed different people to show that it was there.

The artwork is astounding and you can really feel the love and attention that was given to this show. Even the detail of Chihiro putting her shoe on is done down to the small taps to make sure it’s on well enough. When people say how beautiful this movie is, they don’t exaggerate. I actually couldn’t find any problems with it in consistencies or loops. It is what it is and its nothing more or less then what you would expect in a well made film. The character designs feel like they are out of a Japanese picture of demons but scaled back slightly for the children as none of the monsters have blood dripping from their fangs or wanting to kill anyone.

The voices are wonderful except for Chihiro, she just sounds a bit too whiny even when she grows up a little. She yells a lot and it pretty much throws me off when she is supposed to be gentler and thought full. I actually love how Haku sounds pretty young and gentle instead of harsh. Again, all the voices are the dubbed version since I have not seen the sub but they were still exceptional.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
10/10 overall
SadisticTendencies's avatar By on Nov 9, 2011

*The only Anime I've seen that I'd give a 10 out of 10*

Spirited Away; not only one of the titles associated with anime in general, but also the very movie that introduced me to the splendid medium of Japanese animation. If said statement doesn't make me seem highly biased, then allow me to proclaim that this review most certainly is. I think it's natural to reserve a certain amount of one's affection for movies and books one associates with particularly pleasant memories and experiences. With this in consideration, I do acknowledge the vague possibility that Spirited Away's position as my favourite anime of all time is due to the fact that it was the first I ever saw. I had nothing to compare it to at all, and despite its minimal similarities to Alice in Wonderland I praised it as both original and engaging, two compliments that I still choose to use whenever I ramble on about it to my friends. But enough of my drabble, let's commence this biased excuse for a review!

Story: 9/10

His most famous movie may lack the environmental undertones of Princess Mononoke and the profoundly sincere charm of My Neighbor Totoro, but Hayao Miyazaki successfully managed to portray what he initially aimed for; how the departure from adolescence to adulthood is a tough transition filled with responsibilities and expectations. Cynical as it may be, this message is heavily incorporated into ten year old Chihiro, a prime example of a time-honored Ghibli heroine, as well as the protagonist in the movie who initiates a journey towards self improvement. This progress is decorated with a handful of fascinating characters, as well as the infinite virtue ofMiyazaki's ability to craft excellent plots.

The beginning plays out like a heavily altered version of Alice in Wonderland where a young girl suddenly finds herself wandering straight into a mysterious and occasionally frightening world. Where the two stories differ heavily though is when the plot in Spirited Away suddenly starts to make sense, and when Chihiro encounters several characters who aren't mentally deranged. Furthermore, Hayao Miyazaki has enough tricks up his sleeve in the form of twists and unexpected events to allow his narrative to ascend into further heights of creativity that definitely compares to Lewis Carroll. All in all, Spirited Away may borrow a few elements from other stories but it remains original and intriguing throughout, and it's a movie that at least I can enjoy over and over again.

Animation: 9/10

Many people would probably argue that the animation in Spirited Away is great, though nothing special that deserves to be praised and remembered. Be that as it may, I still find the visual direction to be absolutely splendid, a fact that my fetish for the typical "Ghibli style" contributes heavily to.Miyazaki's usual emphasis on the importance of traditional animation shines through brightly but is combined with the subtle and withdrawn use of computers to create a symbiosis where technology improves the artwork without taking control of it completely. This is highly beneficial when it comes to establishing a visually innovative and charming approach that still carries the classical feeling many anime fans grew up with.

Among great backgrounds, fluid movement and a cleverly structured world, the aspect of the visual section that left the biggest impression on me was the character designs. Despite a few characters having dangerously few facial features, Chihiro herself looks absolutely terrific whenever her face contorts due to sudden emotion, and the main antagonist of the story is masterfully designed to hover between the border of frightening and restrained. All in all, I have no mayor complaints about the animation found in Spirited Away.

Sound: 10/10

Joe Hisaishi must be the wet dream of any director, within or outside of the medium of animation, and in Spirited Away he proves once and for all why it should be. The soundtrack uses a large variety of instruments and possesses the knowledge and power to realize what kind of melody and tone it needs to work perfectly in tact with the movie. Melodrama goes hand in hand with piano use or the violin, just like moments of a more quicker pace benefit from the enhancement of brass instruments. The melody 'One Summers Day' is not only one of the few anime tracks I know the name of, but it's also a piece of musical flare that I listen to regularly when I feel melancholic.

Based on several re-watches, I don't think the performance of Rumi Hiiragi (Chihiro) is something that deserves particular recognition. It's far from bad but equally far from the splendour I personally associate with movies of such high production values. Overall, though, the acting is terrific with the antagonist Yubaba stealing the show together with her far more benevolent twin sister.

Characters: 10/10

Fundamentally speaking, character development is what comprises the very core of Spirited Away, as it decides to dedicate it's run time to the journey and growth of a young individual. But diversity is the key to success in characterization whether it be in an Anime or a novel, and so there are several other characters that enter the stage along Chihiro's path to either assist her, restrain her or just accompany the background with a lavish presence.

Another thing Ghibli has a tendency of featuring is the lack of unrestrained evil. In the Disney universe, antagonists rarely boast any positive characteristics, and the ultimate goal for the far more virtuous heroes are to rid themselves of their evil by slaying them, and then life happily ever after with their beautiful princesses. In those cases, the evil is extreme, grisly and unredeemable. In the Ghibli universe however, even the antagonists are capable of feeling compassion, whether or not that compassion is restricted to close relatives or not. The evil witch Yubaba may thrive and benefit heavily from exploiting the services of her servants, but she displays a heavy amount of affection for her abnormally sized baby. Traits like those are what truly makes Spirited Away a charming piece of entertainment; there may be characters who exploit the weak and live in luxury without considering the well-being of their employees, but in the end the mysterious world they inhabit isn't plagued by terror and suffering but hard work and a modest, yet absolutely sufficient lifestyle. That carries an appealing charm in its own realm of prestige.

Overall: 10/10

If you didn't catch me the last time, Spirited Away is a movie that I watch regularly. Because of its almost harrowing ability to use music for emotional effect, as well as a dedication to thoroughly develop its relatable characters with splendour, it deserves all the praise it has received. I find it ironic that a person like me who usually goes for more eccentric stuff ended up considering one of the most generic titles to be his favourite, but that's the magic of Ghibli. Masterpieces gone mainstream!

9/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall