Sunday, October 6, 2002

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)

Genre: Fantasy
General Audience
Credits: 2001 Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli


Manga and Illustration Books
Spirited Away DVDs
Original Soundtrack
Everything Spirited Away
Skysenshi's Description:
10-year old Chihiro was about to move to the suburbs with her family when her dad took a wrong turn that led them to a mysterious forest. Venturing into a tunnel at the end of the unfamiliar road, the family discovers an abandoned amusement park. Inside, the smell of a magnificent banquet lures Chihiro's parents, making them forget themselves as they proceed to partake of a feast that isn't theirs. Chihiro, feeling alone wanders off on her own and discovers a world that only exists in her wildest imaginations.

As fascinating as Alice in Wonderland>>> by skysenshi (10.05.2002)


That was the first word that came out of my mouth as soon as the DVD Player began exhibiting the beauty of the anime's artwork - the abundant greenery, the exquisite details in the walls, the vibrant hydrangeas and every other wild flower you can think of... Everything looked crisp and clear; the only flaw in which is the usual trademark looks of Hayao Miyazaki's characters. But even that couldn't really be counted as a flaw, because ordinary-looking lead characters have always worked to Miyazaki's advantage. They are the type that regular viewers can easily relate to. Intertwine them carefully with Miyazaki's penchant for colorful storytelling and you'd have another winner in your hands.

You are carried off to a new world, the center of which is a huge bathhouse that caters to gods and other heavenly beings. It is something new and cute and wild and disturbing. It pitches you to a roller coaster of people and events that seem reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. It introduces you to many metaphors and philosophies, but it doesn't drown you with false profundity and ennui.

The plot is very simple, yet very direct. It does not wax poetic or lyrical, but makes use of symbolism that are amusing in their strangeness, all the while teaching valuable things that both children and parents can learn from: life and being able to savor the things around you, instead of taking them for granted. This fantasy/adventure portrays humans as "stench", which probably pertains to our habit of letting ourselves be engulfed by our surroundings, by technology, by what is standing right in front of us.what are the things that have affected our way of thinking? Chihiro's "rescue" of the River God, another symbolic occurrence, sends a jolt in that direction.

Amidst all these, Chihiro finds an old face - one that is called Hope - even as she struggles through the difficult routines and makes new friends. She meets the hardworking Kamaji, the sympathetic Rin, the queen of the bathhouse Yubaba, and the one that would bring her love, Haku. On this train of thought, I would like to again commend Miyazaki. He is the only one who can make pre-adolescent love not seem so trivial or uninteresting or worse.overly dramatic. He did the same for Mimi Wo Sumaseba (Whispers of the Heart), which brings me to the conclusion that his idea of romance is something pure and innocent.

If you are a Hayao Miyazaki fan, you must definitely add this title to you collection. If not, you must give this a try so you could see that not all anime run on a formula. Fantasy? Adventure? Love? Fairy Tale? Neither words nor sentences can illustrate how brilliant this piece is. But, truth be told, "Spirited Away" is actually the best phrase that describes the experience.

Individual Rating: Art: 9; Story & Plot: 10; Characters: 10; Sounds: 9

Another Miyazaki classic. >>> by Kyubi Kitsune (11.23.2002)
Just like what the previous review said, Spirited Away is a deceptively simple treat from one of Japan's best animators.

Spirited Away's overall storyline is simple, but is layered with Miyazaki's own brand of social critiques and ecological sensibilities which adds a significant depth to it. The story is well written and effortlessly switches back and forth from serious to witty scenes. Characters are all well presented and developed throughout the course of the film. The previous review pretty much reflects my sentiments toward the story.

Animation measures up to the usual high quality of a Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli production. As well for this one, Ghibli also got help from such heavyweight as GAINAX and Mad House for the animation. When seen in the theater Spirited Away's animation is simply amazing and breathtaking. About the only problem I had with the animation was with some of the character designs done in Miyazaki's distinctive style. Even though she is just a kid, Chihiro's toothpick-like legs were mildly disturbing. Otherwise the designs were well done as Miyazaki can draw anything from the grotesque to the cute and to the ordinary with a sense of charm.

Music is just like everything else in the film. While the ending song will probably never make it on my favorite's list, the piano driven orchestral background music does a wonderful job capturing the ambience of the scenes.

Disney, as much as I despise them, did a very good job with the English dubbing. Unfortunately I'll have to wait for the Region 1 DVD to be released before I can compare that to the original Japanese language track. About the only problem with the dub is that when Chihiro yells, it can get a little bit grating.

If you have an opportunity to see Spirited Away in the theater, it is kind of tough since Disney is doing a poor job promoting the film, don't pass it up because it is one of the best films out there.

Individual Rating: Art: 10; Story & Plot: 9; Characters: 10; Sounds: 10

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