I’m so excited this morning, as it’s time to release my second Weekend Flick, Spirited Away! 😀
A little FYI: For now, while I get used to this posting schedule, I’ll mostly be starting this series off with the Studio Ghibli films; these movies are very special to me, so posts won’t take too much effort to pull together! Yay! (This new post series will also give me the extra motivation to finally watch “When Marnie Was There”, “Only Yesterday”, and “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” too!)
Since it’s the general public’s favorite Studio Ghibli film (but I’d love to know if it’s actually not yours, because it isn’t mine XD) I thought Spirited Away might as well be a good pick for first Ghibli film to discuss…especialy since I have a slightly unpopular opinion about it.
Adventure | Fantasy | Magic
2001 | 124 minutes | PG
Chihiro and her parents get sidetracked while on the drive to their new home, her parents exploring what appears to be an abandoned theme park. Chihiro is soon trapped in the nighttime world of a spirits’ bathhouse, separated from her parents. Aided by a mysterious magic-using boy and the people who work the bathhouse’s water system, Chihiro gets herself a job working for the witch Yubaba to survive. She soon experiences very strange happenings and being within the spirit world as she tries to find a way to free her parents.
I got to admit that I didn’t love this movie on first sight. I was just beginning to enjoy anime when I watched this, and the level of strange was off the charts for me at that point (Me now, a year’s worth of anime later: “….HAHAHAHAHA!”) I would still say it’s a bit weird, but compared to some anime, it’s just strangely mystical. After several rewatches, I can admit that I have grown to enjoy it and even really like it. It just took some getting used to. My eight year old brother really enjoys it as well.
Spirited Away is a great feat in the animation universe. Since the story is bizarre and focused on the spirit world, the animation has the job of rendering the spirits and bathhouse and atmosphere into reality–and it does a great job at doing so! Although some of the characters are a little ugly to look at, the world the animation sets up is fascinating and hard to look away from.
Spirited Away also manages to communicate emotion that gives the adventure some gravity, which is what helped me care a bit more about the characters each time I rewatched it. I do have a problem with the poorly presented back story of Haku: I wish I had been shown, instead of told, if you catch my drift. Besides that issue, most of the characters are decent and enjoyable to follow. While Chihiro first came off as a cry baby to me, I think she managed the best she could in her circumstances. I have only seen the English dub for this film, but the English voices give the crazy film some stability. XD
I can’t say that I have a favorite character, but my favorite part of the film is when the ‘stink spirit’ comes to the bath house and everyone freaks out. That part of the film had some well-executed suspense and intrigue.
Overall, Spirited Away is a great anime film but I would not call it Studio Ghibli’s best film. Not by a long shot. Yes, it’s good, but I didn’t think it was amazing (viola, my unpopular opinion.) It might not be for everyone either: Anime beginners who do not like strange things might want to steer clear of this one until after they’ve watched Arrietty, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Ponyo.
If you’re already a big anime fan and still haven’t seen this one…well, what are you waiting for?! This is a classic, for pete’s sake! Go watch it already! 😛
Star Value: 4/5 | Rewatchability: High | Definition: Yep, this is your classic anime fantasy!