it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit, and what better way to celebrate the true reason for the season, than watching anime movies? From now until Christmas, I’ll be taking a look at 6 or 7 movies from one of my favorite animation studios, Studio Ghibli. Today, I’m watching Spirited Away, a movie a lot people are probably familiar with. Originally named “The Mysterious Disappearance of Sen and Chihiro”, Spirited Away was released in 2001 and became one of the most successful films in Japanese history, grossing $274 million worldwide. Passing Titanic as the highest grossing movie of all time. The english dubbed version was done by Pixar Animation Studios in preparation for its American theater release and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003.
Spirited Away follows the story of Chihiro, a young adolescent girl, picked up as she’s arriving to a new town after moving away from her childhood friends. Chihiro’s slight insecurities make way for real disaster when her parents suddenly turn into pigs after helping themselves to food at a nightstand in an abandoned theme park they’ve stumbled upon. To return her parents to normal, Chihiro befriends Haku, a dragon learning magic from an evil witch, Yubaba, who runs the bath house that she allows Chihiro to work in, granted she changed her name to Sen. While working in the bath house and meeting all sorts of people and monsters along the way, Chihiro learns the responsibilities to growing up and also that she doesn’t have to face life’s challenges alone.
Sprited Away also contains a plethora of subtle themes and cultural critiques. From the coming of age of Chihiro to the struggle of Japanese society losing touch with its traditions. Chihiro even spends time in an abandoned theme park, a reference to the break of the bubble economy of the late 20th century. But one doesn’t have to know the deep intermingling themes or references to enjoy Spirited Away.
The animation is top notch, as expected of Studio Ghibli, and the english dubs (I’ve seen both original Japanese and English versions) for this movie are one of the few I’ve actually been very pleased with, the transition was done very well. And all around great movie for kids and adults alike, also a great movie if you want introduce someone to anime films. HIghly recommended to anyone look for a family-friendly movie to enjoy with friends of any age.
Until next time,