Sunday, October 28, 2018

REVIEW: Spirited Away (anime movie)

Spirited Away is a fantasy movie. I saw it at my local movie theater as part of Studio Ghibli Fest 2018.

Chihiro is a 10-year-old girl who's unhappy about moving to a new home and going to a new school. When her dad takes what he thinks might be a shortcut to their new home and ends up coming across an abandoned theme park, all she wants to do is leave that creepy place. But since her parents don't seem inclined to listen, she follows them in.

Unfortunately, the "theme park" actually turns out to be connected to the world of the spirits. Chihiro tries to leave, only to discover that her parents have been turned into pigs due to having eaten food intended for spirits. With a little help from a mysterious boy named Haku, Chihiro gets a job at Yubaba's bathhouse in order to stay safe until she can figure out a way to save her parents and go back to her own world.

This is one of my top favorite Studio Ghibli movies I've seen, in large part due to my love of the setting. The bathhouse is amazing, and one of the things I liked about Chihiro's job there was that viewers got to learn a little about how it works.

I also loved the designs for the various magical beings and spirits. Haku in his dragon form was one of my favorites, but the various customers of the bathhouse were great as well. The one particularly stinky customer was very well done - I could practically feel how oozy, gross, and greasy it would have been, and watching Chihiro slog through the mud around the tub made my skin crawl.

Chihiro and her parents were a little annoying in the beginning, and I suppose the overall storyline could feel a little scattered to first-time viewers. Chihiro's primary goal, at the start of the movie, was to save her parents and get back to her own world, but as the story progressed, she ended up acquiring a bunch of new friends and went on a little journey to help one of them, with no idea how she'd manage to get back and no assurance at her parents would even still be alive by that point. It worked out in the end, and since I had seen the movie a bunch of times I already knew that. Still, I couldn't help but think that Chihiro took a huge risk near the end of the movie and didn't even seem to realize it.

All in all, I really enjoyed this rewatch. Although I suppose there are more tightly plotted Studio Ghibli movies, I still consider this to be my favorite.


The short film shown prior to Spirited Away was "Mr. Night Takes a Day Off." It wasn't the best of the short films Studio Ghibli Fest 2018 has included so far, but it certainly wasn't worst (it would take a lot to beat the worst). I liked the bit at the end with the guy and his car.

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