Spirited Away (2002) [Review]

105 min September 20, 2002 | | | |

Plot: Chihiro (Chase) and her parents take a wrong turn and decide to explore. When her parents are suddenly turned into pigs, Chihiro runs, and finds herself trapped in a spirit world. Now, she must try to change her parents back, and escape…before she forgets her name and is trapped forever. Animated.


Before Spirited Away started getting all it’s press, I’d never heard of Hayao Miyazaki. I had heard (as it turned out) about one of his other films, Kiki’s Delivery Service, which I hadn’t gotten around to checking out yet.

Spirited Away first caught my attention after receiving an Academy Award® for Best Animated Film. Combine that with being the highest grossing Japanese film EVER (plus a really intriguing trailer), and I knew I’d have to check this one out.

The voices were all chosen very well, and they all did a great job with the voice-overs. Considering the film was first done in Japanese, it’s amazing to watch it in English. They definitely did a great job syncing the voices, and creating the correct wording. Plus, while some of the voices sound vaguely familiar (such as Lauren Holly as Lin), they are different enough, and the movie so engrossing, the viewer isn’t distracted from the film by the voices, which is as it should be.

The plot was amazing, especially considering this is supposed to be a kids’ film. Spirited Away has everything, from thrills to laughs, and it all ties in together terrifically. The characters are all instant favorites, from the little coal soots to the flying dragon, to the comic relief from the little hamster and mosquito. You’ll definitely want to watch this again and again, and there is no way it’ll get old. There’s so much happening in the background of each scene, you’ll always catch something new.

The animation is spectacular. No wonder Disney wanted to bring these to the US. Who knows? Maybe it’ll give Disney a goal to strive for (yes, it’s that good). The computer animation is blended in almost seamlessly, and there are no “cheap and quick” scenes as so often show up at least once in a Disney film. It’s truly a new high point in animation.

So, the one question I seem to ask in every Japanese animated film movie review: Is this better then Akira? Actually, in this case, I can’t ask that question. The story lines are both incredibly involved, and the animation is spectacular in both (with a bit of an edge going to Spirited Away), but apart from that, they can’t be compared.

Akira, as with most Japanese animation films I’ve reviewed, focuses on the end of the world, a coming of the Apocalypse, if you will. They are aimed at an older audience, and definitely not for kids. This film, however, follows more with the Disney tradition, and is a great experience for entire families, from kids right up to grandparents.

Rent Spirited Away today. You won’t regret it. In fact, you’ll be sure to want to check out Castle in the Sky and Kiki’s Delivery Service (two more of Miyazaki’s films) as much as I do now.

And I’m sure Spirited Away will show up on your must own DVDs, as it now appears on mine.

What did you think of this film?
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DVD Features

  • Widescreen
  • Animated Menus
  • Scene Access
  • Introduction by John Lasseter
  • Art Featurette


An ex-Floridian, ex-Baltimorian now living in Arizona, Reid wants to get into a career that involves web-design, but for now enjoys working on critiQal in his spare time.

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