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Spirited Away
Spirited Away
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genres: Indie & Art House, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
UR     2003     2hr 5min

From one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animated cinema comes the most acclaimed film of 2002. Hayao Miyazaki's latest triumph, filled with astonishing animation and epic adventure, is a dazzling maste...  more »


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Movie Details

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genres: Indie & Art House, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Kids & Family, Fantasy, Animation, Anime & Manga, Animation
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Animated,Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/15/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 2hr 5min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 66
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, French, Japanese, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English
See Also:

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 11/10/2012...
I love this movie. It's filled with so many exotic and unique characters.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Blake M. from MEMPHIS, TN
Reviewed on 10/3/2009...
This film is not some sort of kid flick (though kids enjoy it), nor is it some corny, sick-sweet Japanimation. This is a fine film that uses beautiful animation to tell a story about a girl who fights for the lives of her parents, while meeting several impossible characters along the way.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Whitney D. from BROOKLYN, NY
Reviewed on 8/30/2009...
This movie will surprise you with its originality and spontaneity. There's adventure at every turn. I wasn't expecting it, myself, but this has turned out to be one of my favorite movies of all time. It's absolutely delightful. You must see it!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Rani L. (Mina) from WASHINGTON, DC
Reviewed on 12/29/2008...
One of THE BEST animated films ever. A masterpiece of Miyazaki, perhaps his best film. The animation is amazing, great score, and impressive English dubbing. So imaginative and memorable. I don't get tired of watching this movie.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Tips For Non-Japanese Speaking Fans: This Is a Masterpiece
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 09/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Released on July 20th, in 2001 in Japan, "Spirited Away" stayed in theaters for almost 10 months, breaking all the previous box-office records in Japan, including that of "Titanic" and "Princess Mononoke" by the same director Hayao Miyazaki. With this astonishing film about a girl's spiritual journey, Mr. Miyazaki again showed that he is one of the best directors living in the world. This animation film was also awarded prestageous Golden Bear Prize in Berlin Film Festival, and that is not a surprise at all, after you see this movie.

The film's story traces a girl's strange and fascinating life in another world, where her parents are accidentally and magically transformed, and she has to survice herself and return to her own world. To do so, this pudgy-faced little girl Chihiro, now deprived of her name by a greedy witch Yu-baba, has to work at the baths where gods and sprites all over Japan come to take a rest. Chihiro's life is full of wonderful (and often hard, even terrifying) things, and through her experiences she learns how to live, gaining the true will and power, changing from a sulky girl languidly lying on the backseat of a car, into a lively and truely courageous girl.

That's all you have to know: you don't need to see its trailer (English version trailer is a bit misleading), and just watch this masterpiece. Though there is a character called "Kao-nashi" (meaning "Faceless"), who out of loneliness does something harmful to the place; and there is an episode about a very stinking monster who turns out something very different, there are no villains, no heroes, and no so-called actions. And another strength of the film comes from its designs of the baths. It is based on a mosaic of Japanese and Western traditions (the witch's office looks obviously Western while Chihiro and other female workers room is inspired from the texitle factory girls' residence 100 years ago) Incredibly, some part are even from Chinese style.

The story, some say probably rightly, goes slower in the latter half (of the film that runs more than 2 hours), but "Spirited Away" never lets you down. It's time for any American audience to know Miyazaki's name, and that animation films are not meant for only kids, but for adults.

[The following might hopefully help understand some part of the film. No spoilers contained, but you might read them after watching them. Al the names referred to are from Japanese original print.]

[1] The name "Chihiro" is, when written in Chinese letters, divided into two parts: "Chi-hiro." The first part "Chi" has another way of pronounciation, "Sen," which becomes her temporary name.
[2] Chihiro's real name is "Chihiro Ogino" which is briefly seen on the contract paper she signs.
[3] The handsome boy who offers a help to Chihio is called "Haku" which means in Japanese, "white."
[4] Haku's real name is "Migihayami Kohakusui." All the Japanese audience, as Chihiro in fact was, would be surprised to hear this long and old-fashioned name, which clearly suggests his ancient and aristocratic origin. (CORRECTION added on 1/1/2007) I came upon recently Sonomi's review pointing out the mistake I made here; Haku's name is really "Nigihayami Kohakunushi." I apologize for the mistake.
[5] The witch's spoiled baby is called "Bou" (and his name is written prominently in a Chinese letter on his clothes). This is shrewd naming because the word "bou-ya" (which is used to call, affectinately, to baby boys) implies too much fondness to the babies on mother's side.
[6] Chihiro's father, at the diapidated red gate, talks knowingly about the posibility of a disused theme park. It is true that Japan saw economic depression after the boom of the 80s, and his remarks, though half telling of his too much confidence, have some ring of truth.
[7] For Miyazaki's fans, there are some extra fun: see, for example, the re-appearance of "Susuwatari"s, tiny black speck-like creatures that carry coal in a boiler room. As fans know, they are also seen in Miyazaki's delightful film "My Neighbor Totoro." And check out one of the "guests" at the spa who looks and moves exactly like Totoro.
[8] And those harmless "Susuwatri"s eat Japanese traditional, very sweet confectionary called "Konpeitou" made from sugar. This is the part Japanese viewers smile because of the unexpected combination.
[9] In the same boiler room, the spider-like veteran master gives Chihiro "Kaisuu-ken," coupon-style tickets for train. This is also the part we would smile because we all somehow share the same experience of giving them to children who go somewhere by train or bus, or of finding very old ones somewhere in the desk.
[10] That same kind master, seeing Chihiro step on the crawling worm, makes a gesture of a knife with his hand, and touches Chihiro's hands in a unique way. This is a (now out-of-fashion) custom when touching something very dirty, symbolizing the total safety from the object in case, often accompanied with Japanese word "Engacho" (no more connection). This part is also funny to us.
[11] In the opening scene. behind the back of Chihiro, you can see the glimpse of half-hidden, red-colored package of chocolate bar, which looks like one famous brand. Probably, this is a small token of thanks for the company (famous for coffee, too), which joined in the tie-in campagin for the film's promotion in Japan.
[12] Finally, director Miyazaki says that the film is originally made for unnamed 10-year-old girls he and the movieproducer are both acquainted with, and hope that those girls are delighted to see the film. No doubt they are."
An outstanding breath of fresh air
Jason Rabin | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 03/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Spirited Away is yet another masterpiece from Japan's undisputed master of animation. Although I did not enjoy it as much as Princess Mononoke, I was more entertained by this film than by any Disney movie made in the past five years. Speaking of Disney, I thought I would clear up a few misconceptions that some people have concerning this film. Firstly, for those people who complain that Miyazaki's films (as well as other anime) are for adults, and not children, I should point out that Miyazaki has explicitly stated that Spirited was made for young girls. (in other words, Chihiro's age) This doesn't mean that the film can only be enjoyed by pre-pubescant girls (I myself am a 22 year old male); it just means that you should not go into this film expecting something geared towards adults, the way Mononoke was.
Now I have noticed several people on this site comparing Spirited to Disney. Everyone seems to agree that it is nothing like Disney, because it is scary. Some parents even go so far to say that Spirited is inappropriate for children. Let me just say that you are all both right and wrong on this issue. Spirited Away is nothing like Disney as it is NOW. However, if you look at classics like Snow White, and especially Pinocchio, you'll see that these films have much more in common with Spirited Away than with, say, Hercules, or Tarzan. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who claims that Spirited is too scary for children ought to remember what Disney used to be like. In Snow White, the wicked Queen ordered the huntsman to cut out Snow White's heart. Even more telling, in Pinocchio, the main character ends up on an island for wicked children, who are mercilessly transformed into beasts and sold into slavery. Can you honestly say that this is somehow more wholesome or less nightmarish than what goes on in Spirited? Anyone who remembers these films recognizes that Spirited Away's often nightmarish sense of morality and justice (parents being turned into pigs for their greed) is not novel to the American imagination, but something old, something many of us have clearly forgotten, even though we saw these very films as children! This harkens back to a time when Americans had a much clearer sense of morality, a much greater willingness to recognize an absolute line between right and wrong. For me, this is refreshing, for you it may not be. As for your children being scared, I agree it is a possibility. I was scared when I saw Snow White and Pinocchio, yet I enjoyed those two films immensely. Moreover, they are both considered to be undisputed classics of American animation. So to all those parents who think they can comfortably dismiss Spirited Away as some alien abomination, you had better look closer to home, because it may not be quite as alien as you thought."
The only word is "Wow"
Christopher Fung | honolulu | 11/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've seen this movie twice and I don't usually do that kind of thing (the last time I did that was for "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and in fact, there are some interesting similarities between the two movies). So here's the capsule: A truly excellent piece of art. Funny, moving, beautifully-rendered and thus PERHAPS a little more than slightly scary for younger kids. I think you have to use your judgment for this one, but if your kids can watch Buffy or the death of Bambi's mother, they'll be able to handle this for sure.Miyazaki has been described as the greatest (or one of the greatest) anime directors ever and this stunningly well-textured movie is definitely his best visual work yet. In fact the only thing about this movie that was at all disappointing was the sickly music at the end over the credits but even this is part of the cultural experience of modern Asian pop culture so it has relevance even if it makes you leap for the exit as if you were pursued by a vomiting monster.I disagree with those reviewers who thought the characters were one-dimensional. While it is true that the plot was very linear, there were a bunch of more subtle things in the movie that suggested some interesting character development. This was (I think) more evident in the subtitled version than the dubbed version: Chihiro/Sen goes from being a fairly spoilt and clingy child to a self-reliant and confident figure (a point underlined needlessly by voice-over dialog in the final scene of the dubbed version). Haku is not the defiant, noble dragon for the whole movie and in fact only really comes into his own after Chihiro feeds him the River Spirit's medicine. Before this point he is caught between his own kind impulses (In the Japanese version, Zeniba tells Chihiro "Dragons are always kind, it's in their nature") and his (originally), willing collaboration with Yubaba. Even Yubaba herself is not totally evil, although she is totally mercenary ("A deal's a deal").This last point, I think, is one of Miyazaki's major ideas in the movie. I did not come to this realization until I had been thinking about the character of No Face for two weeks. I was wondering why a disembodied spirit go from being a gentle, generous ghost to a ravening, gluttonous monstrosity. And I think the answer lies in Miyazaki's gentle but pointed rejection of modern, possessive, materialist life (it's not "Western" life he's criticizing. "Materialism" is no more Western than "Spirituality" is Asian, every region of the world has these things. It's just a question of degree and detail).Chihiro tells us "It's not good for him [No Face] to be in the bathhouse". After she feeds him some of the River Spirit's medicine, No Face returns (somewhat graphically) to his former self but clearly the environment of the bath house with its overwhelming spirit of greed and indulgence (served, but never made concrete by Yubaba) is what lies at the core of Miyazaki's critique of modern society. Think about the way Yubaba's empire is set up: Everyone must work for a living. The work is endless and while satisfying and rewarding in the short term, clearly in the long term it is soul-destroying -not in a dramatic Hollywood-style shoot-out but by slow, routine and deathly poison. Even Kamaji has a train ticket stashed away for his eventual escape. Perhaps its not too far-fetched to suggest that Chihiro's travels through the spirit world and the spirits' desire to escape Yubaba's world of toil are both manifestations of the human spirit's desire for escape from the tyranny of the mundane and the material. Ultimately, perhaps everyone in the bathhouse (with the exception of Yubaba) helps Chihiro because she represents the flight to freedom.The incident with the Stink God illustrates the same critique with respect to the environment. Industrial humanity has reduced the beauty and power of a river to a noxious, gasping mass of garbage and industrial pollutants. The visuals in this sequence are just stunning.Miyazaki's exteriors of the spirit world by contrast, (except for the ghostly theme-park town which was wonderfully charming and creepy at the same time) are almost all pastoral, evocative and hauntingly beautiful. My favorite however was the train journey which allowed Miyazaki to display his talent for capturing the essence of water with subtle reflections and whispers of sound, while also revealing an ineffable (and very Japanese) sadness in the spirits traveling on the train.This is also a land where no-one is what they seem to be. No matter how beautiful the surfaces. People become pigs (revealing the gross nature of humanity perhaps), ghosts become monsters, Zeniba is both malicious and motherly, Haku is a dragon and a boy. Remember too that the most overtly violent scenes (at least as far as bloodshed is concerned) in the movie involve birds made of paper!Nope, I don't think this was a simple-minded movie at all. Go see it. You will not be disappointed if you have even half a soul. It's the kind of thing that will stay with you for a very long time and that you'll find yourself going to see again years later. Probably more than once."