Crimson Tear

Spirited Away
Anime Movie Review



By: Tyler Olson


A Truly Magical Masterpiece

Warning: this review does contain a few vague spoilers.


Spirited Away is the 2001 award-winning anime movie by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.

Spirited Away starts off simple enough with a family moving to a new town in the middle of nowhere and their child already hating her new school. All that quickly turns into something darker. Within just a few minutes the world twists into one full of ghosts, beasts, witches, talking frogs, giant walking radishes, and food that turns people into pigs. Yeah, it becomes all kinds of strange.

After watching it once, I decided that I needed to experience both the subtitled original and the English dubbed version. The differences between them are minor, but those slight choices in interpreting the meaning of the Japanese dialogue can drastically change the meaning of some events. The English version also has a few extra lines to help explain what the characters are seeing for those unfamiliar with Japanese culture. Are the changes enough to say that one is better than the other? I feel the original Japanese version is better, but for those who dislike subtitles, the English version will still be an amazing experience. Regardless of the version you watch, the characters and the story are still the same.

Chihiro Ogino of Spirited Away
Creepiness and all!

So what is this movie really about? Well, that depends on your interpretation of what the events and characters mean to you. You see, this is a highly symbolic movie which will resonate differently depending on your age, beliefs and experiences. Some may look at this movie as a tale of growing up, others may think it's about us destroying our environment, maybe it's about friendship and love, a tale of child-labour, possibly prostitution due to the names and actions of several characters, or it could just be a story of a child stuck in the realm of monsters and spirits... And those are just the ones I noticed, there are probably many more. It's very likely that each person will take something different away from the movie, which makes it feel even more brilliant.

Yubaba and Haku in Spirited Away
And there's nothing like a fire-breathing witch to give children nightmares.

The vast amount of characters in Spirited Away is breath taking. There is just so many brilliant and unique characters that remembering who's who should be a chore, yet they all look and act so differently that each of them are easily recognizable. Also, they all have literal Japanese names (each name is their job or role) which makes remembering them even easier.

Of course, this movie wouldn't feel like a Miyazaki masterpiece if it wasn't for the attention to detail he pours into his hand-drawn animation. Whereas most animated movies and series strictly focus on the characters in the foreground, everything in this is fulled detailed and animated to give this movie an intense feeling of life right to every corner of our window into this world.

Magical Soot in Spirited Away
Even the soot gets screen-time! Apparently they love candy crystals, who knew?

But is Spirited Away the best of Studio Ghibli? With so many fantastic films, many of which I haven't seen yet, I can't say, but it certainly is well worth the watch! There is so much to love about this movie, and it feels like you can catch some other hidden message, or fantastic missed event each time that it's viewed again making it feel special each and every time. I know this movie has been out for a while already, but if you haven't experienced the wonder of this movie yet, I would highly recommend that you fix it with an immediate viewing!

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