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DVD Review - Spirited Away - A film by Hayao Miyazaki

Author: Stuart Campbell
Monday, July 14, 2003
I was fortunate to catch Spirited Away at the opening of the JapAnime festival last year. I remember sitting there thinking Miyazaki… Miyazaki, that guy rings a bell. Then the film began and the amazing imagery started flooding in, I remember thinking I know that style, "Oh man this is gonna be the bomb!" Miyazaki was the director of the timeless Princess Mononoke (another amazing anime).

With my expectations already set high the story unfolded like this: Our main protagonist Chihiro, her mother and father are travelling to their new home. As a result of a wrong turn, they find themselves at what appears to be the ruins of an abandoned amusement park. There are some eerie vibes going down and Chihiro is reluctant to follow her parents into this forbidding place.

Her parents wander in oblivious and stumble across an unattended restaurant offering a delicious buffet. They are overwhelmed and begin to dig in. Chihiro, still reluctant, holds back and continue on her own exploration of the park. As the day turns to dusk a series of mysterious transformations occur and Chihiro discovers that the 'real world' has been swept away, her parents have been captured and she is now trapped in a mysterious vacation spot for the spirit world.

The story then follows Chihiro's adaptation to the spirit world and her quest to rescue her parents and return to the real world.

The mystical world is home to many memorable characters, both lifelike and completely bizarre like 'No-Face' the big black conservative blobby looking character who just happens to have an enormous set of razor sharp teeth hiding within his guts - pretty deceiving, very sneaky. Watch out for that guy.

The multi-layering of computer design with traditional cell-shaded artistry, combined with fluid and life-like animation, the film quickly establishes itself as an outstanding production. Ultimately deserving its award for the best animated feature film at the 2003 Academy Awards.

I gotta agree. The film deserves 5 stars.

Spirited Away
Madman Entertainment
Rated PG
English Adaptation