It almost feels unnecessary for me to review this movie. Everybody knows about it. Everybody who knows what theyre talking about knows its a masterpiece. Is there really anything else I can add to the discussion surrounding this movie? No but I still wanna talk about it anyway because I love this movie actually have yet to review a Studio Ghibli movie. But first a little history. I originally watched Spirited Away for the first time back in 2018 a few months after I had just gotten into anime proper knew who Hayao Miyazaki was. More importantly though I knew the reputation this movie had going into. I watched it.. I liked it. Ill be honest I wasnt overly impressed with it or saw why it garnered its reputation but I enjoyed the film overall. Though I did watch it the same day I watched Akira for the first time which at the time I thought was a completely incomprehensible piece of shit. That stance has changed since then but the point is I wouldve thought anything was good coming off Akira the exact same day I watched it. Going forward in life I just kinda moved on didnt think about Spirted Away too much. But in 2019 as I realized I was running out of Studio Ghibli movies to watch as in I was close to seeing all of them. I went on a sort of Ghibli binge started to not only watch the ones I missed but even rewatched some of my favorites/ones I wanted to get a new opinion on thus brings us back to Spirted Away. I rewatched it.. I fucking loved it. Whatever prevented me from really seeing Spirited Away as a masterpiece back then no longer applied I was enthralled with movie for a week I couldnt take my mind off of it. I know this introduction was rather lengthy but I honestly felt this was necessary because I wanted to apply some groundwork as to why this is now my second favorite at times my favorite Miyazaki movie of all time. Spoilers inbound btw I think what I love most about Spirited Away is the narrative but more so the narrative structure. I love coming of age stories Spirited Away is one of the best in my honest opinion. Chihiro does start out as an unlikable brat but what do you expect? Shes only 10 has to move away to a different town from all her friends then gets thrusted into this fantasy world that she knows nothing about on top on top of that is filled with all these weird fantasy creatures that nobody knows about. But throughout the movie we get to see Chihiro adapt to this environment. We see her overcome these impossible odds. We get to see her grow up. Its simplicity executed to perfection what makes this story even better is the storyboarding. If theres one thing Hayao Miyazaki is a master at its crafting/mapping settings. I wont bore you with excessive details like how Chihrio exactly got from outside the bath house to Yubabas room. But I feel like if Yubabas bath house was a real place that I could visit I would know the layout exactly wouldnt have to consult anybody thanks to Miyazakis storyboarding. The world just builds together flows so fluently that I was never lost I knew exactly where I was at all times. But even better is the pacing. This movie is just right it knows exactly how long it needs to stay somewhere it knows exactly when to transition into the next scene it knows how to keep me engaged never question how much longer I have left in the movie. This movie is 2 hours long but I was never bored because of how excently paced the movie was. What else needs to be addressed is the world building. I more or less alluded to it when talking about the storyboarding but can we take a moment to appreciate how meticulously crafted this world is? From the pig farms the market where Chihiros parents turn into pigs the aforementioned bathhouse Yubabas office her babys room. The train station that takes Chirio No Face to Zenibas hut in the swamp. I remember everything about this world precisely because of the excellent worldbuilding. Miyazaki knows just how long he needs to keep us in these environments as to make them memorable. Hell even the small town that Chirhios family is moving to at the beginning of the movie I can tell you about how the family even ends up in the Spirit world in the first place. I wont pad with the details of course this review is already pretty lengthy as it is Im 2 pages in Im still talking about the story/world for fucks sake. I dont know if Ive said peace with this segment yet or not but Spirited Away is a very dense layered world with a lot of meat to chew on for that I think its super commendable deserves respect. Phew now that Im done with that mouthful I guess I should talk about the characters which are also excellent. Honestly none of them outside of Chihiro Haku really get development. But they dont need to as most of them serve a purpose in helping Chirhio find her way in this world keep her identity as so she doesnt get trapped cant go back to her world. All of them are not only characterized extremely well but theyre also memorable and have easily identifiable character traits. Out of all the characters in this movie my two favorites are Rin Zeniba. I like them the most because theyre guiding figures for Chihrio in this strange world. Rin is the tough love but caring type is like a sister figure for Chihiro. It kinda saddens me how Rin has long since lost her identity is destined to forever stay in the spirit world working for Yubaba but I also like to think of that as Rins motivation for even helping Chihiro in the first place she knows Chihiro really doesnt belong in the spirit world wants to do whatever she can to help her keep afloat in this strange world make it back to her world safely. Zenida is Yubabas nicer sister that ends up helping Chihiro by revealing one of Yubabas secrets that will help Chihiro get back to her world. Shes a sweet loving granny figure even preferring that Chihiro call her such. Shes honestly such a sweet old woman I almost think it would be worth going through what Chihiro went though in this movie just so I could go to her swamp have a conversation with her. But I cant forget Haku the guy who even helps Chihiro realize what kind of situation shes in to begin with. Hes heroic loyal to his friends caring but hes also not afraid to stand up to authority going against Yubaba directly at several points in the movie. Its actually revealed near the end of the movie that Haku is the spirit of the Kohaku river a river that Chirio almost drowned in as a child. Its hinted throughout the movie that Chihiro Haku have a stronger connection than it originally seems when this is revealed it hits hard. Even the minor characters in this movie such as Kamajii the human spider whos the heart of the bathhouse as he operates the mechanisms this bathhouse needs to even run in the first place. The three heads of Yubaba who have a really funny scene in the movie where their disguise getting revealed by Yubaba results in them hopping out the room making hup hup hup sounds. The way this scene is directed the way they exit the room inparticular with the same expression they had on their faces earlier just makes me laugh everytime I think about it. Id of course be remiss if I didnt talk about Yubaba. Yubaba isnt exactly my favorite Ghibli villain I dont think shes as layered as Kushana from the Nausicaa movie. Or in a somewhat unique position for an antagonist like Fujimoto from Ponyo as in hes not really a bad guy more so an overprotective father who tries his best. But I do think she is written well isnt just a blank face evil villain. Shes not a nice person but I at least understand her motivations where shes coming from. The reason she has to operate her bathhouse on such a constant schedule is because spirts often come to be cleansed of their wrongdoings or what haveyou so that they can then pass on leave the spirt world in peace. Her bathhouse prevents Chaos from spreading destroying the world essentially. Shes also a mother who tries her best to provide for her son too. Shes not exactly the most morally correct person but shes not supposed to be. Shes supposed to be Chihiros greatest obstacle on he journey of both self discovery at 10 and finding her way back home. I think Ive covered about as much as I can with this segment. The characters in Spirited Away are excellent. Easily my favorite cast out of any Studio Ghibli just because of how memorable all of them are. I honestly really dont know how Im gonna talk about the art animation because I mean what is there to really say? Its Studio Ghibli. We all know their animation is the best in the business we all know the background art is extremely detailed we all know the character designs have that charm with them we all know about this stuff. I dont think you really need me to repeat what others have said as if I havent been doing that throughout this review. But alright if you want me to explain why Spirited Aways art and animation is phenomenal just watch either one clip of the movie or look at an image on google. Those two things will say more about this aspect than I ever could. I will however talk about the voice acting which is excellent. Chihiro despite being a brat at the beginning of a movie has a somewhat softspoken demeanor to start off I really like that. The rest of the cast all bring their A game there isnt one dull performance to be found throughout this movie. Even no faces moans just leave off this feeling that I cant really describe but its there goddamnit. The music is ofcourse spectacular. Shocker I know but its so good. Joe Hisaishi doesnt miss with his orchestration his pianos anything really. This man is so damn good at what he does the music matches the atmosphere of this music so perfectly I couldnt imagine anybody else doing it. To end it off. Spirited Away I think I can safely call my favorite Miyazaki/Ghibli movie. I just get so much out of it. I havent watched it since 2019 but as you can tell from this review I still think about it so much. Its a movie about self discovery about life about growing up. To quote Miyazaki I would like to make a film to tell children its good to be alive. Spirited Away is a movie that means a lot to me should not be dismissed. It needs to be watched by everyone. This isnt just a good kids movie its a good fucking movie no matter who you are it does in fact hold up. I dont know how Im supposed to end this exactly. But Miyazaki is a mastermind this movie is a masterpiece. Uh yeah Im leaving lol.
100 /100
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