Last Saturday, I woke up late and found out
that my parents attended a church activity somewhere in Balara. I was left with
my two brothers and a pack of chocolate wafers. While nibbling through the pack
of wafers, Tel and I decided to find something worth watching. We thought of
watching The Secret World of Arriety but apparently, I forgot to save it on my
drive so we ended up with another Japanese animated movie—Spirited Away.
Spirited Away—Studio Ghibli and
world-acclaimed writer/director Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece—is set in a made
up world of spirits and magical creatures. Critics say it’s an Asian version of
Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, a wonderful
homage to these literary and film classics. I could not agree more.
The movie begins with Chihiro, a 10-year old
girl who sulks over the wilted flowers given by her friends as a farewell
present. Their family is set to move in to another neighborhood, somewhere in
the provinces of Japan. Seeing her sadness over this sudden change, Chihiro’s
parents comfort her and tell her that everything would be fine. She’ll make new
friends and find a better atmosphere in their new home.
Her gloating was soon changed when her Dad
makes a wrong turn and their car ends up face-to-face a bricked edifice with
unusual stone formations. Captivated by the eerie feel of the abandoned
theme-park, Dad urged them to explore it. Chihiro wouldn’t budge but because
she’s scared to be left alone, she clutched her mom’s arms and joined the
adventure. A complex turn of events would soon ensue as her parents were
enticed by a sumptuous banquet laid out in an empty stall. Chihiro refused to
eat so she set off and saw an open bathhouse. When she returned, Chihiro saw
that her mom and dad were turned into pigs. As the sun had gone down, the
abandoned theme park turns into something Chihiro has never seen before. Masked
shadows wandering, talking animals and walking radishes swarm the place.
Thankfully, a boy of the same age named Haku explains to her that she’s trapped
in a spirit world and that the bathhouse she saw was a recreational place for
these wearied spirits.
The helpless Chihiro must now face things
before she sees the ire of Yubaba, an evil sorceress who also happens to run
the immense spirit bathhouse. She would be allowed in the spirit world as long
as she can fulfill the job orders laid upon her by the old crone. Her adventures
begin to pile— Yubaba renames her Sen and then she befriends the six-legged
boilerman Kamaji and his soot mites. She was also made to scrub a very huge
tub, welcome a stink spirit and calm down No Face, a shadow spirit who ate a
lot of the bathhouse’s employees. No Face would soon become her trusty
companion as she faces the odds head on.
There are many more fun adventures packed in
this hour-and-a-half long film. In the many challenges and adventures faced by
the young Chihiro, the viewers would see how she gradually transformed into a
brave and intelligent girl. As a whole, the movie doesn’t only highlight the
importance of friendship; it also talks about courage and maturity in times of
adversity. For one, it is hard for a young girl to be left alone and see right
before your eyes that your parents were changed into pigs. There’s also this
big responsibility to save them and get out of the make-believe world. Chihiro
learned all of that in Yubaba and Haku’s spirit world. She made friends and
saved important people in her life. Most of all, amidst all those, she never
forgot who she was. She cried but she never wallowed on that sadness. She stood
tall and made it through. This coming-of-age film is definitely one of the
best, I must say.
|Chihiro with No Face.|
Aside from the beautiful storyline, the movie’s
main attraction is its vivid animation. Unlike other animated films nowadays,
Spirited Away was done traditionally, manually drawn and then digitalized. One
would really see the hardwork, Ghibli and Miyazaki’s team made. Further, the musical
score enhances the enchanted feel of the movie. My favorite part was when
Chihiro rode the train with No Face, the miniature crow and the small rhino
(which is really Yubaba’s baby). The silence of the spirits and Chihiro’s
contemplation over everything that happened while the train ran across the
sea-soaked railroad—one could not just help but feel for the young girl.
In the end, everything was again in place.
The spirit world was gone. Haku tells us not to look back and move forward.
Then, we’re onto the real world again. Spirited Away is escapism at best— the
fantasies of that magical world remain. We only need to get lost again and explore
these new wonders.
others say about Spirited Away?
Labels: hayao miyazaki, japanese films, movie review, spirited away