Spirited Away (Review)


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. Haaaay.

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.

5 out of 5 stars.

Watch the trailer


What others say about Spirited Away?
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a fresh rating
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian says it’s amagical treat
Eleanor Gillespie of The Atlanta Journal gives it an A

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felix felicis: Spirited Away (Review)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spirited Away (Review)


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. Haaaay.

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.

5 out of 5 stars.

Watch the trailer


What others say about Spirited Away?

Labels: , , ,

1 Comments:

At May 27, 2012 at 1:31 AM , Blogger rchardjcob said...

hey! nice blog you have in here. :) btw, im richard :) im new to blogging and looking for more readers? hmm follow for follow> :) check out my new blog. at www.iamrchardjcob.blogspot.com :) thanks!

 

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