Spirited Away

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

> > May 2003

Spirited Away - Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
By Chris GramlichThe phrase visually stunning is so overused, especially with anime, that it's lost its impact it's inadequate when ascribed to true greatness. But Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away is indeed visually stunning; it is also engaging, masterful, compelling and enchanting. The acclaimed mastermind behind Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki is a legend of some 20 years in animation and his latest work, Spirited Away, rightfully won a host of awards, as well as being Japan's highest grossing movie of all time. Spirited Away tells the story of Chirio, a precocious, semi-spoiled little girl who is forced to find her inner courage when she and her mother and father accidentally venture over to the spirit realm from the real world. Trapped and separated from her parents, who have been transformed into pigs, she takes a job at an otherworldly bathhouse and attempts to adapt to her strange new world long enough to save her parents and find a way back to her world. The strength of Spirited Away lies in its number of excellent characters, both protagonists and ambiguous antagonists, its straightforward, familiar story that still manages to be captivating, and its lush, gorgeous animation. Spirited Away is visually overwhelming in its glory, requiring numerous viewings to take in all its splendour, multitude of peripheral characters, backgrounds and landscapes, and its almost absurd attention to detail. Its extras don't quite match the greatness of the movie, although they are interesting, with the most engaging being the Nippon Television making of, which documents Miyazaki and his studio's stressful race against the clock to make sure Spirited Away hit its release date, and also gives glimpses into Miyazaki's inspirations for the movie. Extras: Intro by John Lasseter; art of Spirited Away; Nippon Television making of; storyboard to scene comparisons; behind the microphone; original Japanese trailers. (Walt Disney/Beuna Vista)
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