Teen Movie Review: Spirited Away

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Teen Movie Review: Spirited Away

Elijah Butts, SYEP employee, shares his thoughts on one of the most popular Miyazai films

Review by Elijah Butts, 2020 MBSYEP Employee

I've never been one for Disney movies and other animated movies aimed at kids that are often in theaters now. So deciding to watch Spirited Away, I was feeling pretty unenthusiastic but its glowing reviews and Studio Ghibli’s reputation pushed me to still 
watch it.

Spirited Away is about a 10 year old girl named Chihiro, who while on the way to her new home her parents decide to take a detour and go down a old road. After passing through a tunnel they end up in what seems to be an abandoned town. In the town, her parents find an open food stall and eat the food, saying they can pay the shop owner once they get there. But they turn into pigs! Guided by Haku, who she meets while looking around, she sets off to try and save her parents and return to her own world.

Despite being a children's film, I found the story to be surprisingly mature and enjoyable. Near the beginning of the story Chihiro was a bit of a spoiled kid, but she progresses a lot as a character as she meets and interacts with the denizens of the spirit world, more specifically the staff of the witch Yubaba’s bathhouse. The bathhouse serves as a place to take care of and clean spirits who come there during the night. The witch Yubaba had taken an oath to give anyone a job and Chihiro by signing this contract was able to avoid being turned into a pig by Yubaba. The movie does a lot to create a sense of mystery and often uses soft worldbuilding. Instead of always outlining every single rule of the world you're only given just enough for things to make sense further heightening the sense of wonder throughout. On top of this, the animation is extremely good. It all flows very well and allows for breathtaking scenes that really bring the world to life alongside your imagination. The atmosphere this creates is amazing, the bustling town filled only with restaurants and the lights hanging around them, the tall bathhouse with its winding stairways and constantly moving gears. As you watch the movie you are constantly left with a sense of wonder. Even during the calmer moments you're still feeling swept away by the atmosphere of it all, to the point that when the movie ended I still had so many questions and didn't feel like a had even absorbed half of what was going on. The film has its fair share of twists and turns and was very enjoyable however I feel that the movie could benefit greatly from multiple rewatches, which I'd gladly do, in order to get the full experience.

This is a movie I would definitely recommend to all ages. A small note, it does show blood in a few scenes, so if you're a parent whether or not that's okay for your child would be up to you. All in all, I feel that despite not being a part of the intended audience, this is an excellent movie that deserves a watch no matter what type of person you are.

Watch Spirited Away by placing a hold on the DVD

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