Archive: Spirited Away (2001) A Review

Only the second Studio Ghibli I have ever seen, and I enjoyed it immensely.  It may not have been at all what I was expecting, but it was great!!

Certificate: PG

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Screenwriter: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino

Genre: Animation, Family

Runtime: 125 Mins

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Do not let the charming animation and bright colours fool you.  This film is not in any way for you children, and in my opinion, may not be for children at all.  It’s a great story, dark and whimsical and I loved every second of it.

10-year-old Chihiro and her parents stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro meets the mysterious Haku, who explains that the park is a resort for supernatural beings who need a break from their time spent in the earthly realm, and that she must work there to free herself and her parents. – From IMDB

I think giving this film a PG rating is a little generous.  There is no way I would let kids younger then twelve watch this, unaccompanied.  A 12A is the minimum I would suggest.  The story is VERY dark and there are some truly distressing scenes.  The scene where Sen discovers her parents have turned into pigs is just horrifying and the same goes for the scene where No Face is chasing her through the bath house while vomiting.  There are some seriously strong visuals in this that I will not be forgetting anytime soon, and would not recommend for younger kids.

That aside, the film really is astonishing.  The story is engaging and just wacky.  One of the things I love most about Asian cinema is that I can never tell what is going to happen.  They have an entirely different set of tropes to those we usually see in the West, meaning their films are always that bit more interesting to me.  This story that starts out being about saving her parents turns into something else entirely and has a handful of great side stories going on, the whole thing is fantastically structured and will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

All the characters here are amazing as well, from the truly repulsive right through to innocent, headstrong little Chihiro, they are all well developed with interesting stories and all their interactions are just priceless.  So glad I picked this one as my next Ghibli Watch.

This film along with many other Studio Ghibli movies are now available in Netflix.

1 Comment

  1. I have only watched Ghibli movies (including this one) in Japanese. I wonder how it is explained in English why Chihiro is renamed “Sen”.
    As to it being too scary for young children…in Japan, small young watch Ghibli movies, including this one. Some Disney children’s movies have equally mildly frightening aspects.


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