Reel Reviews

Film Reviews by a Real Person, Not a Critic

Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi

Title: ć?ƒă?šć?ƒć°‹ă?źç„žéš ă?— (Spirited Away)
Year: 2001
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki (original Japanese version); Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette (American version)
Rated: PG

Reel Reviews Rating:

Ah, now I get to review my FAVORITE Miyazaki film 🙂 This will be my pleasure.

The film opens with a family in a car, on the way to their new home. Upset at having to move away from her friends, 10-year-old Chihiro (voiced by Hiiragi/Chase) mopes and whines to her parents in the back seat. Somewhere down the road her father takes a wrong turn, and they find themselves in what they think is an abandoned themepark. Unbeknownst to the family, this is actually a magical town where spirits and gods come for relaxation. When Chihiro’s famished parents unwittingly eat food meant for the spirits, they’re punished by being turned into pigs. With the help of a mysterious boy called Haku (voiced Irino/Marsden) and some of the employees at the nearby bath house of the gods, Chihiro resolves to break her parents’ spell and escape from this strange place.

When I first saw this film, I admit that I found it weird. Because I’m unfamiliar with Japanese folklore, I couldn’t relate to the spirits and gods, and I definitely was thrown off by some of the characters (e.g. a giant 12 foot tall baby, a half-bird woman, a 6-armed man). But at the same time I enjoyed this unique twist on what’s basically a classic coming of age tale, as we see Chihiro grow from a spoiled and whiny child, to a responsible and mature young lady.

As expected from any Miyazaki film, the artwork is amazing. The looming, colorful bath house contrasts nicely with the sea of green grass during the daytime scenes, and stands out like a beacon against the black sky at night. The spirits who frequent the bath house are a fascinating cast of characters. One for example, is a “radish spirit” who looks like a cross between a mastadon, a radish, and a sumo wrestler. Another is a river spirit, with the face of an old man but the body of a centipede.

Then of course, there’s the greatest, most AWESOME spirit of them all.

My favorite.

The one.

The only.

Kaonashi.

Words cannot explain how much I heart this guy. I don’t know why I even like him. He doesn’t speak much and has a strange food addiction, but he fascinates me so much that I named my first (and current other) blog after him and made him my mascot. Kaonashi Ga Suki means I like No Face!

Anyway…

I re-watched Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi last week to refresh my memory, but since the DVD remote was missing, I was forced to watch it under the default English dubbing. I thought it was pretty ok. Daveigh Chase and Suzanne Pleshette did really well in their renditions of Chihiro and the bath house owner/witch Yubaba, respectively. I noticed though, that in the American version, there were added lines that aren’t in the Japanese version. Although some of the lines were to make certain scenes clearer to English-speaking audiences (for example, Chihiro commenting “It’s a bath house,” as she stares at the building), at times I feel that they spoonfed certain pieces of information to us.

In spite of the PG rating, I think that Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi is appropriate for all ages. Kids will love the cute magical characters, older children will find certain scenes funny, and adults will appreciate the story. In one scene a main character gets badly injured and bleeds heavily, but I don’t think it’s enough to scare little children. However, because of unfamiliarity with Japanese folklore, some children (and adults!) may not understand or relate to the movie well enough and get confused during some moments.

In general, I say…BUY the film! You won’t regret it!


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February 15, 2006 - Posted by | Adventure, animation, Fantasy, Foreign, Miyazaki Films

9 Comments »

  1. I would have to watch this without my husband as he’s not in to subtitles and we don’t speak Japanese. It sounds like an intriguing movie.

    WC

    Comment by Wild Child | February 15, 2006 | Reply

  2. Wild Child- I hope you enjoy the movie as much as I do 🙂

    Comment by Toni | February 15, 2006 | Reply

  3. I read somewhere that the folks at Pixar are heavily influenced by Hayao Miyazaki. They all not only pay attention to detail and create beautiful scenery, they also all have very strong storylines. I watched Spirited Away because it was one of the top movies at Netflix while I was searching for anime. It’s definitely a great movie.

    Comment by marvo | February 16, 2006 | Reply

  4. maybe you could go with 7 “pizzas” with this film ….

    Comment by koolinus | March 1, 2006 | Reply

  5. Thank you koolinus for your input, but I think that very, very, very few films earn a 7. BTW, those are reels, not pizzas 🙂

    Comment by reelreviews | March 1, 2006 | Reply

  6. in italy we call them “pizza films” 😀

    Comment by koolinus | March 1, 2006 | Reply

  7. Now I’m hungry! 🙂

    Comment by reelreviews | March 1, 2006 | Reply

  8. It’s a great fun movie (speaking as a Westerner who was entirely unfamiliar with that sort of world and those kinds of spirits) that kept me amused all the way through. Lovely drawings, atmospheric and one to remember which is high praise as far as I am concerned.

    Comment by starfields | April 17, 2006 | Reply

  9. This is my utmost favorite movie of all time. Even though it is a anime, it has a great story and many teachings and subtle meanings through out the film. It is a great film for both children and adults alike. In my book it got a 7/7 pizzas heh. Do not miss this film. Buy it, borrow it, heck even steal it if necessary to watch this great tale!

    Comment by Doug | September 29, 2006 | Reply


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