Spirited Away

2003 / DVD (Engligh soundtrack)

SF elements

Japanese fantasy


[DVD cover]

[working in the bath house] 10-year-old Chihiro is unhappy with her parents moving, making her leave all her friends behind. On their way to their new house, they take a wrong turning, and end up at a strange building. Her father says its an old abandoned theme park, and decides to explore. Chihiro is unhappy about this too. But it is actually an entrance to the spirit world, and disaster strikes, and her parents are turned into pigs, leaving Chihiro alone to try to rescue them, all the time in danger herself of being forever trapped in the spirit world.

[working in the furnace] I don't know enough about Japanese fantasy to know how much this is reusing standard ideas, and how much is completely new. But I found it a marvelously inventive tale, with its enormous buildings and machines, funny and grotesque creatures (from animated soot motes to dragons), and scary moments. And it doesn't suffer from "cute kid" syndrome, either -- Chihiro is a believable as an initially timid, scared child dumped into a scary situation, and forced to become brave and resourceful to succeed.

Rating: 2.5

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 1 May 2004