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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie for all ages!
I don't quite understand or agree a few user's reviews of this movie. I saw it with my 6 year old daughter, who I never take to anything rated stronger than PG. I think this movie teaches kids such wonderful lessons in humanity, and you need to understand the meaning behind the movie yourself before you can judge it. It might be a little confusing to the lesser educated...
Published on April 7 2003 by Christian Mom

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3.0 out of 5 stars Great Animation But Confusing Story
I'm going to Japan this summer, so after reading all the great reviews on this site, I thought this movie would be a great thing to watch. I was quite disappointed.
There is no denying that the animation is great. Everything is very nicely drawn. However the story is confusing. The story revolves around a young girl who becomes trapped in a magical world is spirits...
Published on May 5 2003 by sullivan_gurl


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie for all ages!, April 7 2003
By 
Christian Mom (Mesa, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
I don't quite understand or agree a few user's reviews of this movie. I saw it with my 6 year old daughter, who I never take to anything rated stronger than PG. I think this movie teaches kids such wonderful lessons in humanity, and you need to understand the meaning behind the movie yourself before you can judge it. It might be a little confusing to the lesser educated? My daughter loved it, and we used it as an important lesson about morals. You will never see her eat food left sitting on a counter!! My husband and I also loved the movie. Don't be afraid to let your kids see this movie, it's certainly better than the .... afternoon cartoons they watch on t.v. Although I don't care for anime, this was a REALLY good movie, we have already pre-ordered it for dvd. Put the popcorn in the microwave sit down with the family and enjoy! If they have any nightmares you can blame me, but frankly my daughter has more nightmares after watching teletubbies! So do I!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars undescribable and unique, Feb. 23 2003
This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
This movie is different. That is the main thing an average American must remember when going to see it. It is not a "happy, simple, plotline with song and dance" for children. This is Ghibli, not Disney folks. Spirited Away reminds me of a Fairy Tale or a Fable. The kind of thing you would read about in a modern Brothers Grimm collection. There are weird, sometimes creepy, sometimes cute, always strange and different creatures to be beheld here and not everyone will appreciate that.
The plot follows 10-year-old Chihiro who is moving away to a new city and has a bit of a problem with being self-centered. When her parents stumble on an abandoned amusement-park and go exploring they come across some fresh food. Thinking the place might still be in business they sit down to eat and decide to pay later. The food ends up turning them into pigs and from there the plot spirals into a series of strange events that sometimes don't quite make sense, but are fun to watch anyways.
This movie holds quite a few themes and contains a lot of symbolism. It is rather complex, which is becoming rare for a PG movie. At times, it may seem a little rushed or random and many people may think Mr. Miyazaki is not quite all the way there or is abusing certain substances. These people, are closed-minded however and should shut-up and mind their own beeswax. This movie requires a selected taste and artistic understanding. If fantasy and fairy-tales aren't your thing, ignore, leave it alone by all means. If you are in the mood for something new and creative, if you want your kids to see something more than brainwashed cartoons, if you want to see beautiful animation, see this movie! It may take some time before you appreciate it, and you may have to expand what you think about cartoons or entertainment, but I think that expanding is a good thing. This is certainly not everybody's movie, but that's what makes it great. After all, do you prefer "one size fits all" or something tailored to be something specific. Of course, it may not be what you usually wear, but it wouldn't hurt to try it on for size.
Regarding children, I have heard all manner of things from "kids fled screaming in terror" to "they fell in love with it and want to see it again and again and again and..." When I saw the movie some kids there stayed for the whole thing, I think one person walked out. So let's be honest, this movie is not suitable for some children. There is a bleeding dragon, there are scary creatures, there are weird enchantresses with big heads and giant babies. It is weird and it can be scary. On the same note some kids might be enthralled with this movie. The giant baby could be found hilarious, the dragon (when not bleeding) magical, the creatures (or "spirits rather") curious and fun. It depends on the age and on the child. This is not Pokemon nor is it Princess Mononoke. This is very diffirent from both of those. Know your kids before letting them see it, see the movie before letting them see it. Parental Guidance is suggested folks, adhere to this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miyazaki's Waking Dream, April 23 2003
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This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
After grossing more than $250 million in its native Japan and enthralling the anime fan community in the United States, "Spirited Away" has been released both theatrically and in a well-assembled English/Japanese hybrid DVD to great critical and popular acclaim. Winning the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature didn't hurt, either, and now people are finally beginning to discover what makes Hayao Miyazaki one of the most widely-celebrated directors in the world. Even if he's never made a film with a single living actor on screen.
What makes the movie so special is not just the beauty and gidy strangeness of the images, but because it is at core a grand and well-told story. People who hate animation find themselves captivated after only a few minutes, probably because the story starts on such specific, realistic terms and only gradually branches into fantasy. By the time we're neck-deep in it, so to speak, there's no turning back.
"Spirited Away" gives us Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi in Japanese, and an excellent Daveigh Chase in English), a sullen and dispirited ten-year-old traveling with her parents to their new home in the suburbs. Chihiro has not wanted to move, and resents her mother and father for being forced to leave her old life behind -- much as any ten-year-old would -- and her parents are blithely indifferent to her annoyance. She'll get over it, they seem to be thinking.
Their car takes a wrong turn and winds up being stopped near what looks like a theme park. "They built a lot of these in the Nineties, before the economy went bad," her father says, "so you tend to find them just sort of standing around, falling apart." That doesn't make the place any less creepy, and Chihiro's preternatural unease only increases when her parents find a buffet table heaped with fresh food and begin digging in, despite no one else being in sight. Before she realizes what's going on, her parents have changed into pigs (Miyazaki's earlier Porco Rosso was also about a man changed into a pig), and she's running through the park scared out of her mind.
Somehow Chihiro has crossed over into a parallel world of sorts, one where the park is very much alive, and catering vigorously as a kind of vacation resort to the "Eight Million Gods." In a scene worthy of Kurosawa, Chihiro watches open-mouthed as a giant paddle-wheel steamboat docks and disgorges an apparently endless procession of spirits, all lining up for a fancy meal and soak in the hot springs. She also befriends (somewhat by accident) a young boy, Haku, who works in the resort and gives Chihiro tips on how to be employed there by the owners. There is also something strangely familiar about him, which becomes of paramount importance in the movie's closing scenes, but the less said about that the better.
The movie has the feel of a dream, and that is, I suspect, something that threw people off -- they were expecting something more conventionally Disneyfied, and not something that had strong roots in surreal / fantastic art. That to me makes it all the more valuable: this isn't something that was thrown together to sell some action figures, but is a communication from one soul to many. And at the end, when the dream is over, we realize what we've seen has been in its own way as adventurous and thought-provoking as anything by David Lynch.
PIXAR CEO John Lasseter personally took the reins to bring this film to American audiences, and did it with love and care. The English dub is never distracting, although if you like the movie it's worth watching again in Japanese to see how little (or how much) was actually changed. Very little has been arbitrarily rewritten, and the voice actors all give a great deal of gusto with their performances.
Disney's presentation has been lavish -- two discs, with the movie isolated on one disc and sporting both English and Japanese audio. Some seamless-branching work has been done to the titles, which may glitch on some players (it was OK on my PC, but twitched slightly on my standalone Sony DVD player), but the whole package is quite effective. The 2nd disc also features a storyboard-to-film comparison that students of the production will find endlessly enthralling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable journey, Feb. 11 2003
This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
I saw ï¿Spirited Awayï¿ two times in Spain (in Spanish, naturally), and it has become my absolute favourite of all of Hayao Miyazakiï¿s films. Miyazaki is, for me, the epitome of Japanese animation and the undisputed master of his craft. He fills the screen with minute details, doing most of the painstaking animation by hand in an age of computer animation (see Disney). His films are always unique both in visual style and in plot, expressing lost mythologies, alternate worlds, and the spirits that surround us. In Japan anime is not only for children, a concept which Western audiences have difficulty understanding. These are more than mere cartoons; they are explorations of self, nature, and in some ways Japanese society (there are frequently Japanese elements in many of Miyazakiï¿s films although most are set in fictitious places).
ï¿Spirited Awayï¿ tells the lovely story of Chihiro, a ten-year-old Japanese girl that is moving to a new town. Along the way the family stops to explore a mysterious tunnel that turns out to be a pathway into an alternate world filled with gods, witches and strange creatures. Chihiroï¿s parents are transformed into large pigs as punishment for their gluttony (there are frequently morals in Miyazakiï¿s tales as well), and Chihiro begins work for the witch Yubaba while desperately trying to find a cure for her parents before they are eaten (!). She befriends Haku, a mysterious boy whom she feels some past connection to, and together the two attempt to overthrow the tyrannical reign of Yubaba.
A gorgeous film, with a beautiful soundtrack by frequent Miyazai collaborator Joe Hisaishi (ï¿Princess Mononoke,ï¿ ï¿Kikiï¿s Delivery Service,ï¿ ï¿Totoroï¿). There are some elements that may be disturbing to very young children (the threat of Chihiroï¿s parents being eaten even as a pigï¿s head is shown at a feast, several scary rampages, some blood), but overall this is an excellent, quality film that is a feast for the eyes, ears, and imagination, and a true journey of the spirit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swept away by 'Spirited Away'..., Oct. 18 2004
By 
Christopher Hall (North Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
'Spirited Away' will sweep you off you feet and send you on a thrilling adventure into Miyazaki's lushly animated world full of wonderful creatures and lovably bizarre characters in a movie that will captivate you for almost two hours. It certainly did me.
'Spirited Away' is such a rare treat in today's world with little new been done with conventional cartoons in the world of cinema. Instead, all the major studios are opting for CGI-driven movies that may please visually, but tend to lack in everything else. 'Spirited Away' is lavishly beautiful too the eye, yet is also a strongly structured tale that has the heart missing out of most modern-day animation making this movie really stand out from the crowd and a definite must-see.
The story focuses around a little girl named Chihiro who becomes deserted from her parents, only to return and find that they have been turned into pigs. Here she befriends the magically talented and graceful Haku, who safely guides her through, what the place she has found herself in, becomes after nightfall - a spa hotel for thousands of Japan's gods and spirits. Haku tells her that she must find work in there if she is to stay and find a way to break the spell on her parents before they become dinner for some of the hotel's demanding guests.
I could find little wrong with 'Spirited Away', which is a lot coming from someone who is always trying to find something wrong with everything. I was utterly captivated in this movie from start to finish. It has everything. Fantasy, the supernatural, comedy, drama... You name it, this movie has it. I've never found that I could recommend an animated movie as highly as I can with this luxurious tale.
The character design is fabulous meaning you're guaranteed to meet many kinds of gods, spirits, and creatures that you won't come across anywhere else. Some of the characters literally made me say "wow!" as they really are outstanding
'Spirited Away' is absolutely spellbinding throughout and worthy of all the praise it has, and will receive in the present and near future.
See it now!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far more intelligent than typical Disney fare..., Nov. 26 2003
By 
Steven Shon (Walworth, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
And there's a reason for that. Although the DVD is made by Disney, the movie is licensed by Disney, and the promotion (such as it is) of this movie is done by Disney, this is *not* a Disney movie. And thank God for that.
First, allow me to start with the animation. True, it is not as smooth as a lot of American animated films in several places. However, it is still very smooth often enough, and never drops below an acceptable framerate. In addition, it far more *detailed* than most American animation...yes, there are less unnecessary movements in segments, but there is far more detail in images. American animation rarely has many shadows on characters or moving objects, instead having one base color for every (moving) object with another one to tell you that even though it *looks* like a hunk of concrete, it really isn't supposed to be. The art in Spirited Away, although stylized, is far more detailed...most moving objects obey a "three-color rule" (one base color, one color for highlights, one color for shadows), and far more effort is put into details and backrounds than in any Disney film.
The dub is...well, it's servicable. Apparently matching voices to animation is far more difficult than doing it the other way around, so the voices are somewhat stilted in places. Disney also ruined an entire plotline, and a rather important one at that, so as not to confuse the little kiddies...or something like that, because they completely undid a major mystery of the story right off the bat, probably to try to hit the little kids in the audience over the head with the answer.
The Japanese language version, on the other hand, is excellent, although the subtitles aren't the most accurate translation. Voice acting is believable and so on, and the writing is top-notch.
Oh, and the soundtrack *rules*. You have to buy this if you like orchestrated music *at all*.
A lot of parents are complaining because it's "too confusing" and "too negative" for little kids to see, they say. You see, this movie does not coddle its viewers. In most Disney movies, the plot goes something like this: A beautiful girl is forced into a life of "horrible servitude" (which does not stop her from constantly smiling, dancing, singing, and generally having a wonderful time for the first eighteen years of her life), and then is put to sleep until some random guy with a good smile comes along and even though she's never met the guy they decide to spend the rest of their lives together.
This story is very different. In the beginning of the movie, Chihiro is severed from her only potential allies, her parents. However, rather than mope around going, "Oh my paws and whiskers, whatever shall I do?", she realizes that she's going to have to stand up and figure things out for herself, and in the meantime she has to survive. It isn't easy, because this is nothing like her previous coddled existance...people are not all sugary sweet to her, and she's forced to work hard...and generally, she's forced into a life of servitude, and she does not get the chance to sing or dance or smile about it. She meets a nice guy, but he has some sort of mystery behind him, and also works for the opposing side...however, in the end, through her own strength, and with a little encouragement she manages to (a) save the guy she's grown to love and knows well and (b) save her parents, and free *herself* from her problems. There is no happy ending, she does not live happily ever after...rather, she has to grow up, and instead of living the rest of her life doing nothing must return to the real world, and deal with whatever problems come her way.
Chihiro is a rapid departure from previous children's heroines, because previous heroines did not really do very much. The moral of their stories was that nothing could ever be so bad you couldn't be happy, and that other people would solve all your problems for you. Chihiro, though, teaches us that things won't always be all right. Problems will come up, and times will not always be sing-song-along happy...however, if you work hard you yourself can solve your problems, and although you won't have a fairy-tale ending, you'll be able to live happily enough in the real world, with no problems so great you can't solve them.
This is why I love this movie so much; because the only thing Chihiro gets from other people is encouragement. She has to deal with things for herself. Not only do you have great animation, a great story, and a really really REALLY AWESOME SOUNDTRACK *cough*...excuse me there, got a bit carried away...it also offers a lesson. And again, unlike other films, it does not hit you over the head with it...but if you chose to grab it, you may.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic adventure of finding one's courage, Nov. 11 2003
By 
This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
"Spirited Away" was my welcome into anime, and a good one at that. Japanese animation is sometimes hard to follow and often confusing but this is very easy to understand. The creative works of Hayao Miyazaki previously include classics such as "Kiki's Delivery Service", "Castle In The Sky" and "Princess Mononoke", but "Spirited Away" is his latest and most acclaimed to date, winning countless awards and deservedly so. There's always been a certain magic to his movies and this is no exception.
As a family becomes lost while looking for their new home, they stumble upon a train station that leads them to an old, abandoned theme park. The young girl Chihiro has an eerie feel about the place so she's reluctant to explore and begs to go back, but as her Mom and Dad become enticed with the smell of delicious food cooking from a distance, they ignore her pleas and venture further into the shops, leaving poor, frightened Chihiro with no choice but to follow.
Her parents eventually come across plates stacked of tasty eateries and indulge themselves in it. As they try to persuade Chihiro to join them, she briskly shakes her head and, frustrated, wanders off on her own. It's then when she notices a bath house and comes to meet a mysterious boy named Haku who warns her to get out of there. As he pushes her away, darkness descends and the place no longer seems abandoned as the lights flicker on and the night comes alive with black ghosts (or spirits). As she runs back to her parents, what she finds instead are her Mom and Dad transformed into pigs. Confused and scared, she races back to the entrance only to realize that it's covered with deep waters now as a boat arrives with masked figures cloaked in drapes. As she tries to convince herself that this is all just a dream as she struggles to wake up, Haku (an oddly familiar soul) returns to her side, giving her substance so she doesn't fade and become invisible. In time she learns to trust him and he promises to assist in getting her parents back so she can leave this place and return home. But first she must blend in and demand work from the boilerman, whom happens to have legs and arms like a spider, to escape the greed that could trap her in this strange world forever. Through a series of events she eventually becomes suspicious of Haku's motives but has no other options in saving her parents. Along the way she makes new friends, becomes a stronger person, and faces challenges that help unearth the courage from within herself.
"Spirited Away" has everything you'd expect from a fantasy movie, such as a dragon that reminds me of "A Neverending Story" and a witch named Yubaba (with a very big head and an even bigger baby, mind you), but the imagination and storytelling are truly original and you never know what's going to happen next. It's a real joy to watch and the dreamy animation is beautifully realized as it's brought to life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirited Away, July 2 2004
This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
I ended up renting the movie from a movie store, don't ask me why... I didn't really expect much... I mean, I was thirteen years old, and I didn't think that anyone could make cartoons with any sort plot or captivating qualities. You watch Disney stuff too much, and it does that to you...
But THIS... THIS is NOT a cartoon. It showed more vision than any movie I'd ever seen. The characters had LAYERS, the setting was superb. It seriously made you think you were in a dream... or maybe a nightmare. The PG rating really shouldn't be on this movie, because some of the characters would be terrifying for little kids.
It's totally unlike anything you've ever seen... the plot is completely original. I mean, you can't tell me that you'd seen a movie before about a little girl going to work in a bathhouse for spirits.
This is on my top five for movies... acutally- scratch that. I think it might be the best movie I've ever seen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie, June 7 2013
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This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
I bought this movie because I saw it in social class in high school. Its a very enchanting movie and I defiantly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So much to see, so little time, June 12 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Spirited Away (Bilingual) (DVD)
The reviewer who was disappointed with this movie confounds me. Too much going on? That's what I call wonderful! Having multiple layers to the story means that we can watch the movie again and again, and each time uncover something that before, went unnoticed. This is a movie that keeps on giving and because of it, it continues to entertain, give us pause for thought, and ultimately, rates high on the "good value for the money" scale. How many DVDs do you buy that never get watched again? I know we have dozens. This movie however, has been watched dozens of times and still continues to feed us. (When I say "us" I mean a family - Dad in his 50s, mom in her late 30s, a 9 YO and a 2 year old who is now nearing 3.)
When we rented the movie without any preconceived notions, I was skeptical that I would find it enjoyable. But we were bored with all of the usual family movies, which tend to be short on depth and long on stupidity, so I picked it up.
From the moment I saw the rippling of the water and wondered how on Earth anyone could produce animation that looked so real I was intrigued. The attention to detail in the art was simply mind blowing. And then as the story began to unfold, I was impressed not only with the inventiveness of the story, but how it was so rich in content on so many levels. By the end of the movie, which I watched with my two children, I wanted to watch it again. I knew there was more to see and learn. It was to me, a puzzle to unravel.
Since that first viewing, we purchased the DVD set, watched all of the extras, including each and every trailer in Japanese. We've purchased Kiki's Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky and are awaiting the release of more Ghibli films via Disney. Personally, I find the more straightforward nature of Kiki and Castle less appealing to me, though both my children love the stories. I guess it all depends on how you are built, whether you want something that spells it all out for you, versus something that reveals itself with time and thought. (Or hey, maybe I'm just thick! ;-) )
But for me, the entertainment value of Spirited Away from a mindless eye-candy sort of approach all the way to an intellectual experience, is simply way beyond any other movie I have ever watched. That doesn't make this movie the deepest movie I've ever seen, nor the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. It simply combines so many good things into a single package that I daresay I have not seen a movie to rival it.
I'm sorry I didn't cover the story in this review, but I think that's been done sufficiently by others.
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Spirited Away (Bilingual)
Spirited Away (Bilingual) by Hayao Miyazaki (DVD - 2003)
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