Spirited Away and you: a heartfelt recommendation

When thinking of animated movies, one might remember colorful classics, such as The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and other movies generally aimed towards kids. However, one might forget that animation has the power to create some honestly beautiful pieces. Spirited Away certainly proves this.

Studio Ghibli, a renowned company of animation films, released this masterpiece in 2001. It won an Academy Award and scored a 97% on the Tomatometer (a.k.a. the word of God), accomplishing these feats with very good reason. Director Hayao Miyazaki, a co-founder of Studio Ghibli, is known for his distinct storytelling style of highly visual and fantastical pieces. His target audiences vary slightly, with films such as My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo aimed at younger people, while a movie such as Howl’s Moving Castle looks towards a somewhat older audience.

Like Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away is appreciated by, but not necessarily aimed at, older audiences. The focus of the movie, Chihiro, is a ten-year-old girl on her way to settling in a new town. However, on the way there, she and her parents stumble on a seemingly desolate town. Things unravel, the plot thickens, and the family gets stuck in the spirit world; her parents turn into pigs, and she is enslaved by a local bathhouse, losing her name in the process. Ultimately, it’s up to Chihiro to save her parents and return to the human world. It’s quite a creative tale.

Overall, this movie is fantastic, and it definitely makes it onto my Top Ten Movies list. The character development is extraordinary. Initially, the main character annoys the audience by being obnoxiously loud and arrogant, making a horrible first impression. However, as the movie progresses, she grows on the audience by demonstrating what she holds dear and showing what she is willing to do for those she loves.

This gradual audience appreciation holds true for the rest of the movie’s characters as well. Characters are not shoved into molds or expected to take certain paths, and instead, are allowed to be dimensional and dynamic.  Besides its characters, the film creates one of the most breathtaking worlds I have ever seen, integrating stunning quality animation, embodying Miyazaki’s storytelling ambitions. Because it’s cinematically brilliant and inspiring, it should definitely be added to your “to watch” list. It’s fun, beautiful, and even cute at times. It isn’t the kind of movie that will make you feel sad when you reach the end, since it concludes nicely, but there is something highly emotional about it. It is thought-evoking and reflective and perhaps even, nostalgic—well worth your time.