Reviewed by: Jonathan D'Souza
Starring: Daveigh Chase, Michael Chiklis, Susan Egan, Lauren Holly, Jason Marsden | Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki | Produced by: Toshio Suzuki | Written by: Hayao Miyazaki | Distributor: Walt Disney
Following his great work of “Princess Mononoke”, Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki has done it again—breaking all box office records in its country of origin. And Disney has done a good job of dubbing the film for its limited release on North American screens.
Being an anime fan, I was impressed and enjoyed a film like this which isn’t as violent or profane as most anime. In fact, “Spirited Away” is made for kids. Questionable material present include the presence of mythical gods, spirits and magic. It is like a Japanese version of “Alice in Wonderland”. The most violent scene features a dragon who is being attacked by paper birds and coughs up a lot of blood, as well as a scene where a spirit swallows a bunch of creatures (spitting them out unharmed later). Some of these scenes could be scary for smaller children. There are no satanic or occultic signs visible aside from two witches—one of which runs a resort for spirits. So if you’re not offended by fantasy movies involving strange creatures (a cross between Disney’s “Hercules” and “Alice in Wonderland”), then “Spirited Away” may be enjoyed greatly by adults and older children.
The story follows a young girl who wanders into a strange place with her parents and must rescue her parents after they get turned into pigs for being too greedy. There a lots of lessons to be learned from the film, including love, forgiveness, and courage. Some of these may be lost on younger viewers but older audience members will pick up these things right away.
The quality of the animation for simple cell drawings, rather than the American way of combining computer animation, is simply remarkable and beautifully done. The film has its hilarious moments and, in my opinion, can be enjoyed by almost everyone.