Exceptional architecture, a compelling story and a vision that transcends generations. Spirited away is a narrative that explores the idea of identity and self-worth, as the viewer is thrusted into a world of magic disillusionment and unforgettable characters. The story focuses around a young girl who finds herself in a lost dream-like world secluded from her natural home.
Through a race against time, she must rely on her own intuition and cunning to make her way home before she’s stuck in this reality indefinitely. Brimmed with hidden meanings and an unforgettable art style, spirited away entices viewers of different background, age and denomination. It touches upon some of the most integral human emotion and displays their impact on character development marvelously.
Spirited Away broke all Japanese box office records, with a glorious personal touch that resonates with viewers. In its 29-year lifespan, Studio Ghibli has enjoyed enormous amounts of success with many of its films globally and locally. With nine of their feature length films amongst the twenty highest grossing anime films of all time, number 1 is Spirited Away. Arguably the best animated film of all time, it helped solidify director Hayao Miyazaki as a marvel in the industry. But what exceeds expectations is the beauty and ingenuity of the wonderland that lies within this film.
Moreover, the fact that Miyazaki and his team hand-draw the images before they’re digitally colored and animated gives them an artistry that American films have yet to fully embrace. It is breathtaking to take in first hand and there is an unimaginable amount of depth with every single encounter. As much of the film is hand-drawn, it helps distinguish Spirited Away from a lot of modern anime. Miyazaki specifically resists techniques developed by low-budget anime that became iconic to the genre, because most of those techniques were intended as ways to cut costs.
Aside from a tranquil opening and closing, Spirited Away keeps you on your toes with every gasp, encounter and reaction. Miyazaki risks overwhelming you, and then takes it a step further. The movie is unpredictable and eloquently put, you won’t be able to anticipate what comes next. Miyazaki doesn’t coddle kids or reassure parents because there’s no promise of a happy ending in sight. Chihiro tumbles so far down the rabbit hole, you wonder how it will turn out.
Unexplored elements of this movie itself could pose an entire new topic in cinema as the hidden hiragana characters riddled with multiple interpretations continuously foreshadow events. The representation of specific scenes and characters almost always tie back to society. Miyazaki wants to give an allusion to society for their idealization of monetary value and ignorance to what defines us as living beings. In many instances, we see how humans are associated with greediness and impurity demanding self-reflection and atonement for the disasters we have created.
Whether for its breathtaking visuals, unforgettable story, or hidden elements with incredible depth, you a pose a risk to yourself and the capacity to embrace incredible cinema by leaving this film unexplored. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away remains a masterpiece untouched by time and should be enjoyed by all that appreciate the art form.