Chihiro, our main protagonist that panics a lot.
Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away will wrap up the last of the three Studio Ghibli movie marathon for this blog. All in all, Studio Ghibli movies are interesting, in their own peculiar way. It is hard really to compare them with, for example, Makoto Shinkai movies because their style is vastly different. Expect to see more of their movies reviewed here in the future, but a cursory glance at their library shows that the majority of their titles have the supernatural element in them, just like this movie and Kiki’s Delivery Service. I preferably want to see more realistic titles such as Grave of The Fireflies because I like realism more from an established and prestigious studio like Ghibli.
“No! The food is a lie….”
Our main protagonist Chihiro is in a bad mood because her family moved town without her consent. During the journey to their new home, her father was sidetracked into a remote jungle where they find an abandoned amusement park. There, her parents were trapped by the bait in the form of tasty food that turned them into pigs and Chihiro has to work extra hard to free them from the clutches of an evil sorceress that run a hot bath inn.
The story in this movie is considerably better than Kiki’s Delivery Service, but a little bit inferior to Grave of The Fireflies. Hayao Miyazaki has really improved his directing here compared to what he has done in Kiki’s Delivery Service, mainly because the story in this movie has a better presentation in the form of excellent pacing and much better control of the flow of the storyline compared to the other 2 movies reviewed before this. And those two movies did not do that bad either in those aspects. If only Grave of The Fireflies has the same treatment, it would have gotten a perfect score. He sure has become wiser and more experienced in the 10+ years between Kiki and Chihiro.
Character development seems to focus mainly on Chihiro at the expense of everyone else, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. This ensured that she becomes the strongest and most interesting character in this movie. Even Kiki, a title main protagonist is not even half as good as Chihiro did. Nevertheless, other characters like the sorceress cum hot bath manager/proprietor and the dragon boy have not been neglected either, but of course they are nothing when compared to the main protagonist. This also shows how much Hayao Miyazaki has improved in the years between Kiki and Chihiro.
Unfortunately the ending is not exactly an improvement compared to the 10+ years older Kiki’s Delivery Service. They are essentially the same tired cliché-laden predictable ending you can see from titles of the same genre, and the only difference between these two is that Spirited Away has a better presentation. Both Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service endings pales in comparison to the awesome tear-jerker ending that Grave of The Fireflies will show you. That cremation scene is truly brilliant!
Parents nowadays do not listen to their children, always thinking that they are right.
With this movie, I started to think that Studio Ghibli has this generic signature way of doing character design for all their movies, mainly because the difference between the designs in the three movies reviewed here is minimal. This is not a bad thing, but I actually expect more variations when it comes to different movies in different settings (World War 2, 19th century Europe-like city and an alternate dimension). The lack of black hair is forgivable in this movie, although I think Chihiro parents should at least have black hairs.
Ok, I did mention that the character design is not that different between the three movies, but that UNNATURAL teardrops is certainly unique for this movie only.
Compared to the first 2 Ghibli movies reviewed here, Spirited Away would be ranked behind Grave of The Fireflies but ahead of Kiki’s Delivery Service. Despite her best efforts, Chihiro is simply nowhere near Setsuko in this aspect. Still, the voice acting in this movie is very well done with Chihiro being outstanding, and definitely a positive point of this movie.
The OST is good and the ED theme is decent, but I think the older Kiki’s Delivery Service is better in this aspect compared to this movie. Still, this is still a positive point of this movie and it has performed better than Grave of The Firelies.
Some of the choreography in this movie, in this case involve our heroine running on a collapsing steelpipe.
Being newer by more than 10 years compared to Kiki’s Delivery Service and Grave of The Fireflies allowed Spirited Away to trounce both movies (DVD remastered or not) handily in this section. The animation in this movie is top-notch, even in fast-paced scenes. Choreography is also done well, but of course nowhere near the level of Avatar The Last Airbender. Meanwhile many of my comment about Hayao Miyazaki directing has already been explained above, but I also want to mention that he has managed to improve his camerawork significantly.
9 out of 10. While this movie has inferior story to Grave of The Fireflies, it make up for this in other areas, such as better presentation and music.
This screenshot is supposed to show you the beautiful water special effect in this movie. You don’t see it? Then go buy the DVD!