Spirited Away | Teen Ink

Spirited Away

December 10, 2011
By WordsRUs GOLD, Jefferson City, Missouri
WordsRUs GOLD, Jefferson City, Missouri
10 articles 0 photos 18 comments

If you have any preconceived notions about Japanese animation, you'd better chuck them out a window before you read this. Anyone who loves Japanese animated films probably has about a fifty percent chance of having writer/director Hayao Miyazaki's name tattooed across their chest. Many film critics, including Roger Ebert, consider him the Walt Disney of the East. Miyazaki's Spirited Away (winner of the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Film) does nothing but solidify his title as the greatest of all Japanese animators.

No amount of reviewing Miyazaki's previous films or studying various animation clichés will prepare you for the magical journey Spirited Away takes you on. I first saw the film with my father in the family living room at the age of fourteen. I was fairly skeptical of how my first dance with Japanese animation would turn out, but I could not have been more pleased with the outcome.

The film opens with the main character, Chihiro, whining in the backseat of her parents car about her family's moving, a perfect picture of your average ten-year-old. However, Chihiro is about to embark upon the greatest adventure she will likely ever know. After being transported into the spirit realm, Chihiro must work in a paranormal bathhouse to free her parents from a curse. Using that backdrop Miyazaki creates what I consider one of the most touching films I have ever had the honor to watch.

Every ounce of Miyazaki's talent as a director, writer, and animator is poured into this film's creative batter. The art and animation is crisp and fluid, every movement and every expression geared to suck the viewer into to the tale being woven before them. Even the backgrounds pop, be it through Chihiro looking out over an endless sea or into a crowed mass of eager bathhouse customers. Everything drawn on the screen has a purpose, something it gives to the audience that the film would be undoubtedly worse without.

The art, however, serves only as an equal companion to the film's endearing characters and unforgettable story. Chihiro begins as an average, slightly selfish young girl, but soon learns to take on responsibility and value that which she holds dear. A perfect paragon of a coming-of-age character, Chihiro will never cease to charm the viewer with her innocence and pure intentions. Haku, Chihiro's young friend within the bathhouse, remains somewhat of an enigma throughout the film, but Miyazaki still manages to portray him as a kind, equally lovable character through sharp writing. Even side characters such as Lin, Chihiro's caretaker, manage to shine with their unique personalities and differences.

Spirited Away's greatest asset remains its heartwarming story. Watching Chihiro struggle through countless trials all for the sake of rescuing her parents soon becomes the audience's personal quest as well. When the mood changes, the audience does as well, matching the emotions onscreen. Once the film reaches its final conclusion, a dry eye amongst the viewers would be hard to find.

When I first saw the credits roll after Spirited Away, I was filled with an immense sadness. I wasn't sad because of a bad ending (Trust me; it ends well), I felt that way because such a wonderful adventure had to end. To this day I have not been touched by an animated film the way Spirited Away did. To find such remarkably human qualities within characters made by an artist's hand is a rare treat indeed. I do believe Spirited Away will stand the test of time and remain a beloved favorite for ages to come.

5/5 Stars

The author's comments:
Spirited Away is probably my favorite animated film. I salute you, Hayao Miyazaki.

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