Spirited Away Review: A true Studio Ghibli classic that needs to be seen
Easily regarded as both Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s best film, the Academy Award winning Spirited Away mostly holds up to this acclaim and brings incredibly vibrant and fun fantasy adventure.
The film follows a young girl named Chihiro (Daveigh Chase) as she is transported to a magical bathhouse full of magical creatures. Not everything is so pleasant, though, as her parents are turned into pigs and she requires help from a suspicious witch (Suzanne Pleshette) to not only bring her parents back, but return to her own world. With help from another bathhouse woman, Lin (Susan Eagon), and the witch’s mysterious apprentice, Haku (Jason Marsden), Chihiro sets off on a magical adventure to make everything right.
Spirited Away is truly full of imagination and there are so many cleverly crafted creatures that are so appealing to see on the big screen. They are colorful in both appearance and personality with some elements that could be even considered a little creepy. Just from seeing them at first glance, viewers will become incredibly hooked to what is happening on-screen.
Not to mention, Miyazaki uses these characters perfectly by slowly teasing them and revealing their true intentions and motivations only when necessary. Figuring out why Haku is stuck working in the bathhouse and why No-Face is constantly following Chihiro was incredibly satisfying and it made me much more interested in finding out more about them.
The same can’t be said much for Chihiro, though, as she isn’t exactly the most impactful Ghibli protagonist. Now, I can understand that she is meant to be more a voyeur-type character that audiences can share experiences with in this new world and there isn’t anything wrong with her, but I just struggled to find the same emotional weight I felt from other Ghibli films. So while I appreciate just having a character to go on a journey with, I just wish there was more that made her a little more memorable.
In some ways, the fact that there isn’t a big emotional weight or inherent social theme a part of Spirited Away’s charm and because of this audiences can just enjoy the fun fantasy adventure that the film brings. Honestly, it’s one Ghibli’s most relaxing watches and it’s easy to get lost in the incredible world that Miyazaki has crafted. It’s actually what makes it unique amongst Ghibli’s library and I can definitely see why it’s generally regard as many fans’ favorite.
So while it doesn’t top some of my other favorite Ghibli films, I can surely say that Spirited Away is undoubtedly a Ghibli classic. Its great characters, eye-catching fantasy elements, and excellent score make it a film that needs to be seen. It’s already a film loved by Ghibli fans and will undoubtedly be highly regarded for years to come.