Spirited Away: A Review of a Bypassed Masterpiece

Logan Boehm

If you’re into movies, especially animated movies, it’s likely you’ve at least heard of Spirited Away, a Studio Ghibli film made in 2001, although released in 2002 for the EnglishThis movie broke and kept records, topping Japan’s box office for almost two decades, and in 2003, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which is no small task for any movie to do, let alone a Japanese movie, considering how a huge batch of the voters and audience are likely English. But recently, as of the final week of 2020, Spirited Away’s spot of top Japan box office film was stripped, being bypassed by the recent movie, Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Train, otherwise known as Demon Slayer: Demon Train for the English fans, in only about two and a half months of its release. That movie also has a nomination for the Best Animated Feature, so we shall see if this is going to be a repeat of the events of 2003, or if the massive popularity of the movie and its series are the only things that gave the movie its record-breaking numbers. But that’s not what we’re here for. Today, you’re getting a review of Spirited Away, the movie that was another smashing wonder by Studio Ghibli, and a movie that continued the studio’s legacy of wonderful movies with compelling stories. 

The movie is about 10-year-old Chihiro and her parents, who end up getting sidetracked from their trip to start moving by a mysterious tunnel that leads to an abandoned amusement park. Here, the parents end up in an unknowing trap, as once night falls in this amusement park, you’ll find yourself in the mystical, wonderful, and dangerous spirit world. Well, dangerous to humans, at least, especially since you won’t even know that you’re in the spirit world. This is the root of the conflict, as once the family gets into the spirit world, Chihiro’s parents turn into pigs, much to Chihiro’s dismay and concern. This is what sets off the entire movie’s events and major plot, but this is a review, not a plot dump of a 19-year-old movie.  

The movie itself is absolutely nothing short of spectacular, having stunning visuals, a beautiful background music score, wonderful voice acting, and a story that pulls on your heartstrings. You find yourself getting invested in the plenty of characters introduced in the spirit world, despite knowing that the whole goal of this movie is to escape from this world, to leave everything here behind to be safe with her family again. The score helps create this wonderful, whimsical, and occasionally dangerous or action-filled feeling that belongs to a scenario like this. Studio Ghibli is known for their amazing movies that have such a wonderful story, as well as beautiful art and music, and this movie is absolutely no different. Spirited Away absolutely deserves the Academy Award it obtained in 2003, and every other award it’s gotten. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’d highly recommend it if you have about two hours to spare, as it’s a wonderful movie with spectacular characters. Check out their other movies too, the studio is full of whimsical wonders of animation, a lot even from before Spirited Away, like Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro.