Continually trading places with Princess Mononoke as my favorite Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away is
special in its own right. It holds itself up as the only Studio Ghibli
production to have been given the Academy Award for Best Animated
Feature. This event occurred in 2003 and has yet to be repeated by any
of Ghibli films since. Hayao Miyazaki developed the script for the film
himself, based on a friend's ten-year-old daughter who would come to his
home to visit every year. The film has a deeper meaning and teaches
viewers that a change of environment or a change of lifestyle can help
transform a person.
Ogino is a ten-year-old girl traveling with her parents to move to a
new home. Along their journey, they discover a hidden entrance.
Believing it to lead to an abandoned amusement park, the trio find
themselves transported, unknowingly, to another dimension. Chihiro finds
her parents transformed into pigs and takes a job at a local bathhouse
run by a witch named Yubaba in order to save them. Unfortunately, she
begins to forget her name as soon as her contract with Yubaba is signed.
A young man named Haku reveals that Yubaba owns those who are renamed
and forget their real name. Chihiro begins to go by the name of Sen and
works at the bathhouse alongside a woman named Lin, Haku, and a
spider-man named Kamaji who works in the boiler room.
takes an interesting turn when Sen allows a creature known as No-Face to
enter the business. No-Face reveals himself to be a stink demon, but he
allows for a distraction for Sen to search for her parents. She
encounters Haku transformed into a dragon, and with the help of Yubaba's
sister Zeniba, Yubaba's baby son Boh, who has been transformed into a
mouse by Zeniba, and Kamaji, Sen is able to free Haku from Yubaba's
complete control. No-Face, Sen, and Boh then set out to find a way to
heal Haku, who had been forced to steal a seal from Zeniba, find Sen's
true name, and restore Sen's parents.
Spirited Away is
truly worthy of the honor it received, and the only downside is that
none of Studio Ghibli's other works have received the same honor. Spirited Away teaches
viewers that life is full of changes, but change does not have to be a
bad thing. The romance subplot is less obvious in this film than in any
of the other Ghibli works, but it is there non the less. The animation
is stellar, as always, and every character is a treat to watch. Spirited Away is a perfect film and comes highly recommend for anyone interested in watching something spectacular.