Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)

I consider this to be one of the best animated films of all time. Not only that, but also one of the best films in the last twenty years. I like making bold statements like that from time to time, but I really don't think I'm stepping on too many toes by saying that. This film is as timeless as The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and even Snow White. What makes this film work is that it doesn't bother trying explain things no matter how fantastical they may seem. Everything is fairly straightforward and simple. 

It's a fish out of water story. Chihiro, a ten year old girl, is being taken by her parents to their new home. She doesn't want to go anywhere else strange, but when her dad takes a wrong turn through a woodsy drive you know that the definition of "strange" is about to be redefined. 

They discover a little tunnel that leads to another world. At first Chihiro's parents believe that they've discovered some sort of defunct amusement park, but Chihiro senses something off about everything. Of course, she's ten so her parents don't listen. 

When her mom and dad smell food in the air, they take off in that direction and leave Chihiro behind to chase after them. 

After stuffing themselves, Chihiro's parents literally turn into pigs and Chihiro is left all alone in a strange world and unable to return to her old world. The only way she can hope to save her parents and return home is to get a job in a bizarre bathhouse and work for the tyrannical Yubaba. 

Yubaba is the kind of lady that robs her workers of their names and memories, too. If the now renamed Sen wants to rescue her parents she must remember her true name and not mess up on the job. Along the way a boy named Haku (who also can turn into a dragon - a nifty trick) helps her along, but he is far from the only one. The strange No-Face also helps her in his bizarre way when he's not trying to eat her coworkers. 

I loved this movie so much that I bought the $70 region free imported blu-ray. While there is no English dub on this version, I didn't really see the need for one. The dub is certainly good, but the original is excellent and the picture has never looked better. Although the disc menu being in Japanese took a second for me to grasp, I quickly adjusted. The case is awesome, though. It's not just some cheap blue plastic, but a protective cover with a magnets inside to make sure it stays shut once you close it. I also got a neat holographic postcard when I ordered it from

For one of the best films I've seen, I think the price was worth it. I know this film by heart and it's hard to believe it is thirteen years old. It's hard to believe I haven't seen it in about five years. This movie is just too good to miss. There's a reason it is frequently mentioned as one of the best movies to ever be animated. 

Just watch it. Experience it. The animation is fantastic and worth watching for alone. Every scene in this movie could be frozen and appreciated for its beauty. Even though you don't know much about the world in which this movie takes place and won't know, you don't really need to know. You just need to watch and enjoy. 

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