Spirited Away

Synopsis
"The highest grossing film in Japanese box-office history (more than $234 million), Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (Sen To Chihiro Kamikakushi) is a dazzling film that reasserts the power of drawn animation to create fantasy worlds. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carroll’s Alice, Chihiro (voice by Daveigh Chase—Lilo in Disney’s Lilo & Stitch) plunges into an alternate reality. On the way to their new home, the petulant adolescent and her parents find what they think is a deserted amusement park. Her parents stuff themselves until they turn into pigs, and Chihiro discovers they’re trapped in a resort for traditional Japanese gods and spirits. An oddly familiar boy named Haku (Jason Marsden) instructs Chihiro to request a job from Yubaba (Suzanne Pleshette), the greedy witch who rules the spa. As she works, Chihiro’s untapped qualities keep her from being corrupted by the greed that pervades Yubaba’s mini-empire. In a series of fantastic adventures, she purges a river god suffering from human pollution, rescues the mysterious No-Face, and befriends Yubaba’s kindly twin, Zeniba (Pleshette again). The resolve, bravery, and love Chihiro discovers within herself enable her to aid Haku and save her parents. The result is a moving and magical journey, told with consummate skill by one of the masters of contemporary animation." (text taken from Amazon)
Year Released
2003
Running Time
125 min
Date Released
DVD release 2003
Publisher
Walt Disney Video
Country
Japan
ISBN Number
078884461X
URL
Region
Subject
Rating
5
Average: 4.6 (20 votes)

Reviews

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Spirited Away Film Review

Field of Interest/Specialty: History
Posted On: 01/13/2020
5

Nevenka DePasquale
Academic Support Teacher
Oakland Catholic High School
A wonderful story of a young girl Chihiro as she and her family get trapped in the world of spirits introduce us to so many aspects of Japanese modern and traditional culture. Chihiro’s adventures are mostly challenges and obstacles she must overcome in order to save her parents and escape the magical world. Going through hardships teaches her wisdom and courage. In the beginning of the movie, Chihiro is a spoiled and impatient 10-year old of present day. She reluctantly enders the world of spirits which seem set in the past. This is evident in the architecture and clothing of the characters she meets in this world. Chihiro’s parents are portrayed as self-centered people who want to satisfy their own needs and desires which transforms them into swine. Only through more cautious Chihiro, and her transformation as she conquers her fears and works hard to overcome obstacles posed by characters in the spirit world can she save herself and her parents. Of course, this is not possible without help of symbolic characters such as Haku, who occasionally changes from a boy into a dragon. Even the mean characters have some integrity and carry much responsibility in order for this world to function. The contrast of modern and traditional is hinted in the story. Modern times and people representing selfishness and impatience and past as times of great values hidden in hard work and common good.
As we enjoy the beauty of magical world and its surrounding, we are immersed in so much of Japanese culture, traditional architecture, religious aspects of Shintoism and Kami and the values of integrity, duty, honor and kindness. This film is great teaching tool for middle school (maybe even 9th an 10th grade) as a window in Japanese contrasting world of modern and traditional.

Spirited Away: Not a Good Film for the Elementary Classroom

Field of Interest/Specialty: Pre-K
Posted On: 01/12/2020
3

Name: Kimberly Adams
School: Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Grade Taught: second grade
Subjects Taught: language arts and social studies
Appropriate Grade Level for this Movie: (Read Review)
Review:
First, I have to say, Spirited Away is very difficult for me to review. I almost want to write two reviews, one as a personal enjoyment review and the other as a review for educators. As a movie that one can enjoy with his or her family, I would recommend it for children seven and up. I say this because a few of the scenes with the deity creatures might be a bit frightening for younger children. I think this would be a great movie for children, teens, and adults that like high fantasy-based movies. I am a huge fan of anime, and I have watched all of Hayao Miyazaki's movies. I have to say, that Spirited Away was my least favorite. While most of Hayao Miyazaki's movies contain some fantasy elements, I was simply not able to become interested in the plot. I probably would have liked it better if I watched the whole thing in Japanese with subtitles. In fact, I would recommend watching it with the subtitles. The voice acting for the English dubbed version made me cringe. The dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki's other movies was much more tolerable and even enjoyable for some reason. I will say that on a positive note, that much like Hayao Miyazaki's other movies, the artwork in this film is beautiful.
As an educator, I did not find this film to be suitable for classroom use in the elementary grades. With older students, it could be used to talk about character development. In order to talk in-depth about this film or to think critically about it, it is important that students would be able to grasp the rather abstract ideas that are presented in the film. This film would also be good to use as a comparing and contrasting activity with Hayao Miyazaki's other films. I could also see this film being used to discuss Japanese animation or artwork. There are also possibly some cultural topics that could be discussed using this film, but I would look for other possible films first.

Spirited Away: Not a Good Film for the Elementary Classroom

Field of Interest/Specialty: Pre-K
Posted On: 01/12/2020
3

Name: Kimberly Adams
School: Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Grade Taught: second grade
Subjects Taught: language arts and social studies
Appropriate Grade Level for this Movie: (Read Review)
Review:
First, I have to say, Spirited Away is very difficult for me to review. I almost want to write two reviews, one as a personal enjoyment review and the other as a review for educators. As a movie that one can enjoy with his or her family, I would recommend it for children seven and up. I say this because a few of the scenes with the deity creatures might be a bit frightening for younger children. I think this would be a great movie for children, teens, and adults that like high fantasy-based movies. I am a huge fan of anime, and I have watched all of Hayao Miyazaki's movies. I have to say, that Spirited Away was my least favorite. While most of Hayao Miyazaki's movies contain some fantasy elements, I was simply not able to become interested in the plot. I probably would have liked it better if I watched the whole thing in Japanese with subtitles. In fact, I would recommend watching it with the subtitles. The voice acting for the English dubbed version made me cringe. The dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki's other movies was much more tolerable and even enjoyable for some reason. I will say that on a positive note, that much like Hayao Miyazaki's other movies, the artwork in this film is beautiful.
As an educator, I did not find this film to be suitable for classroom use in the elementary grades. With older students, it could be used to talk about character development. In order to talk in-depth about this film or to think critically about it, it is important that students would be able to grasp the rather abstract ideas that are presented in the film. This film would also be good to use as a comparing and contrasting activity with Hayao Miyazaki's other films. I could also see this film being used to discuss Japanese animation or artwork. There are also possibly some cultural topics that could be discussed using this film, but I would look for other possible films first.

Neil Young was a Miner for a Heart of Gold and Perhaps Found it in Spirited Away

Field of Interest/Specialty: Social Studies
Posted On: 01/12/2020
5

My 7 year old sister had chosen to purchase this movie in the early 2000's based on the cover art alone. As I was 14 at the time, I certainly enjoyed the movie, but on a very surface level. I've enjoyed sci-fi and fantasy stories for most of my life and this was a great addition to my 14 years young collection.
Fast forward 15 years later, my wife had never seen the movie and I had not watched it since my time in high school. I decided we should revisit it and see how she viewed it as an adult and how my understanding may have changed as my life experiences had shaped my own thoughts since I viewed it last.
First, please do yourself a favor and watch it in its native language with subtitles instead of the English dub. It is much more immersive and the actions of the characters match the speech far better. Additionally, the language adds atmosphere. You understand that this is not something from your childhood and the culture as a Western viewer is not something that you grew up with. However, it does force the viewer to have an open mind going forward. This will be foreign to you, but it's a glimpse of something new, not something to attached to your own constructs of how society works in their current geographic location.
Spirited Away is, at its essence, a fantasy story about a young girl, Chihiro and her journey of empathy. Her story begins with moving to a new house. This life changing event can be challenging for adults and children alike and spans generations. More recently Disney used it as a primary event in the movie Inside Out. Our heroine and her parents make a pit-stop to explore an old gate/tunnel. While exploring, they have entered a new world and her parents break some of the rules of the world they have entered. What follows is a magical adventure of a young girl who spends the movie growing up and taking responsibility for her actions. She enters a spirit world with set rules and with static characters. She befriends a boy named Haku who begins her adventure in the spirit world and sets Chihiro on a journey that no one could expect, least of all her.
Throughout her journey, she brings the human element and condition to the world she now inhabits. Others see her as making rash decisions, based not on her selfishness, but on her selflessness. She is an anomaly that some characters in the movie struggle to pin down. As the movie progresses, Chihiro makes friends along the way and helps them grow in their own story. She adds the possibility of growth and seeing outside the norm to them and eventually these growths result in a revelation, sharing with the viewer that the spirit world and the human world are interconnected and not as far apart as we think.
As Chihiro and her parents return to their world, she takes pieces of what she has learned with her. While her actions changed the world she just left, the viewer can also see that what she had experienced left a profound effect on Chihiro and we witnessed her own personal growth story. This story would be excellent for a social curriculum within an elementary school, showing how to use manners and being kind to others. At the same time, it could be very valuable to high school students when teaching about symbolism and the interconnectedness of spirits with our own world, the film would make a strong introduction or lesson culmination to Shintoism.
Spirited Away is a wonderfully fantastic film that reminds us that everyone is doing the best they can, and perhaps extending a kindness towards others, even the smallest act, is enough to change the course of events in the world. As my wife and I finished watching the film, we were reminded that the world is more interconnected today than ever before, but we seem to be growing further apart. Helping one another is sometimes how we get by and one person's actions can make all the difference in someone's life, and maybe even the world. Spirited away exemplifies wonderfully. Please find a friend or loved one and give this film two hours of your time.

Spirited

Field of Interest/Specialty: History
Posted On: 01/10/2020
5

Spirited Away Review

Field of Interest/Specialty: Asian Studies
Posted On: 01/22/2019
5

I chose to watch this movie because I have enjoyed Hayao Miyazaki films I have seen in the past, such as Ponyo and Howl's Moving Castle. I had never actually seen Spirited Away, his most celebrated work, though. Hayao Miyazaki films are definitely something that you have to go into with an open mind. Although his films are distributed by Disney, they are not the typical films you would associate with the company.
I Really enjoyed the film. The animation was stunning. I stuck to the screen almost the whole time. I love the use of a strong female lead to drive the story. They do a good job of making you feel for Chihiro. You are constantly rooting for her throughout the film. It is a film I would like to share a discuss with my 5th grade class. I'd love to see what they think and what they picked up on.

Spirited Away from a Kindergarten Teacher's perspective

Field of Interest/Specialty: General Education
Posted On: 01/12/2019
5

I have watched many Studio Ghibli films and Spirited Away is one of my favorites. The story is entertaining and the animation is beautiful. As a Kindergarten teacher looking for ways to introduce Asian cultures to my students, I would not be able to use this film in the classroom. I feel like I would have to pick and choose select scenes because some elements in this film would be frightening and confusing for my 5 and 6 year old students. In doing so, the plot of the story would be compromised greatly and I feel like that would do more harm than good. I would find another method to use in my Kindergarten classroom.
However, I feel like it would be appropriate for fifth graders and could be beneficial to those students by teaching them to stay true to themselves and to find their voice as they face the upcoming transition to middle school. The movie teaches about perseverance and integrity as well as maturing and finding your strengths - all of these are qualities that a fifth grader facing middle school will need.

Spirited Away Life Lessons

Field of Interest/Specialty: Spanish
Posted On: 01/14/2018
5

Janeth Kloc
Spanish
Pre-K—6th Grade
Cardinal Maida Academy
————————————————
We decided to pick the movie Spirited Away to watch for our family movie night. I have never watched any foreign films before and I wasn’t sure what to think the first time we watched this movie. It was interesting and fun to watch but I really didn’t pay that much attention to the baseline of the movie. So, we decided to watch it again and again. It seems like each time that we watched it there were more things made evident to us that the director was trying to point out. I have watched it three times and have realized that this movie even though it’s in cartoon form, that it is a great movie for children and even adults to watch to teach how easily greed and love can change people. Some pf the things that I believe that the director of this movie was trying to teach us about are love, honor, honesty, greed, independence and pollution.
From the very beginning of the movie it was apparent that Chihiro was a spoiled little brat and whined about everything and she had no manners or respect for her elders. Eventually as the movie went on it showed how Chihiro transformed form being a little greedy brat to an independent young lady who through her love and unselfishness transformed people and spirits.
The greed she showed at the beginning was what I think is due to lack of attention from her parents. The next evidence of greed was her parents showed when they seen all the foot when they went through the amusement park and started eating all the food that they could, and it turned them into pigs. Other would also follow suit with the showing of their greed and I am talking about the people in the bath house when No Face came into the bath house and all they wanted was the gold that he had to pass out and they would be consumed by their greed. In their world humans and spirits are greedy and greed is always destructive.
I think that one of the things that was very good was how they portrayed how our unselfishness can have a huge impact on others and can help transform them from their ways. For instance, when Chihiro refused to take gold from No Face and she took No Face with her on the train ride to Granny’s house even though, she put herself in danger she did it unselfishly to protect the people and spirits in the bath house.
The ending of this story leaves one not to wonder, but shows Chihiro’s final display of love and courageousness shows when she is put to the test of Yubaba and the deal was if she picks which pigs are her parents she would be permitted to leave the spirit world and go back to the real world.
This was a great movie to watch and learn from and I really enjoyed and was glad that my family had the chance to watch it with me.

Spirited Away and Modern Cultural Criticism

Field of Interest/Specialty: Librarian/Technology
Posted On: 01/03/2016
4

Kate Weber
PK-5 Librarian
Winchester Thurston School, North Hills Campus
Film Review—Miyazaki’s Spirited Away
I picked up Spirited Away because I was attracted to the animation, but I quickly became riveted by the metaphors and cultural criticism of society at large, in this case, modern Japan. That’s not something you can say about many American animation films—maybe there’s a lesson in the end, but nothing as scathing or poignant as the conclusions you can draw from Spirited Away. Maybe that’s because American animated movies are, for the most part, intended for audiences of children, whereas as this film clearly calls for an older audience. The movie is rated PG, and I found several scenes to be a little scary for younger audiences. I would show this movie to students in fifth grade and up, but believe it would be especially important to include in a high school Asian studies, religious studies, or popular culture curriculum.
The film starts like many children’s stories do: A ten year old girl named Chihiro and her parents are moving to a new neighborhood in the countryside. On their way there they get lost and wind up in an abandoned amusement park. Overwhelmed by hunger (and greed), her parents start eating the food they find there and quickly turn into pigs. Chihiro, desperate at this point to find help, flees and finds herself drawn into another world. This world includes a bathhouse for spirits, run by the evil witch Yubaba. Chihiro meets a friend named Haku who encourages her to get a job in the bathhouse in order to one day free her parents and return back to her own world.
Chihiro’s new world is filled with good and bad spirits, and upon closer inspection, this world provides a lens that one can use to analyze everything from Shinto, the native Japanese religion, to current events in modern Japanese society. This world that Miyazaki has created is filled with gods that play a role in Shinto. It is up to the viewer to decide what role these spirits play in the movie, and, consequently, how they parallel elements of contemporary Japanese society. For example, Chihiro’s parents might signify the greed and rampant consumerism that Miyazaki feels has replaced traditional Japanese values. The “No Face” spirit that seems drawn to Chihiro is driven crazy by the selfishness of others, and represents the hold of capitalism that has overtaken Japanese society. The filthy river spirit that comes in the bathhouse expecting to be cleaned might could be a metaphor for the widespread pollution that is another result of this greed. In this way, environmental concerns parallel this unease for the loss of the spiritual world.
Spirited Away would be an excellent starting point for discussions on all of these issues and more, making it an effective addition to a middle or high school curriculum. It’s accessible, entertaining, and poignant. It’s also an amazing study in the power of story and art, as Miyazaki himself wrote, directed, and drew this entire world. Even the background scenes tell a story of ancient Japanese architecture, proving that even in the smallest details there can be something to learn about a world that is so unfamiliar to most of us in the United States.

Spirited Away

Field of Interest/Specialty: Gifted Education
Posted On: 12/01/2015
4

Spirited Away
Rachel Duncan
Middle School – Gifted Enrichment
Spirited Away is a beautifully animated film about the adventures of a young girl named Chihiro, who finds herself swept away into a mysterious and surreal world filled with gods, witches, spirits and symbolism.
Chihiro and her parents become lost on the way to their new home and wander into a strange and spooky town. Her parents, when tempted with a large amount of unsupervised food, are transformed into pigs as she watches, helpless and scared. Eventually, Chihiro is forced to change her name and work as a servant in and around the bath houses featured in this strange new world in order to save her parents and return to her own world. During her time in this otherworldly realm, she befriends a River Spirit who sometimes takes the shape of a young boy and at other times embodies the form of a dragon. Chihiro ultimately finds inner strength, bravery, and kindness that allow her to save not only her parents, but herself, as well.
Spirited Away deals with many Japanese cultural concepts including religion, philosophy and mythology. It is appropriate for elementary and middle school levels studying Asian history, culture or even examples of anime.
The story is imaginative and the characters and animations endlessly unique and strange. The main characters are likeable - we become immersed with Chihiros adventures inside this bathhouse. The other characters she comes into contact with as she tries to save her parents and get back to the human world are both bizarre and beautiful. The animation gives it a real sense of cinematography, the drawings make the film stand out in a way that American animations rarely do.