Review of Spirited Away (2001)

Moving picture, 125 minutes

Suzuki Toshio (producer), Miyazaki Hayao (writer-director).

A ten-year-old strays into the land of Japan’s gods, where humans are unwanted guests or worse.

Modern-day fantasy with heavy mythological influences. Lots of metamorphosis. Like Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), this falls into a trap of frivolity and self-contradiction eroding basic believability, despite the first-class execution. Kaonashi as a counterfeiter recalls the man from Echigo in The Life of Oharu (1952). I had to watch it two whole times before I understood that Kaonashi sounds weird because it talks with the voice of what it eats, which is just me being dumb. Partially based on a book.

References here: Ghibli movie titles, “Mei and the Kitten Bus” (2002), The Cat Returns (2002), Thank You, Mr. Lasseter (2003), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Tales from Earthsea (2006), Over the Garden Wall (2014), Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017), A Whisker Away (2020).

animation fiction Ghibli Japanese production moving picture