Spirited Away

If you read the post pertaining to Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke (Canada, USA, Europe), then you are aware that Spirited Away also topped my friend Émilie's list of best animated features of all time. Moreover, Spirited Away was supposed to be an even better movie.

So when I finally left that restaurant after a nice dinner with my co-workers last night, I headed on out to another video store, hoping that they carried Spirited Away. To my surprise, not only did they have a copy of the film, but I was also able to score a copy of Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. I was a happy camper, to say the least!

Did a little background check before watching it, and Spirited Away received even more accolades than Princess Mononoke. First of all, the film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the only non-English animation to ever win an Oscar. With revenues in excess of US$ 300 million, it became the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, surpassing Titanic. In addition, Spirited Away was the first international film to earn US$ 200 million worldwide before opening in the USA.

What I expected was to see one of the very best animated features to ever be produced. What I saw was perhaps the very best animated feature ever. Visually beautiful, Hayao Miyazaki created a magical and whimsical world that delighted me from start to finish.

It was pure joy to follow young Chihiro's journey, which at times makes you reminisce about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Haku, Yubaba, Kamajii, Lin, No Face, and the others comprise what turned out to be a wonderful cast of secondary characters.

Once again, Joe Hisaishi's soundtrack captures the mood perfectly, especially the early piano parts. To put it simply, Spirited Away is about as good as it gets! If you are looking for movies to rent this weekend, make sure that both Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are at the top of your list! Here are the two trailers to pique your curiosity:

The only thing that sucks is that I guess I've seen the two best ones out there. . . But they were quite a ride!

For more info about Spirited Away: Canada, USA, Europe

22 commentaires:

Jeff said...

Great to see you're really getting into it, Pat! Although, I think your mind is set to movie only anime, you should give series of anime a chance too. It's not for everyone to enjoy 50x20min of film so be careful what you pick first. I will just put up my recommndations:

-Full Metal Alchemist
-Serei No Moribito ( Oh the Joy!)
-Twelve Kingdoms (this was already mentioned as manga in the comments of your previous post but it's a great anime too)
-Black Lagoon (never saw such character development)

And "The Place Promised in our early Days" is really short so be sure to give that a try.

Finn Arne Jørgensen said...

Oh, you still have some good Miyazaki movies left. Nausicaa is great, and My Neighbor Totoro is simply fantastic. Many of the other ones are great fun too. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I liked Nausicaa better

Jamie said...

My Neighbor Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle are both amazing as well.

Adam Skinner said...

I loved Spirited Away.

But there are a ton of movies out there; depending on your tastes (rather than depending on the aggregate tastes of others) you may find titles like 'Sword of the Stranger' or 'Paprika' more enjoyable. There's also '5cm per Second' and 'My Neighbor Totoro' (similar in many ways to Spirited Away).

Here's a list of top anime movies.

Jeff said...

There is an unimaginable love I feel for 5 CM Per Second. It really is one of the most moving pieces of movie. I failed to explain this in my last posts, but above all watch this. Tell it to your anime crazy friend, who undoubtedly, has already seen it. Your friend will convey to you that this is a piece of art which should not be watched alone. Heartbreaking. Truly.

Anonymous said...


I'm partial to Castle in the Sky but listen/watch it in Japanese with the English subtitles, the vehicle noise and sound is the best that way, especially the big airship towards the beginning of the movie.


Jebus said...

I've only ever really liked Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Miyazaki films just don't grab me for some reason and neither does modern anime series. Spirited Away I'v seen in both the Japanese and Dubbed versions and just... I dunno... just didn't quite like it.

There was one a couple years ago about some street kids that I really quite enjoyed but it wasn't typical anime (forget its name), also recently saw The Skycrawlers where I almost vomited it was so bad, actually left the cinema early I hated it that much.

Meh, I guess it ain't for everyone.

Benny Day said...

I agree with Jeff in that "Place Promised in our early Days" is very impressive. These are all older flicks though. I think the best movies in the last few of years have been "Tekkonkinkreet"- surreal and very dark- and "The girl who leapt through time"- which is just a fantastic story.

Unknown said...

T'en fait pas! T'as pas encore vu Nausicaä et Castle in the Sky, c'est probablement les deux meilleurs, comme je disais hier. Ils sont encore plus épiques et vraiment magiques.

Et pogne-toi le manga de Nausicaä, tu le regretteras pas. :)

Antiquated Vagaries said...

Pat, I love Spirited Away. It's my favorite as well, both because it is so visually striking and most especially because of the whimsy.

Glad you liked it. I'm anxious to see Ponyo.

Anrake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dawfydd said...

From personal experience, there are still a few great Miyazaki movies left for you: Castle In The Sky (Laputa) offers steampunk skypirates and a barmy interpretation of a Welsh mining village. Castle Of Cogliostro takes the prize for anime film that is the most sheer FUN. I've (shamefully) not experienced Totoro, but it is supposed to be ace :)

Anonymous said...

I'd once again agree with Jeff with what he says about 5cm per Second. It is just the most amazingly beautiful film.

And once again I'll bang the drum for My Neighbour Totoro being the best Miyazaki film. Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky are close behind.

Also, sticking to Studio Ghibli but a non-Miyazaki film, there's Grave of the Fireflies. Now this one will probably split opinion. It's not a fun and happy film, it is in fact heartwrenching and deeply sad, but ever there was an anime film that you HAD to see it's this one.

By the way... watch this wonderful AMV for a host of clips from many Ghibli films...



Mimouille said...

You cannot be serious by thinking you're done with Miyazaki with only these two...like many have mentioned, Nausicaa, Totoro, Laputa, Castle of Caglistro...and one of my favorites, Pompoko, just the funniest ever, with shape shifting raccoons all over. There are still more...
And as mentionned previously, other Ghibli films from Isao Takahata are also great : Grave of the Fireflies, Porco Rosso (so good), etc.

Anonymous said...

Porco Rosso is Miyazaki.

Unknown said...

Pat, you have not seen the greatest of Miyazaki's yet. Watch Porco Rosso. It's his masterpiece IMO

sathish said...


nausicaa, laputa castle in the sky, kiki's delivery service and porco rosso are also in the same league(if not better in my opinion).

I have not seen totoro - but, quite a few folks consider that has miyazaki's best.

Anonymous said...

"The only thing that sucks is that I guess I've seen the two best ones out there"

Even though one could bring many insertions in the way of objectively also very, very good features on this level, from the pure enjoyment, surprise and (near) perfection, these movies are in fact unequalled in my experience, although I don't think constantly about them.

Nausicaä is a mixed bag concerning the movie version. Some like it a great deal more for the inventiveness of the environment alone. But the movie is one of the wweakest in Miyazaki's career. The manga, however, is one of his major accomplishments even.

But there are other extremely enjoyable movies by him. The Castle in the Clouds (not to be mistaken for Howl's Moving Castle) is a mostly enjoyable adventure. Kiki's Delivery Service is a perfect entertainer despite the childish appearance.
Porco Rosso is about a pilot in the early 20th century in the mediterranean sea and is is a great romance in the way Casablance. One might also be reminded of Hemingway, and one scene is directly inspired by Roald Dahl. It's imperfect, but the atmosphere makes it a rare treasure.

Castle of Cagliostro I haven't seen but the atmosphere seems to be equally romantic although it's a fun ride in the way of classic Bond movies.

Totoro, of course, is a classic. I've only seen parts, I'm afraid. I may be old too old for this, but I still admire what I've seen.

Simeon said...

You should definitely see Nausicaa. It's the "original" Princess Mononoke, meaning that it's the template on which the second one is based. And in my opinion it's way superior. It's at second place in my Studio Ghibli chart.

Then again, it's true that most of anime's greatest production is tv shows and not movies. "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex", "Neon Genesis Evangelion", "Death Note", "Fullmetal Alchemist" and of course the immortal masterpieces "Berserk" (you, being a fan of Martin, will especially like this one) and "Cowboy Bebop" (four words - space, western, jazz, style). Of those only GitS: SAC and FMA are 50 episodes. The rest are shorter.

If you're set on movies though, the "must-see" for anyone who wishes to have at least basic understanding of the genre are:


Ghost in the Shell (NOT the 2.0 version, but the 1995 original)

Ghost in the Shell: Innocence


Everything with the name "Ghibli" on it, but ESPECIALLY My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies & Porco Rosso

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (one of my favorite actually - postapocalyptic vampire epic fantasy/SF with the most gorgeous animation in existence)

preferably in this order.

If you ask for more specific titles, I'd be more able to help you though. Think of what you want to see, and I can pretty much find you an anime on the topic. If you're interested of course.

Patrick said...

Thank you guys for all the recommendations! I was pleased to find out that most of your suggestions and Émilie's overlap, but there are a few differences here and there.

In any event, these recs should keep me occupied for a while!;-)

Jebus said...

Tekkonkinkreet! That's the one. LOVED that film.