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Spirited Away

Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2008 in Fantasy, Movies, Reviews

Spirited Away is a Japanese movie from 2001. Chihiro is a sullen, ten-year-old girl. She and her family are moving into a new house. Her dad chooses to take a shortcut, to the new residential area, and ends up getting lost.

Quite soon Chihiro gets a bad feeling about the trip, because she catches sight of some ugly, rather scary warning figures. But naturally her parents won’t listen to her. After all, she’s just a little girl.

They arrive at what looks like an abandoned amusement park. There’s a restaurant filled with meat. Chihiro’s parents begin to eat, declaring that they will pay later. But Chihiro refuses. She thinks everything is scary and ominous.

Before long, it gets dark and faceless spirits show up. Chihiro runs back to her parents, but can only find two big pigs.

She tries to run away from the spirits and ends up hiding, but meets a mysterious boy, Haku, who promises to help her. He gets her work in a bathhouse for spirits and gods. It’s quite a scary job, and the people are odd, but Chihiro struggles on. She has to find a way of saving her parents who are due to be slaughtered and turned into food at that restaurant. In other words, they must have eaten other people in the form of pigs.

That’s quite funny, actually. As a vegan, I wouldn’t have been the least bit tempted to try that meat and besides, whatever kind of food it was, I would never have eaten anything without paying. But I don’t know what kind of customs they have in Japan. On the other hand, it’s always possible there was some kind of magic involved, so the parents might not have been able to help themselves.

In any case, it’s a funny, exciting and fascinating movie. I’m quite new at Japanese animated movies, but this one and Howl’s Moving Castle appealed to me. Don’t expect it to be anything like the usual, western type of animated movie, which seems to be almost exclusively for very young children (pre-school age). On the other hand, Spirited Away doesn’t seem to be intended for your average grown up, but it’s definitely for teenagers and young adults and anyone who’s young at heart.

This movie isn’t full of blood, violence and brain matter, but it can be frightening for younger kids. Of course, that’s not who this movie is intended for. I liked it a lot. The fantasy- or fairy tale ambiance was something I appreciate a lot. It’s well drawn and well made in every way. I can really recommend it.

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