Spirited Away

As if you didn’t know, it’s the new record-smashing award-winning film from the god among anime, Hayao Miyazaki. You might remember that other recent flick from him, “Mononoke Hime” (or “Princess Mononoke” for those of you with only the memories of Billy Bob Thornton and Claire Danes massacring that beautiful work of art), which until “Spirited Away” was the biggest film ever in Japan. And then they dubbed it and waited a long ass fucking time, and released it on us poor American saps. This time, they’re not waiting a long time, but they are dubbing it.

Honestly, I didn’t know much about it, but thought there was no way he could top “Mononoke Hime.” From the poster, it looks like a weird movie about a girl and some pigs. Boy was I ever wrong.

Note: If you’re deathly allergic to spoilers, go elsewhere now while you can.

The movie starts with Chihiro, a 10 year old girl who is not happy about moving to a new crappy town with her parents. The father, trying to find their new home, ends up going up a desolate dirt mountain road, that ends at an odd looking tunnel within a building. Against Chihiro’s vehement warnings and fears, the parents’ curiosity wins out, and they abandon their car to explore the tunnel.

When they emerge, they are in a new but old building that leads to a large grassy field with small buildings in the background. Chihiro’s ever-wise parents (that’s sarcasm, folks) assess that it must be an abandoned amusement park. They explore more, until they enter the abandoned little village, and find delicious food sitting out at a small cafe. The parents pig out (You’ll get the joke in just a minute), while Chihiro explores the rest of the village. She gets to a bridge that leads to a palatial building. There, she sees Haku, a young boy of 12, who warns her that they all must leave before the sunset.

Suddenly, the bright afternoon turns to night, Chihiro runs back through the village, which is now filled with ghastly figures, and discovers her parents have, appropriately enough, turned into pigs. She tries to come back across the grassy field, to discover it has become a vast sea.

Stop right there. What the hellrr

This is when I realized that this little girl is exactly like I was at that age. Put into the same situation, I was horrified to realize that I would behave the same way. I’d like to think I’d be strong, and just jump into that damn sea and swim for the other side, or go back and start kicking some ghost ass. But I wouldn’t.

Chihiro is aided by Haku, who is a lot more than he seems in this world filled with monsters and witches and gods. He is a young apprentice to the witch who rules over the village, and much more. To keep her from turning into a pig and to help her save her parents, he helps her obtain a job in the bathhouse of the gods.

Stop again. Bathhouse of the godsr You’re kidding, rightr

Nope.

The place where Chihiro (who is now called Sen, since Chihiro is too grand, or so says Yubaba, the big-headed witch) works is the bathhouse of the gods. Thousands of gods come to relax and get their strength back. Pretty trippyr You bet.

Through many trials, Chihiro dives right into her new job, and through a disgusting and cringe-worthy first task, earns the respect of all of her peers.

But she’s not as strong as she wishes she could be. After Haku takes her to see her parents, she breaks down, crying, scared. Hell, wouldn’t your

It goes without saying that the animation is breathtaking and total eye-candy. The characters in this alternate world are rich and full of life. Even the characters you briefly glimpse will leave an impression on your mind that most films can’t establish with their heroes.

Sen/Chihiro’s quest to return home with her parents takes her to many levels of her own self, not to mention far off places. She befriends several other characters, including the oversized overprotected baby of the witch Yababa, who has been turned into a rat by Yababa’s good twin sister. And the No-Face spirit that only wants to be by Chihiro’s side. Not to mention of course Haku, who we discover has a deeper connection to Chihiro then either of them ever knew.

In these days of such drab and uninteresting films, watching “Spirited Away” gave me a much needed injection of hope. A film not only great for adults, but one that children will love as well. How often does this happenr

See this as soon as you can. See it in theatres. Send a message to Disney that Americans want anime, and they want it now!

This has been an over-excited rant by Long Island Lolita.

Rating: A+
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