Spirited Away

There is no better film to introduce oneself into Japanese anime than Hayao Miyazakis’ Spirited Away. The first time I saw this film, I instantly noticed the similarities between it and Alice in Wonderland. That means that the film is filled with themes of being on your own. This film is often overlooked in terms of its thematic brilliance, because of its stunning visuals, but the motifs and symbols in this film are really what make it great. One thing that I noticed this time I saw the film was how Chihiro is wearing the headband that Zeniba made for her when she walks off with her parents at the end. This shows how that even though her parents have no recollection of it, Chihiro went on an incredible adventure. Going back to the “being on your own” theme, when Chihiro first enters this new strange world, she is utterly on her own. Her parents are turned to pigs, and she is still able to rise above this and eventually save her parents and escape. I think Spirited Away is really a tale of resilience and adventure in its purest form.

Another difference I noticed from the first time I had seen this film was the stunning animation. I remember it being fine, but considering the film is hand-drawn animation, the image of the film is flawless. The motion is always in sync, and the film just looks better than most other animation I have seen.

All in all, Spirited Away is a tale of pure adventure and fun. It will blow you off your feet and make you feel like a kid again with its themes of self-reliance, resilience, and confidence. These themes are easy for viewers to identify with, and maybe that’s why everyone seems to love Spirited Away, oh and don’t forget the stunning animation.



Hugo, the inspirational tale of an orphaned child who attempts to unravel a great mystery in order to give closure and to connect with his late father, is most well known for its huge budget and masterful use of special effects. However, the film does in fact delve into older special effect techniques, as an homage to Georges Melies. For example, the train crash, as we watched, was done through a model, and the automaton was not done through effects, it was actually made. There’s always something interesting about a Martin Scorsese movie, and when it comes to Hugo, the topic of discussion is the marvelous style that the movie has through its special effects and cinematography. In my opinion, the film is   style over substance, and apart from the effects, it doesn’t really wow me. The acting and character progression, in particular, were two plot elements that I think could have been done better. Hugo and Isabelle were annoying and not likable, and the comic relief that the train inspector provided was unnecessary. The progression of the characters was also confusing. Isabelle and Hugo become best friends instantly, and seemingly for no reason. Georges Melies and his wife are the only interesting characters. The sequence where Melies explains his movie making career, and all of his previous works are shown on screen, is probably the best part of the entire film. The tinting of Melies’ old movies combined with the narration Melies provides makes this scene one of the most rememberable scenes, too. It is the most colorful part of the film, and it doesn’t even use CGI. From start to finish, Hugo is a decent film. It provides most of what an audience is looking for in excitement, fun, and a stylistic edge. however, It lacks the substance of a great film.

A Spirited Analysis

Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is a wonderful piece of Japanese animation, and truly in animation in general, that exudes and exhibits the creative mind that created it.

The animation is top notch and the visuals breathtaking. Most notable is the fact that majority of the film is hand-drawn with added digital effects. Through multiple techniques of shading, shaping, lighting, and movements, the animation is very life-like and believable with highly detailed and elaborate backgrounds and smooth movements. An astounding trait as much of the characters and visuals are so fantasy-driven, from Yubaba’s and Zeniba’s bulbous head, the colorful palette and form of spa house staff and customers, to Haku’s stoic look and dragon form, and of course No-Face’s deep and meaningful expressions.

Characters are varied and lively – almost eccentric – with a plethora of traits that brings the audience to enjoy their presence. Even the protagonist Chihiro, while altogether quite unassuming and plain, makes up for in her sheer character and progression of character.

The underlying tones and themes really stand out from the onscreen visuals. From the ravenous hunger of Chihiro’s parents and turning into pigs, to Yubaba’s and her staff’s most evident greed. Greed and Overindulgence leads to severe consequences, the search of purpose from No-Face,  or the want of home from Chihiro.

Spirited Away is a mesmerizing and timeless animated film that stands out in its visuals, characters, and themes.

Spirited Away

This was my second time watching Spirited Away, and it was even better the second time. I was able to conceptualize the ideas and themes a lot better because I had gotten over the amazement of how intricate and well done the animations are.

Something that interested me throughout the film was thinking about how young Chihiro is and how impressive the things are that she is managing to do to save her family. When reading the interview with Hayao Miyazaki, he answered a lot of the questions that were going through my head. A quote that particularly got my attention was: “This is the fault of adults; it’s adults who are in the wrong shape. Children are just mirrors, so no wonder they are in the wrong shape.” He clearly put a lot of thought into the deeper meanings of this film and it was definitely evident while watching it.

This is one of the few animated films I’ve seen and I was impressed to say the least. This hand-drawn animation really makes the possibilities limitless in terms of imagination and creativity. The bathhouse’s characters were so diverse and so unique that it really caught the viewers’ attention just simply trying to understand what the characters even were. Something else that was consistently impressive was all of the establishing shots. They were all extremely detailed and showed elaborate and quite beautiful landscapes and architecture, even though they aren’t even real places. The somewhat realistic feeling of the animation made the film seem a little bit more realistic despite how imaginative the actual plot line and characters are.

Overall, I found this to be a very quality film all-around. There was a classic underlying storyline about a young girl willing to do anything for “love,” but with a very very interesting and new twist.

Week 13: Spirited Away

This was the first Anime film I have seen, and it did not disappoint. Although I thought that much of the movie was eccentric and somewhat disturbing, I only thought so because it is unlike any film that I’ve ever seen before, and that is what makes this movie memorable.

              What stands out to me in this film was the underlying messages and morals that this movie presents. It is symbolic of a young girl who finds her courage, strength, and perseverance to overcome all obstacles while staying true to herself. This makes the film enjoyable for not only children, but adults as well. Another theme in the movie was selfishness and greed, as the people only gave No-Face what he wanted so he would give them gold. It also emphasizes Chihiro’s kind and unselfish heart, as she didn’t want any of the gold offered to her.

                The animation was incredible, the boldness of color, the way the light created shadows and highlighted the scenes, everything blended perfectly. There was so much detail and precision of the scenery in this film that made you feel as if you were actually in that world.

                The eccentric characters had very bold personalities in this film, and one can really get a clear picture of the character’s value and demeanor. For instance, it was immediately apparent that Yubaba was very selfish and only cared about gold and money. She didn’t care if someone got in harm’s way as long as she got what she wanted. Even No-face, who hardly spoke in the film, had a personality that stood out. All he wanted to do was please Chihiro, and he did whatever it took to make her happy, offering her gold and help when she needed it.

Spirited Away

Spirited Away is a spectacular Japanese anime film that centers around the importance of love and staying true to oneself. These themes are extremely common of Japanese motion pictures, as they tend to go off the idea of avoiding solitude. In an attempt to not loose those she truly cares about, Chihiro sets out to save her parents. She is willing to do whatever it takes to turn them back into human beings. She earns the archetypal role of a hero as she overcomes all odds, breaking the powerful spells placed on both her parents and Haku by Yubaba.

The aesthetics of Japanese anime is very distinct. Spirited Away utilizes the art of hand animation. The intricacies of the drawings are impeccable as they give such attention to detail. For instance, as Chihiro is traveling on the train her profile is shown as she stares toward the front of the train and her reflection is shown on the window, along with the glistening water in the background. The preciseness of the drawings place even more emphasis on each aspect.

The lighting and incorporation of creatures in this film gives it the feel of a film of the genre fantasy. The soft edges give it a fanciful feeling that is commonly associated with fantasy films. The lighting is extremely superficial as the film demonstrates a stark difference from daytime to nighttime. It is used to emphasize the mood of the film. Creatures are yet another typical aspect of anime that is found in Spirited Away. These creatures consist of animals, humans, a combination of the two, and made up beings. The creatures work to criticize humans and their greedy, materialistic mentalities. This is extremely evident as the lust for gold in the bathhouse leads to the downfall of individuals. It clearly shows how people loose sight of who they are and what they will do for material things.

Spirited Away

Attempt at snarky title on temporary leave.

It’s been said by critics, audiences, and people who finished their blog before me, that Spirited Away is a great film. And I agree. The animation bright and detailed, the story engaging, and the themes emotional all make for a great film.

The animation was by far and away the best part of the picture, which is why it was chosen as our featured film for the animation techniques. The film makes great usage of CG Scenes, utilising them for difficult movement, like waves, to conserving the two dimensional door to Zeniba’s, yet remains largely out of the way for most of the film, eschewing the computer generated animation for a hand detailed photo. The setting of a supernatural bath house only aids the hand drawn imagery of swooping arches and colourful bath house construction. This bright palette is a noticeable difference from the bland modern world, and gives Yubaba’s domain that otherworldly distinction from (Um, Sen)’s own world.

The animation lends itself to the fairytale story, full of larger than life characters and more obvious fairytale tropes, like magic. Anomalously to fairytales, there are no real villains. Yubaba loves her son (she gets around to it eventually), the initially ominous Zeniba is a sweet old grandma, and No-Face was bad only because of the Bath House (I still don’t trust him, he’s creepy). But classically, the main character learns some moral lesson, and ends on a happy note.

Spirited Away

Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is truly a masterpiece. From its masterful skill in animation to its beautiful storyline, the film captivates both the minds and hearts of its audience. A coming of age story, Spirited Away shows its viewers how to find inner strength and courage through the eyes of a young girl. The plot follows a bildungsroman model of Chihiro as she learns to become independent of her family, gets a job and eventually falls in love. All be it anime, the film relates to audiences of all ages because every person at some point has to grow up. However, the film teaches the audience that although they grow up, they will always have their imagination. Although the film leaves it open as to if Chihiro will ever see Hako and the strange world again, the audience understands that what is most important is following your heart.

Whether hand drawn or computer animated, the setting and eccentric characters make Spirited Away truly mesmerizing. It is the attention to detail that makes the film seem so realistic. For example, the shadows add texture to the settings to the point that fools the eyes of the audience. Personally, I was amazed by the art behind the drawings of No Face as he is certainly one of the most visually memorable characters in the film.

Besides the film’s ultimate message of following your heart and finding inner strength, particular themes also played a role throughout the film, especially in a couple of characters. For example, the parents turning into pigs and No Face becoming ridiculously large heed the warning of overindulgence. Another theme to notice in the film is the way the workers of the bathhouse responded to No Face’s gold, especially those who let their guard down and were eaten. No matter the theme that influenced them the most, the film leaves the audience breathless. Ultimately, Spirited Away is an enchanting film that truly lifts the spirits of those who watch it.

Spirited Away

Spirited Away was so creative and beautiful, it took my breath away. This is the second time I watched the film, and I can hardly believe that the story was drawn by hand. When watching Spirited Away, somehow live films disappointed me. Animation brings you to a whole new world that is not limited by the physical setting of a studio or acting of the cast.

When thinking of an animation, some more mature audiences believe that it is for little children and should not be touched by the older generation. Yet, Spirited Away is a film that breaks out of the children film label and instead brings mature audiences to the creativity and imagination that adult films seem to lack.

As said before, Spirited Away perfected animation in a way unimaginable. The two dimensional characters popped out of the film with the vibrant colors. The lighting, shadowing, background is done with no inconsistencies. The film looks like someone took a camera to their world and just filmed it live, with panning of the camera and use of similar techniques that would be applied to live action films.

There is a mix of hand drawing and computer effects in this animation. The clouds and the sky does not really look like the rest of the world that is drawn, but they still fit perfectly. Miyazaki bases his work mostly on hand drawn pictures, but it is so time consuming that computers definitely help with some graphic effects and the use of cels.

In a way, these movies inspires young children to not give up and be like the courageous Chihiro. It also inspires adults to continue to imagine, as with age we tend to lose some creativity. Overall, the movie was an inspiration as well as entertaining. Keep it coming, Studio Ghibli!

Blog Assignment Week 13

Spirited Away is both thematically refreshing and visually dynamic in so many ways. Instead of the classic strong, adult male or female lead we see in so many films, the central character in this film is an ordinary young girl with no special abilities. While most films today value a lead character that is special or different in some way, Spirited Away instead places a totally commonplace girl in a totally imaginary and magical world. Chihiro starts the film as a normal, whiny child, but following the life-changing experience in which she had to take responsibility and save her family, she is more appreciative and reflective on her life.
The animation in the film is simply flawless. Deciding to do hand drawn illustrations is an extremely taxing and time consuming undertaking for filmmakers, but the use of cels and some computer animation takes some of the weight off. The hand drawn characters and their stiff movements are true to other Japanese animation, but integrating computer animation shows how animated films are moving into the future.
Overall, Spirited Away takes on several underlying messages, but they are not the most central focus of the movie. First of these is that Chihiro’s parents gorge themselves on food and subsequently get turned into pigs. This seems to be an offhanded commentary on how overindulgence and laziness takes away people’s humanity and reflects more animalistic traits. Also, greed plays into the parents being turned into pigs to some degree, but the subtle message about greed is much more evident in the No-Face episode. No-Face simply wants companionship and while he gives away gold to the workers in the bathhouse, they are all helpful and kind to him. As soon as he gets out of control and stops offering gold, the workers all flee from him, causing No-Face to become angry and start destroying things. Both of these somewhat subliminal messages reflect how greed and overindulgence generate not so pleasant results, and that hard work and self-control are important to success.