Friday, June 19, 2015
Studio Ghibli's 'Spirited Away' Is a Magical Adventure
Just to get this out of the way right now — we love Hayao Miyazaki!
So getting the chance to review the renowned (and now retired) Japanese animation director and writer's Oscar-winning film "Spirited Away" was really a no-brainer. I've wanted to see this movie — and show it to CC — since we fell in love with "Ponyo" back when my little girl was a mere toddler.
"Spirited Away," produced by the famed Studio Ghibli, was released in the U.S. in 2003. The film, along with another Studio Ghibli release, "The Cat Returns," arrived this week on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.
Because "Spirited Away" centers on a young girl (voiced by Daveigh Chase), I knew that would instantly captivate CC, who loves seeing young heroines on the big screen. From the moment the film started, she was riveted — and so was Will, who is still 2.
The young girl, 10-year-old Chihiro, moves to the countryside with her parents (Lauren Holly and Michael Chiklis), and she's not happy about it. When her father takes a wrong turn down a lonely road, the family discovers an abandoned amusement park and decides to explore.
Chihiro isn't so sure about this decision.
What they find is a mysterious, abandoned faux city with empty facades and streets. When Chihiro's parents find a storefront with a bounty of food, they sit down to eat ... and eat and eat. Chihiro goes to explore and is surprised to come back and find her parents have been turned into pigs. Yes, slovenly, overeating pigs.
Chihiro must then find a way to save her parents, and that involves exploring this mysterious world even further. She discovers that this sometimes magical, sometimes menacing place is filled with spirits and otherworldly creatures, all of whom like to relax at a bathhouse where she eventually gets a job.
She is befriended by a boy named Haku (Jason Marsden), who is her guide through this ordeal.
There were definitely some moments when I wondered if CC — or Will for that matter — would be scared. There are monsters. They vomit, ooze and even swallow other creatures. There's even a moment when Haku, who turns into a dragon, is attacked by paper birds and arrives at the main bathhouse covered in blood.
None of that phased my children.
They were both eager to follow Chihiro on her journey and to see how she would make it out the other side, with her parents in tow.
While we didn't get the chance to see "The Cat Returns," the story follows a schoolgirl (voiced by Anne Hathaway) who's bored by her day-to-day routine but suddenly finds her world turned upside down when she finds a mysterious cat.
That will definitely have to be our next Miyazaki experience!