Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Anime movie review- Spirited away

Spirited away is a two hour long animation movie by oscar winning director Hayao Miyazaki. It beat Titanic in the box office to become the highest grossing japanese movie of all time. It won the Oscar for the best animation movie and is the only anime to achieve this feat. It also won the Golden bear award at the Berlin international film festival. Hayao Miyazaki is a famous anime director in Japan and almost all japanese recommend his films to others.

The movie doesn't have much story. It chronicles the adventures of Chihiro, an elementary school student who is shifting out of her house. Her father and mother drive her through the forest where they get lost. They encounter a strange gate and decide to go in. The gate leads to a ghost town full of food shops and a large bathhouse and river. Her parents are hungry. They spot a food shop filled with delicious food. There is no one in the shop so, they decide to start eating on their own. Chihiro doesn't eat because she is scared of the ghost town. As night falls, all the shops light up and spirits and monsters begin to appear in those houses. Chihiro discovers that her parents have turned into pigs and have been taken to the piggery. She meets a boy, Haku, who helps her. She gets a job for herself at a bath house. Yubaba, the stingy owner of the bath house is the main antagonist of the story. Chihiro has some adventures at the bath house. She later meets a spirit and takes a train to Yubaba's sister. In the end, she gets to go back to the human world and her parents are set free.

What was really striking about Spirited away was the beautiful backdrops. The lavish use of red, yellow and chinese and japanese traditional settings is a feast for the eyes. But the monsters and even some human characters like Yubaba looked grotesque. They were an eye sore. That balanced the visuals, I guess. There is heavy use of japanese traditional concepts like bath house, dragons, ramen and old style houses.

The movie didn't have much story but carried on in an interesting way. It shows the imagination of a child and of Hayao Miyazaki. It strikes the viewer as something very imaginative and constantly changing. It is fit for younger audience.
There is some amount of conflict in the story because Chihiro is dumped into an unknown world and has to work her way up. The movie maintained a lull and mysterious atmosphere throughout. The scenes (places) looked real. I almost felt like I was at the bath house. The movie was long but well plotted so, it was not boring. Fantasy elements are dominant in the story. Some amount of character development is seen in the story.

There were obvious cons too. Miyazaki's character deisgns are not very good. They are not as detailed and realistic or beautiful as his backgrounds. This is a problem I find with all his anime. The movie lacked storyline and was not well plotted. It can be summarised in one line as 'adventures of a girl in a spirit world'. There weren't many twists and turns but I guess it is all right considering the movie's target audience. Another big con was the grotesque characters. While monsters should look bad, Yubaba and the other monsters looked repulsive. Its atmosphere was dark considering the fact that it was a children's anime. I like Joe Hisaishi's music but I couldn't hear any in the anime. There was an orchestra version of 'Incohi no namae' in the beginning but after that, no prominent piece was played. I didn't hear 'Inochi no namae' in the movie.

Overall, the film was good through surreal and dark. It is imaginative. I can't decide whether it deserved the Oscar or not. It is one of the good movies for children. Kids should definitely watch this as it encourages creativity. Adults can enjoy this movie too mainly due to the dark atmosphere.

Art- 4.3/5
Music- 4.1/5




Character design
Character personalities
Lack of story line

1 comment:

  1. you're wrong. the point is that miyazaki creates a work which succeeds in having no story line. you get attached to characters that have been present for seconds and love every moment of it