Wow! I mean…wow! A movie hasn’t amazed and delighted me like this movie has in years! I don’t even know where to begin in praising this movie; I don’t even know how to begin talking about this epic from Studio Ghibli.
The film is about a young girl named Chihiro, voiced by Daveigh Chase in the English version, who’s moving to a new house with her mother and father. Like all young kids, she’s scared of the move and of anything strange/new.
While driving to their new home, Chihiro’s parents take a detour to explore what appears to be an abandoned theme park where they readily marvel at the abandoned buildings and indulge in the eateries.
Chihiro feels that they should leave as she senses that they shouldn’t be there. And how right she is! Because as night falls, the theme park turns into an area visited by all kinds of creatively animated and haunting spirits.
Not only that, but her parents get transformed into pigs!
Frightened out of her life, Chihiro is encouraged by another human who appears out of nowhere named Haku, voiced by Jason Marsden in the English version, to take a job working in the “spirit bathhouse”. The bathhouse is run by a witch named Yubaba, voiced by Suzanne Pleshette (in her last film role) in the English version.
Yubaba also is the one who’s transformed Chihiro’s parents into pigs. So while working for her, Chihiro tries to find a way to free her parents all while meeting new friends, getting over her fears, and maturing out of her state of innocence. There’s so much more to this film, but I can’t give more than this away…in fact, I fear that I’ve given too much away already!
What can I say about this film? It is a masterpiece! At its center, it’s a coming-of-age story that’s so beautifully told. We see Chihiro as she “suffers” in the bathhouse; we see her as she gets scared with every step of the way through her journey; we see her as she conquers her fears and matures into a brave, young girl.
This film is also beautifully animated. The animation is gorgeous and the characters are so tremendously creative!
Also, this film is jam-packed with plot and subplots that all connect and intertwine with each other, yet manages to balance them all out and not overcram the movie with too much plot. That’s an incredibly hard task for any movie to accomplish, but this one does it magnificently!
I’m not really a fan of anime. In fact, the only anime-related things I’ve watched were 4 other Studio Ghibli films (“Ponyo”, “The Secret World of Arrietty”, “Castle in the Sky”, and “Kiki’s Delivery Service”) and “Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland” (if that counts as an anime). So I’m EXTREMELY glad that I forced myself to watch this film! This is definitely Hayao Miyazaki’s magnum opus, at least from the films of his that I’ve seen, but I strongly doubt any other film of his can top this one!
I can totally see why everyone loves this film. This isn’t just one of my favorite animated films ever, rather this is one of my favorite films ever! If you haven’t seen this film yet, I DOUBLE-DOG DARE you to watch it today! It’s a DOUBLE-DOG DARE, so you can’t ignore it!