What They Say:
A young girl, Chihiro, finds herself trapped in a strange new world of spirits. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, she must call on the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world. An unforgettable story, brimming with creativity, Spirited Away will take you on a journey beyond your imagination.
The audio was good and stable. I watched the Japanese Dolby digital 5.1. The sound was well mixed and stable. Other options included languages in Japanese, English and French. Subtitles are provided in English for the hard of hearing, English original language version, French or off.
I watched the Blu-ray version and it was as expected, very good quality. Though I watched this movie over a decade ago on DVD and have little memory of the quality then, I feel that the animation was vivid and more memorable than previously.
This is a Blu-ray and DVD combo. It has a slip case that mirrors the interior front and back of the case. The front print is of Chihiro in her work clothes and the back has four still scenes from the movie. That interior print also has a scene on the back where Chihiro’s parents initially eat food on the “other side”. There is also a 12 page booklet printed on glossy paper with stills of the movie along with statements from the producer and director
The easy to navigate menu had a still scene of Chihiro while music played on repeat. Selections were play, set up and bonus.
Bonus features included: Feature length storyboards, behind the microphone, original theatrical trailers and TV spots.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Chihiro arrives in a new, smaller town with her family and isn’t happy at all. Her dad takes a wrong turn to their new house and ends up coming up to a small tunnel. As a family, they decide to see what’s on the other side. When they arrive on the other side they are met by a meadow with random buildings. Chihiro’s dad states that it’s abandoned amusement park. They walk further out on the other side when her dad smells something delicious. He follows his nose and they wander around an old street filled with long forgotten restaurants. However, one is open, and it’s filled with food, but no one seems to be working. Her parents dig in, but Chihiro is too scared to eat and goes exploring. She sees a building that seems to be fully operational and checks it out.
She meets a boy who warns her to leave before it gets dark and ushers her away. When she goes looking for parents, she finds them, but they’ve turned into pigs and don’t seem to recognize her and are only interested in eating. Not realizing the pigs are her family, she goes looking for her parents which is now full of spirts. When she tries to go back the way she came, she’s met with a large body of water with a bustling city full of lights. First, she thinks it’s a dream, but then realizes she’s fading away.
The boy finds her and forces her to eat something stating if she doesn’t she will fade away from his world. The boy, who seems to have some power of his own, takes her and flees from the spirits of the world. He brings her back to the bridge they met on and into the building she was interested in earlier. He tries to cast a spell on her, so they don’t know she’s human, but they are found out. He gives her directions to stay safe and states his name is Haku.
He tells her to find Kamaji and work for Yubaba, a sorceress. As long as she works, she will be safe. She meets Kamaji and initially ignores her plea to work. Someone comes in with dinner for Kamaji and the woman brings her to Yubaba and is told she has to sign a contract with her to keep working, which keeps the spell Haku put on her. As she goes through various close calls with other spirits or creatures, Chihiro finally makes it to Yubaba.
Yubaba tells her that her parents deserved to turn into pigs for eating her guests’ food. And that she would never go back. Over and over Chihiro begs to work. Finally, Yubaba agrees and gives her a contract and renames her as Sen. Haku shows up again, but he’s different than before and is also Yubaba’s apprentice. She ends up working with Lin as her assistant despite overall resistance of everyone.
Early the next morning, Haku tells her to meet at the bridge and he will bring Chihiro to her parents. She goes to meet him, but her parents have really turned into pigs. Haku states they don’t remember they were human, and this saddens her greatly. She realizes she too is forgetting things, like her name. He is kind to her and encourages her to eat and feel better. She does and decides to work hard again to find her way back home.
A stink spirit arrives to the baths where Sen works with Lin. She is on duty at the big tub and is forced to care for it. She bravely does what she is told despite the horrible odor. Not only does she do what she has to, she goes above and beyond for the guest with a little help from a friendly spirit that gave her numerous tags. She realizes a thorn is stuck in the guest and tries to dislodge it. Many get involved and help out. When the turn is removed a bunch of junk and garbage is released and the guest is not a stink spirit but is a guardian spirit and praises her for her work.
As time passes she’s afraid of forgetting her parents and she innately realizes that Haku is a dragon. Also, No Face, realizes that if he gives out gold people will do anything for him. He is very taken with Chihiro ad tires to win her affection, but she declines his generosity and he starts eating the staff. Chihiro, on the other hand, is very focused on helping Haku. She meets Yubaba’s sister and says that Haku stole something, a protection spell, from her. Still in dragon form, they get away and end up down with Kamaji. He says a strong spell that is eating him up from the inside. She gives him the gift from the guardian spirit that she intended to use for her parents and saves him. She vows to help Haku gain freedom. First, she has to deal with No Face.
Chihiro goes to see Zeniba, Yubaba’s sister, to try to make things right, but Yubaba is angry about the whole situation, yet Haku still negotiates that if he brings back her baby, Yubaba must let Chihiro and her parents go. Zeniba is more personable, but ultimately can’t help her. Chihiro admits that she feels like she knows Haku from a long time ago and she will have to figure things out for herself. Haku comes to get her and take them all back to Yubaba’s.
During their journey back, Chihiro remembers that she fell into a river called the Kohaku river and tells him his true name. With love and new memories, they return. Yubaba’s baby encourages her to let Chihiro and her parents go. The rule is that she must pick her parents out of a lot of pigs she brings forward. She guesses correctly that they aren’t there, and her contract is broken. She is free to go, but Haku can’t go with, but will go back home. She leaves and returns to her parents as if nothing happened at all.
It’s pretty hard to give a Miyazaki film a bad review, and this movie has always been one of my favorites. I watched this movie back in the day when Netflix still delivered DVDs via mail. So, it’s been awhile, and I had forgotten some of the scenes. I liked it then and I like it better now that I can appreciate it. I really enjoyed watching this classic again. Miyazaki sure gives the viewer a lot to think about while providing a beautifully animated story. If you haven’t watched this film, do yourself a favor, make a bowl of popcorn, get comfy on the couch and treat yourself.
This is the GKID’s release of the film. I don’t know the particulars of this license, but the content seems to be a duplicate the Disney version. I always put off buying the Disney versions due to cost, but this is relatively available and affordable. When I looked up an image for this review, I found it always at lower than the MRSP. So, if you are thinking of adding to your Miyazaki library, these versions are the way to do it.
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: SHOUT FACTORY/GKIDS
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation4 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p with Vizio sound bar with surround sound.