The Academy Award winning animated film Spirited Away is considered to be Hayao Miyazaki’s pinnacle work. Like many of his works, Spirited Away did not have a script, but Miyazaki did write, direct, and provide the storyboards as he went along with the film. It is about a 10-year old named Chihiro (voiced by Daveigh Chase, Lilo from Lilo and Stitch) and how she is trapped in the Spirit World with her parents and must save them and escape back to the human world. It is the most successful film in Japanese film history, and Chihiro is considered one of the strongest heroines ever depicted. Newly remastered, the film is now available on Blu-ray for you to take home and share with your family.
The Blu-ray contains the same Bonus features that were available on the 2003 DVD release. In addition to the original Trailers and TV spots, these are:
Introduction By John Lasseter has (surprise) John Lasseter introducing the viewer to the movie. And how he feels it’s Miyazaki’s greatest work, and how great it is that the viewer is getting to watch and enjoy the film.
In The Art Of Spirited Away Jason Marsden (Haku) is the narrator, carrying us through the elements of the film. In this Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Glen Keane, Pam Coats and others talk about the origins of these elements. How Chihiro is based on a real 10-year old girl from Miyazaki’s life or how scenes like the river cleansing are based on his own real life events. A note is taken to the little details that Miyazaki includes that other animators might otherwise ignore. There is a a lot of discussion about how all his films include a flying scene. They then talk about how cultural differences made adapting the script from Japanese challenging at times, including a mistaking of the “Golden Seal” for being the animal “Seal”.
Behind the Microphone shows the voice actors going through the process of having to synchronize their voice work to the existing film. And how each actor was able to bring to lie their roles. One important part of creating the English for the movie was that despite that it needed to be changed to suit American audiences, that it also needed to still capture the essence of Miyazaki’s storytelling.
Original Japanese Storyboards is a condensed version of the film where instead of animation we’re presented with Miyazaki’s storyboards for the film.
Nippon Television Special is a piece in Japanese with English subtitles. It covers much of the same content as in the other pieces, but with a more cultural point of view. It is also about the original creation of the film in Japan, and has nothing about the English version.
It’s hard to properly convey how good this film actually is, and how perfectly suited for all audiences it really is. Please be aware some of the themes depicted in the film are a bit complex and may require some conversation with younger audiences. Chihiro is a strong heroine who goes through a huge amount of growth during the course of the film. As with most of Miyazaki’s film this is a coming of age film, and it’s fantasy elements, great humor, and general fun are what make it so good. If you’re at all interested in this film, then it’s truly a must see.