Spirited Away on DVD – The DVDfever Review

Spirited Away

Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, has to be one of the best – if not the best ever animated movie of all time. So if, by some quirk of fate, this masterpiece happens to have passed you by – then do something about that forthwith. This really is a must-see animation for all fans of the genre.

In fact, Spirited Away is the single most successful Japanese movie of all time. This is cinematic art at its best. This was Miyazaki’s eighth feature-length animation and it does what it says on the tin – spiriting you away into a world of your imagination.

Spirited Away tells the story of a little girl, Chihiro, who is on her way to the new family home with the other members of her family. But along the way, Chihiro’s parents Akio and Yugo take an unplanned detour to what would appear to be a long-abandoned amusement park with a mysterious tunnel entrance. This then leads to a ghost town where a wonderful banquet is waiting. Naturally, her parents decide to tuck in but their gorging of the food turns them into pigs. This is because, we gradually begin to realise, the family has unwittingly wandered into an alternative kingdom. The centre point of the kingdom, bizarrely enough, is the enormous bath house where new visitors are transformed into animals before they’re slaughtered for food.

If this all sounds a little like Alice in Wonderland – then that’s because it is. It’s a weird and wonderful dream where seemingly everything can turn into anything but the tale remains compelling.

Chihiro and her new found friend Haku has to work as a servant for the old witch of a bath house mistress, Yubaba, in order to survive and to save her mother and father.


There are some weird and wonderful adventures and creatures to contend with along the way including a giant baby, and a sludge vomiting phantom.

It’s something of a ‘black’ theme in true Brothers Grimm or Lewis Carroll “childhood, alienation and loneliness” type of style, but the animation techniques are a really refreshing change from the western diet.

Hayao Miyazaki’s inspiration for the movie came from his childhood summer holidays which he would spend each year in a cabin in the mountains with his own family along with five girls – family friends. Later in life, he wanted to make a movie for his childhood friends aimed at girls around the same age as the heroine; ten. In an attempt to generate ideas for the project, Miyazaki read “shōjo manga” (literally “little girl”) magazines including “Ribon” and “Nakayoshi” that his young friends had left at the mountain cabin, but found them too limited dealing only with traditional girly themes like romance etc.

He was in search of something a lot deeper and Spirited Away was the weird and wonderful result of his endeavours!

Admittedly, this is a movie you’re either going to love or hate – but either way, you have to appreciate the superb animation. It’s a movie that has proved very popular on satellite channels over recent years but has now been shown on mainstream TV a couple of times.


You should definitely give Spirited Away a try if you decide having a relaxing weekend at home. You can either support the DVD industry by buying the traditional hardcopy DVD or if should you happen to have a broadband package in your home, then you can just download Spirited Away straight onto your TV and you can enjoy it within minutes. The beauty of having a broadband and TV bundle from companies like Sky or TalkTalk TV is that you can not only stream movies and programmes from your own TV provider onto your laptop or pc, but you can also stream classic films and programmes from other internet-based services like Netflix or LoveFilm. This means that you’ll always be able to find the programmes you want to watch somewhere on the internet.

The ability to watch great animations of the past is a complete boon to fans of the genre – but if you’re more of a contemporary animated movie fan, then The Movie List continually updates its most watched trailers chart – and is very much worth keeping an eye on, particularly the “classics” tab. Popularity doesn’t always indicate quality with mainstream movies, but this isn’t usually the case with animation. In our genre, the best-watched usually are the best.


Running time: 125 minutes
Year: 2001
Released: March 29th 2004
Widescreen: 1.85:1
Rating: 8/10

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Producers: Toshio Suzuki (original) and Donald W. Ernst (English language version)
Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi