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volume 3 issue 3

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Sen to Chihiro no Kamigakushi (Spirited Away)
120 minutes
Studio Ghibli
It's easy to see why this film's #1.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Sen to Chihiro no Kamigakushi
By Rebecca Lee

Chihiro wasn't keen on moving in the first place. She already missed her old neighborhood. Then, on the way to the new house, her father takes a wrong turn in the road and they end up in some kind of abandoned town. If that's not enough, her parents eat forbidden food and get turned into pigs! Furthermore, the town turns out to be a spa for monsters and lesser gods. To save her life and that of her parents, Chihiro must work at this spa in the spirit world. As a part of her contract, she gets her name stolen by the cruel sorceress Yubaba. Even with the help of the strange spider man Kamiji, the mysterious youth Haku, and her own colleague Lin, will Sen ever return to the world of the living?

Having worked 5 hours at a Yakitori counter every day in the past week, a short trip to the cinema was quite welcome to me. So, I sat down in the theatre with a packet of popcorn and a can of coke. However, I was too caught up in the storyline to eat or drink anything. Once again, the company that brought you Princess Mononoke has made another animated masterpiece. Spirited Away bears the familiar Studio Ghibli artwork, and has a wonderful and involving story. I enjoyed it immensely.

Spirited Away gives a good insight into the Japanese culture. It is a pretty good introduction to the mythical beasts of Japan, which are much different from their European counterparts. Strangely shaped 'Kappa', River Dragons and all sorts of other 'bakemono' are paraded across the screen in the colorful introduction. It is also a good introduction to traditional Japanese music and other simple aspects of the Japanese culture (the values they hold dear, some of their spiritual beliefs etc.) However, Spirited Away is catered to a purely Japanese audience, and it is assumed that the audience has a relatively good understanding of the Japanese culture already. The good thing is, it isn't hard to pick up on.

Innocent, sweet and romantic, Spirited Away has no fan service (sorry guys) and only a few short fight scenes for the action fans. It touches on some very complex themes and philosophies that the Japanese hold dear. However, even with the innocence and the lack of violence, some scenes are still a little too scary for young kids, such the scene in which one of the bakemono eats another bakemono. This is not a Pokemon movie, after all. In fact, one of the children watching the movie with me went into hysterics and started bawling.

I know that this review isn't exactly very good, but the movie was so wonderful that I can hardly put my feelings about it into words. Do yourself a favor and watch this show. The touching backgrounds and special effects are to die for. You won't regret it - after all, the only thing I regretted was not having a boyfriend to watch it with!

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