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Spirited Away

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Distributor: Walt Disney, Studio Ghibli
Original Story: Hayao Miyazaki
Volumes: N/A
Rating: PG
Anime Code: E

A young girl named Chihiro and her parents discover a bath house where Japanese gods go to relax.  Shortly thereafter, her parents become pigs (literally) and Chihiro must work for a witch named Yubaba.  Yubaba puts a spell on Chihiro which makes Chihiro gradually forget who she is simply by stealing her name.  Now, Chihiro must hold onto who she is while at the same time find some way to return her parents to normal and send them all back home.  But it isn't easy with a witch hovering over her like a hawk, a twelve-foot tall baby, and a monster eating everything in sight.

Review: This movie deserves all the awards it won.  This could very well be the Japanese version of Alice in Wonderland.  A girl discovers a magical land and must find a way out.  The voices were perfect, especially Daveigh Chase as the spoiled Chihiro and Suzanne Pleshette as the harsh witch Yubaba.  Miyazaki defies theatrical stereotypes.  In his movies, there are no villains (with the only exception being Castle in the Sky), just main characters overcoming challenges and growing as a result of it.  This is especially true in Spirited Away.  Chihiro finds unexpected allies in her quest but when it all comes down to it, she's the one who grows and moves on better than she was before.  The music was great, the plot was great, everything about it was great.

Action Level: 4/5
Who says you need enemies to have action?  Miyazaki does a perfect job of playing action scenes against nature or forces beyond the character's control.

Romance Level: 3/5
Jimanji the Boiler Man said that Chihiro was able to save Haku because she loved him.  You don't get more romantic than that without getting physical.

Comedy Level: 3/5
Comedy was on par with your typical Disney movie with animals providing most of the comic relief.

Adult Level: 2/5
Scary moments, but nothing else.  I didn't even know that was possible.

Drama Level: 5/5
This movie was all about Chihiro growing as a person.  I don't think Shakespeare could've sculpted better drama.

Overall Level: 4/5
Some directors form their masterpieces like works of art.  Miyazaki forms his like a composition, dozens of different forces coming together to form a symphony of passion and determination.  If you had to buy only one DVD a year, make this one one of them.