Like most fans of animation, I absolutely love Hayao Miyazaki’s works. I can never get enough for Studio Ghibli’s silky smooth animation and their trademark, beautiful artwork. When you have Miyazaki at the helm of all this magic, you end up with amazing films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and now another one being released by Shout Factory, Spirited Away: Collector’s Edition. If you love animated films or just great ones in general, you’ll want to get swept away with this classic.
For those who don’t know what this 2001 award-winning movie is about, it follows the life of a young, spoiled girl named Chihiro, as her and her parents are moving to a new house. While trying to find their new home near the woods, they end up getting lost and stop to explore an abandoned town where some delicious food magically appears for them to eat. The parents begin to consume the food and can’t stop until they turn into giant pigs (one of Miyazaki’s favorite animals) which of course frightens Chihiro and leads her to run away in fear. After running, she ends up in a magical world where all sorts of beings and creatures reside.
Being spoiled and sheltered most of her life, Chihiro is at a loss and cries uncontrollably until a young boy finds her and calms her down. He then sends her to a powerful sorceress named Yubaba who puts Chihiro to work in a magical bathhouse that spirits and demons use to clean themselves and relax. From here Chihiro will learn to toughen up through discipline and tackle all sorts of problems that come her way, all while going on the adventure of a lifetime.
To say anymore would ruin one of the greatest films ever made, but anyone and everyone should see this movie at least once in their lives as it truly is that good. For the longest time I held Princess Mononoke as my favorite Miyazaki title, but after watching this one again, I’m sort of conflicted and hold both as my two all-time favorites. It’s just a beautiful and heart-warming tale that anyone can get into, and I also love how Miyazaki based this story of discipline and redemption off one of his friend’s spoiled kids that a lot of people and parents can relate to.
It’s no surprise this film won the Academy Award for best animated feature at the 75th Academy Awards, as the gorgeous and buttery smooth animation and artwork look even more wonderful in high-definition. The audio side of things is just as perfect as the original Japanese audio and English dub come through nicely as the beautiful music by Joe Hisaishi pulls you deeper into the magic on screen.
With this being a collector’s edition, there’s some pretty amazing extras included, starting with the hardcover slipcase that looks and feels study. Also included with the film is a 40-page book with loads of artwork and essays by film critic Kenneth Turan and famed critic and film historian Leonard Maltin, along with statements by producer Toshio Suzuki and Hayao Miyazaki himself. To top it off, the film’s soundtrack on CD is also included for the first time in North America to be enjoyed whenever and wherever. Lastly there’s some on disc features such as feature-length storyboards to compare them to the film while watching, going behind the microphone with the cast, the original theatrical trailers and TV commercials, and more.
Any movie lover will want to pick up the Spirited Away: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray for their collection if they haven’t already done so, as it truly is one of the greatest films you’ll ever see. There’s tons of drama, humor, and adventure laced with gorgeous artwork, animation, and music. Do yourself and anyone close to you a favor by gathering them up, popping in this film, and letting your spirit soar with this now timeless classic.