Disney realized, with Princess Mononoke, that
Americans will pay for quality translations of good
anime. Is Spirited Away another winner? (Well,
not according to the box office receipts, but what
do they know?)

Also Known As


Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (original Japanese title)

Premise


Chihiro, ten-year-old Everygirl, tries to rescue her parents from Yubaba,
owner of a bath house for spirits, who has turned them into pigs.

Cast And Crew


(All voices are for the English-language version.)

Daveigh Chase as Chihiro

Jason Marsden as Haku

Suzanne Pleshette as Yubaba and Zeniba

Susan Egan as Lin



Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki

High Point


I only get to pick one? Other than the fact that it was released in the States in the first place? Okay, the (unintentionally?) funny scene
where Haku remembers… (I won’t give it all away, but the joke involves gravity.)

Low Point


Some of the dialogue felt a bit forced (in the sense of trying to have
characters speak at odd speeds to avoid seriously messing up the
lip-synch). While the translators did a more than adequate job, I guess I
was just spoiled by
Neil Gaiman‘s superlative work on
Miyazaki’s Princess
Mononoke
.

The Scores

The fish-out-of-water story (in this case, a human girl trapped in the
realm of the spirits) is hardly original; it’s older than, well,
something really old. Fortunately, it’s spun so well here that it still
seems fresh and new. 5 out of 6.

In lieu of a special effects score, I’ll rate the animation.
It’s certainly sufficient, but nothing really truly special. The pigs were
nice, though. Solid 4 out of 6 score here.

The story and writing are solid, though marred a little bit by
the translation. Again, I think I was just spoiled by Gaiman. The only low
spot is the slightly abrupt ending, but that seems typical of a lot of
anime. Another high mark – 5 out of 6.

That translation again affects the voice acting score, but the
cast did what they could. Nothing really stands out, but none of the
voices were really bad or off-character. Middle-of-the-road 3 out of 6
points.

All those low numbers get balanced out by emotional response,
fortunately. Having spent much of my childhood alone, I couldn’t quite
relate to Chihiro at times; fortunately, my girlfriend (who comes from a
rather large family, and thus could more poignantly speak on absence and
on the value of family) convinced me to give this a 5 out of 6 score.

Production: If you saw Princess Mononoke, you know what to
expect here: a faithful reproduction of the original. The Japanese style
shines through, and that’s a good thing. Aside from a “Walt Disney
Pictures Presents” card at the front of the movie, it’s untouched. Solid 4
out of 6 here.

Overall, it’s a darn good flick. Definite 5 out of 6.

That gives Spirited Away a healthy 31 out of 42 points,
and my personal recommendation.