Spirited Away

July 20, 2001 0 By Fans
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In the middle of her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into animals; and a bathhouse for these creatures.

Release Year: 2001

Rating: 8.6/10 (154,462 voted)

Critic's Score: 94/100

Hayao Miyazaki

Stars: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino

Chihiro and her family are on their way to their new house in the suburbs when her father decides to take a shortcut along a lonely-looking dirt road. After getting out of the car and walking along a path for a while, they discover an open-air restaurant filled with food but with no workers or customers present. Mom and Dad don't hesitate to sit down and dig in, but Chihiro senses danger and refuses. As night falls, she is terrified to see the area fill with faceless spirits, but when she runs to find her parents, she discovers that they have been turned into pigs. She is found by a mysterious boy named Haku, who promises to help her. He gets her a job working in a nearby building, which turns out to be a bathhouse for the thousands of Japan's gods and spirits. Though the work is hard and the people strange, she does as well as she can. Her parents, however, are still waiting in the hotel's stockyard…


Rumi Hiiragi


(voice: Japanese version)

Miyu Irino


(voice: Japanese version)

Mari Natsuki


(voice: Japanese version)

Takashi Naitô

Chihiro no otôsan

(voice: Japanese version)

Yasuko Sawaguchi

Chihiro no okâsan

(voice: Japanese version)

Tatsuya Gashûin

Aogaeru, Assistant Manager

(voice: Japanese version)

Ryûnosuke Kamiki

(voice: Japanese version)

Yumi Tamai


(voice: Japanese version)

Yô Ôizumi


(voice: Japanese version)

Koba Hayashi

Kawa no Kami

(voice: Japanese version)

Tsunehiko Kamijô


(voice: Japanese version)

Takehiko Ono


(voice: Japanese version)

Bunta Sugawara


(voice: Japanese version)

Noriko Kitou

Additional Voices

(voice: Japanese version)

Shiro Saito

Additional Voices

(voice: Japanese version)

(The tunnel led Chihiro to a mysterious town…)


Official Website:
MSN France (French) |
Miyazaki collection |

Release Date: 20 July 2001

Box Office Details

Budget: ¥1,900,000,000


Opening Weekend: $8,898,000
(29 July 2002)
(318 Screens)

Gross: $230,308,036
(7 March 2002)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


The cleansing of the river spirit is based on a real-life incident in Hayao Miyazaki's life in which he participated in the cleaning of a river, removing, among other things, a bicycle.


When Sen steps in the Black Slug in the boiler room, the slug goes all over the bottom of her foot. When she kneels down next to Haku, the black slug remains are no longer on her foot.


[first lines]

[reading a card]
I'll miss you, Chihiro. Your best friend, Rumi.

User Review

An Amazing Achievement in Animation.


'Spirited Away' is the first Miyazaki I have seen, but from this
stupendous film I can tell he is a master storyteller. A hallmark of a
good storyteller is making the audience empathise or pull them into the
shoes of the central character. Miyazaki does this brilliantly in
'Spirited Away'. During the first fifteen minutes we have no idea what
is going on. Neither does the main character Chihiro. We discover the
world as Chihiro does and it's truly amazing to watch. But Miyazaki
doesn't seem to treat this world as something amazing. The world is
filmed just like our workaday world would. The inhabitants of the world
go about their daily business as usual as full with apathy as us normal
folks. Places and buildings are not greeted by towering establishing
shots and majestic music. The fact that this place is amazing doesn't
seem to concern Miyazaki.

What do however, are the characters. Miyazaki lingers upon the
characters as if they were actors. He infixes his animated actors with
such subtleties that I have never seen, even from animation giants
Pixar. Twenty minutes into this film and I completely forgot these were
animated characters; I started to care for them like they were living
and breathing. Miyazaki treats the modest achievements of Chihiro with
unashamed bombast. The uplifting scene where she cleanses the River God
is accompanied by stirring music and is as exciting as watching
gladiatorial combatants fight. Of course, by giving the audience
developed characters to care about, the action and conflicts will
always be more exciting, terrifying and uplifting than normal, generic
action scenes.

Through Chihiro, Miyazaki is clearly (but non-patronisingly) talking to
youth of Japan. There's a certain sense of revile about the youth of
Japan at the moment. Many people consider them to be ill-mannered and
baring no respect for their elders or their forefathers. They are
simply bi-products of their material world and consumerism. 'Spirited
Away' taps into this. At the start Chihiro is a selfish, spoiled, whiny
brat. But as she plunges deeper into the spirit world, she becomes more
independent, more assured, more respectful and learns some manners. No
Face, a black figure with a white mask, is the catalyst behind
Chihiro's transformation. Once he is let into the bathhouse, we are no
longer tourists – the story propels forth. Watching No Face prey on the
greed of the workers is a terrifying delight. The three main characters
in Miyazaki's youth allegory are Chihiro, No Face and Bô. All of these
characters are disconnected with their world. They are lonely,
misunderstood and largely ignored. But when they go on their journey
together, they united and become stronger individuals.

Miyazaki also talks about the ecology of Japan. What was once a
beautiful; grassland has now turned into the Asian New York. That The
Last Samurai had to be filmed in New Zealand to get a turn of the
century Japanese look speaks volumes. The River God sequence is an
unsubtle but unpretentious commentary on pollution. While these two
themes are very much current in Japan, they are also universal themes –
which makes 'Spirited Away' a universal story that most of us can
connect with. I'm willing to bet everyone reading this has at some time
seen bicycles lying on a lake bed or have had a child talk to them
disrespectfully. Sure these themes aren't advanced philosophy. They are
everyday issues told in an inventive, fun way.

The animation is wonderful, if not as smooth as Disney's works – but
there's something superior to that. 'Spirited Away's imperfect, but
detailed world is far more fascinating than the perfected blandest of
Disney's latest offerings. The animators successfully balanced the
tight-rope between not-enough animation on characters and too much
animation on characters. No Ralph Balski ADD antics here! The film is
full of vivid images – both beautiful and horrifying. The line between
those two extremes is crossed over seamlessly. From Chihiro and Haku
running through an opening flower field to Haku's dragon snarling with
a bloody mouth, both extremes seem to belong in the film. It's also
excellently done with the characters. Kamaji can be seen as a scary,
daunting figure at the beginning, but soon he seamlessly changes into a
humble, wise figure. Yubaba also seems to be able to turn from kind to
witch with the snap of a finger.

The sound on the film was expertly done. The sounds perfectly match the
on screen actions and objects. My sub woofer got a wonderful workout
when Haku swoops Chihiro past the bridge at the beginning. And while I
don't speak Japanese, I think the voice actors did a wonderful job of
conveying their personality and emotions true their voice. Joe
Hisaishi's music is sublime, definitely one of my favourite scores. His
main piano theme is simple and evocative. His thunderous action music
hits the viewers on the chest like a hammer. Like all great scores it
heightens the greatness of a scene about three times. The score, unlike
many American composers', is unobtrusive. It plays excellently with the
scenes, but never overbears them. A lot of the time the it is barely
noticeable, a sole piano plays softly in the background evoking a
dreamlike/lullaby quality.

'Spirited Away' is a simply a modern masterpiece, easily one of the Top
10 films of the new millennium. It works on a multitude of levels; a
social commentary on Japan, a homage to ancient Japanese/Russian
mythology, a moral film for both children and adults. But most
importantly, it is a simple story brilliantly told by a great filmmaker
who appears to be at the top of his game. 'Spirited Away' works much
like a relaxing journey. Pop in the DVD; leave this world for two hours
and when you will be almost certainly enriched and ready to take the
trip again.