There are so many accolades for this movie: one of the best movies of the 2000’s, and one of the best animated movies of all time; winner of the Japanese Academy Awards, Golden Bare, Cinekid Awards, Hong Kong award, and best animated feature at the 75th academy awards. Occasionally popular culture gets it right, this film is well deserving of all these awards, it is very close to a perfect movie.
The film is about a little girl who finds herself in a magical world, and gets a job working at a bathhouse for spirits, run by a witch Named Yubaba. When I heard the name I thought for sure that she was based on the mythical witch/creature Baba Yaga, and she might still be, but I was slightly disappointed that at no time in the film was she holding a mortar and pestle. The only problem that I have with the movie is that the final revelation toured the end of the film, was not indicated earlier in the film, which kind of results in a Deus Ex Machina, but this is just a minor complaint at best. I won’t reveal what this revelation is because I don’t want to spoil the movie, everyone should see it.
I can’t discuss this movie without drawing comparisons to “Howl’s Moving Castle” another Miyazaki film made 3 years later. Most people think “Spirited Away” is the better film, I disagree however they are very close. When it comes to story, it’s almost too close to call, both films plots are intricate and somewhat similar in nature, with blurred lines between good and evil, the people who are supposed to be “bad” have some good in them as well as sympathy and reasons as to why they do some of the bad things they do, story is a push. Howl is a lighter film over all, but since it’s based on a novel (albeit very loosely), and spirited away is wholly original, you kind of have to go with Spirited Away, but again it’s very close. Lastly, the animation, if you ask me Howl’s Moving Castle is better as far as it’s animation goes, sure there are some beautifully animated sequences in Spirited away, but Howl is almost one continues sequence of beautiful animation, and since this is an animated film I’ll have to hold this at the highest standard, pushing Howl just slightly above Spirited Away. Nonetheless, I think it is imperative for everyone to see both movies. Not just fans of animation, but fans of fantasy and fans of movies in general, they are both simply that good.