Project #50: Spirited Away

Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. Well guys we made it. This is the 50th blog of Project Nitsuj (not counting the side blogs and specials) and they said we wouldn’t live to see 10 well I say this to those sayers: “Two finger salute followed by a stone cold stunner”. Well since this is a special occasion I should do something cool to mark this moment right? How about a crappy clip blog? Nah just kidding that be stupid, today I’m going to review my second favorite animated movie of all time Spirited Away. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki himself Spirited Away has often been considered his best and most creative work. The film follows the story of a 10 year-old girl’s journey into the Spirit World and her attempts to save her parents. The film came out in 2001 and is considered the most successful Japanese film of all time in Japan grossing almost 275 million dollars (about 23 billion yen) worldwide, earning multiple awards, and praise from critics worldwide. Even the great film critic Roger Ebert (God rest his soul) called this movie a masterpiece and even added it to his list of great movies. So let’s get this 50th blog review party started and take a look at Spirited Away. Also, I’m looking at the English dub version.

Alright let’s see how long it takes for the film to establish itself as a Miyazaki film. So the film starts off with our main heroine Chihiro voiced by a young Daveigh Chase (Lilo from Lilo and Stitch) at the time who you might also remember as Samara Morgan from The Ring movies. She’s sad because she’s moving to the countryside with her folks leaving behind all her friends (when will they ever learn that nothing good can come from city people moving to the countryside). As their driving the father makes a wrong turn and ends up at a tunnel being blocked by a small statue (who builds a statue in the middle of the road). They go into the tunnel and arrive on the other side where they see a small village and the parents stupidly mistake it for an amusement park (have these guys seen an amusement? There’s no Ferris wheel, mascots, music, mini-games, screaming children or for that matter any people at all in this place and you honestly think this is an amusement? These folks are stupid) and find a food stand unattended where the parents chow down on the food (so you just randomly eat unattended food without paying or seeing if it’s okay to eat in the first place? Stupid and inconsiderate these parents are really shaping up to be likable characters). As Chihiro explores the town she comes across the bathouse (which I’m sure won’t play any importance in the future) and meets a young boy who we find out later is Haku voiced by Jason Marsden (Chester from The Fairly Odd Parents) who tells her to get out of here before nightfall (well that was rude, I don’t care how dangerous the situation is manners are manners). As she’s running back to her parents the town starts to become filled with spirits (and 12 minutes. This is probably the longest it’s taken Miyazaki to establish himself) who strangely enough look like shadows from the Persona series (man, Miyazaki must have be a fan of the Persona series. . .did anybody else just imagine Miyazaki holding an evoker to his head and saying Persona right now). She finds her parents who have been turned into sloppy, disgusting mindless pigs (I fail to see the difference from their human forms).

As she begins to vanish Haku shows up and gives her some food telling her she has to eat their food or she’ll disappear. He takes her back to the bathhouse where he tells her to go the boiler room and ask for work from the chief of the boiler room to keep herself safe from the evil witch Yubaba (your mama?). She goes down the stairs taking short baby steps trying not to fall (oh will stop being a whining pussy and walk down the stairs like a normal person). She reaches the boiler room where we meet the second most creative creature in this movie a spider-man named Kamaji voiced by David Ogden Stiers (Cogworth from Beauty and The Beast) and his tiny little worker spiders (well ants looks like you’ve been replaced so *grabs a can a bug spray* yeah sorry). She asks to work here but Kamaji throws her onto Lin (or Rin if you watched the Japanese version) another worker of the bathhouse who sends her to Yubaba (Chewbacca?). And even though she was told to stay away from Yubaba (Nevada?) like an idiot she goes to her and we finally get to see the big-headed witch (I’m not kidding her head is bigger than her whole body) Yubaba (jabba llama sama obama I’ma gonna slap ya somethin’? Last one I swear). She’s voiced by Suzanne Pleshette. Chihiro pleads for a job but Yubaba just keeps saying no because she runs a high class bathhouse for the spirits to come to relax (okay first, this is the spirit world? Hmm, no offence to Dragonball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho but they got nothing on Miyazaki’s version. Second, high class!? Lady, you run a public bathhouse where everyone is running around butt naked there ain’t nothing high class about this place. In fact, if this wasn’t a kids movie, the main character was a 16 year old boy, and we changed a few things around this be the premise for a good hentai, the story practically writes itself). After a bit of persuasion Yubaba hires Chihiro as one of the maids for the bathhouse and steals her name calling her Sen instead of Chihiro ().

The next day Haku takes Chihiro to see her pig parents (well I know what I’ll be having for breakfast) and tells her to remember her real name otherwise she’ll never be able to escape Yubaba’s hold on her. Yeah, apparently Yubaba controls people by stealing their name which is why Haku is her slave, he can’t remember his name (shows how weak she is. I control 2 AI girls with just my swagger. (Isis): I only follow you because I can live here free and pretty much do whatever I want. Listening to you is out of the goodwill of my heart. (Chibi Isis): I follow Nii-chan because Nii-chan is Nii-chan). After leaving, Haku transforms into a dragon and flies off somewhere into the sky leaving Chihiro to return back to the bathhouse and work. So she begins working in the bathhouse and keeps failing and falling behind the others because she’s not used to working (spoiled brat). As she’s working she lets in a spirit known as No-Face who is hands down the most creative and best character in the movie. He’s a lonely spirit with a transparent black body and a mask for a face who develops an obsession over Chihiro just because she was kind to him (if he gets within 5 feet of her I’m calling the cops). Later that night a stink spirit shows up at the bathhouse to take a bath (oh God he stinks worse than Batman and Robin) and Chihiro has to tend to him. As Chihiro is washing him she discovers that there’s a thorn in his side and tries to pull it out. With the help of the other workers she pulls out the thorn which turns out to be a bike and other junk and the spirit reveals itself to be a water spirit who was just dirty because of all the pollution and garbage that people threw into the water (a subtle message about pollution. That’s clever. Nothing less from the Great Miyazaki). As thanks for saving him he gives Chihiro some rare medicine and leaves a lot of gold on the floor as a tip for the workers (gold, gold, GOLD~).

The next day No-Face has become influenced by the greedy workers and becomes a greedy selfish person who makes it rain gold pieces (). Because of this everybody flocks and tries to serve him but the person he wants to serve him the most Chihiro (not in a sexual way hopefully all because I’m sure he doesn’t have a penis), who doesn’t seem to care about what he’s doing (IGNORE HIM~). Instead she’s worried about Haku who has returned severely injured by some paper cutouts (wow. You’re a dragon and you got owned by paper? Weakest. Dragon. Ever). Haku goes on a rampage in the upper levels of the bathhouse with Chihiro (along with a paper cutout following her) going after him to calm him down. She finds Haku in Yubaba’s office where she also finds Yubaba’s big baby boy who stays within his room (no doubt because all the other kids treat him like a big baby) and wants to play with Chihiro (take a hint, she’s a furry she likes dragons). After she refuses to play with him he begins to cry and the paper cutout reveals itself to be Yubaba’s twin sister Zeniba (Simba? *Laughs* I’m sorry I’m sorry). She turns the baby into a mouse and tells Chihiro that Haku stole her solid gold seal (gold’s the new money isn’t it) and wants it back saying that there’s a powerful curse on the seal and anyone who tries to break it will die from the curse. Chihiro refuses to give her dragon boyfriend away and they fall down a hole which leads them back to the boiler room where Chihiro gives Haku the water spirit medicine which causes him to cough out the seal as well as some black slug which Chihiro squashes (disgusting). Haku transforms back into his human form and Chihiro decides to take the seal back to Zeniba and apologize for Haku. But before she can do that she has to calm down No-Face who is demanding to see her otherwise he’ll eat up all the workers who piss him off (. . .meh, they were gonna die eventually. Plus Yubaba doesn’t have to pay them now). She goes to No-Face who has become a big monster (time to get out the evoker and go Persona on his ass) and gives him some more of that water spirit medicine which makes him sick (too much medicine can become poison to the body). He goes on rampage and starts to chase Chihiro through the bathhouse (he’s made a move! Cops! Take him down). Yubaba tries to stop him but she just gets a full body sludge coat courtesy of No-Face (). She manages to get No-Face out of the bathhouse and outside where he returns to normal and makes her way to the train stop where she boards the train along with No-Face and heads to where Zeniba is.

Back at the bathhouse Haku wakes back up (guess we’ll have to take dragon meat off the menu. We could of made a killing) and goes to see Yubaba who realizes that her baby is missing (now that I think about it who was the poor drunk sap who did the horizontal bump with that big-headed old hag). She tells Haku to go get him back from Zeniba but only if she tears up Chihiro’s contract and returns her and her parents back to the human world (and I get a PS4 (Isis): You already have a PS4. (Nitsuj): One’s for playing and the other’s for showing off). Back on Chihiro’s side her group reaches Zeniba’s house who unlike Yubaba who is mean and wicked Zeniba is kind and caring. She tells Chihiro that the slugged she squashed was the creature Yubaba put inside Haku to control him and that her curse on the seal was broken due to the love between Chihiro and Haku (I imagine their dragon babies will be cute). Haku eventually shows up to take the gang home except for No-Face who decides to stay with Zeniba. As their flying back on Haku, Chihiro finally remembers Haku’s real name which is Kohaku a river where Chihiro played at long ago and get swept away in because she was trying to get her shoe back. But Haku the spirit of the river saved her which is how he knows her name even though she never told him. Happy about hearing his true name he transforms back into his human form and thanks her for helping him remember his name. They fly back to the bathhouse where Haku returns Yubaba’s baby and demands that she keeps her in of the bargain and release Chihiro and her family. Yubaba agrees to do this but only if Chihiro can pass Yubaba’s final test which is to figure out which of the pigs are her parents. Chihiro figures out that none of them are her parents and she passes Yubaba’s test (good on you girl). Chihiro’s contract gets torn up and she earns her families freedom as well as hers. Haku takes her back to the tunnel entrance where she finds her parents, they get back into their car and drive off to their new house with Chihiro looking forward to starting her new life and that’s the end.

Final Thoughts

This movie is just excellent. Everything from beginning to end is fantastic and a joy to watch. Chihiro starts off as whining and annoying but quickly starts to mature and become stronger like an adult which is something I think most of can relate to. She’s start off scared being thrown into a situation she’s not used to and for that matter never thought she would be in and has no choice but to grow up and figure out how to solve it herself without relying on the help of her parents. She can’t hide behind her parents or go to them for help, she has to face the situation head-on herself and learn to stand on her own feet. Her character is a representation of coming to age with oneself. She realizes that if she wants to get out of the situation and help her parents she can’t keep acting like a child she has to grow up and become an adult and she does just that. Throughout the movie we see her lose that childlike personality and gradually become an adult and by the end of the movie she’s a full adult ready to face the world and the changes that come with it. Haku pretty much stays the same throughout the film. It’s clearly shown that he does love her and vice versa willing to go to great lengths to protect her and watch over her. I like how they don’t make that a central focus on the film and instead just focus Chihiro’s growth as a person. Too many films and books focus on the relationship between female and male instead of the growth of the main character. While it’s not a bad thing because chances are some readers do have relationship problems or worries, I do think that it’s more important to focus on their growth as individual people so that you can connect with them better. No-Face is my favorite character throughout the movie because he’s a representation of you the viewer. He’s influenced by the things and people around him which is what influences us in real life. The people and places we surround ourselves with will pretty much define our personality and way of thinking so if you surround yourself with greedy and selfish people (i.e. the bathhouse) you’ll most likely become those people but if you surround yourself with kind and caring people (i.e. Chihiro and Zeniba) you’ll most likely become like those people. Friends are like elevators they either take you up or down so choose them wisely.

The animation is as you would expect is an amazing spectacle to look at and has that great Studio Ghibli touch that you can’t find anywhere else. I love Miyazaki’s version of the Spirit World and how it can be identical our world. Rumors have it Miyazaki based the design of the Spirit World after a town called Jiufen in Taiwan as well as other buildings in Japan. The music is also great to listen to its beautiful, lovely, and peaceful so if you ever feel like relaxing and reading a book this music goes great with that. In the end this is a great film that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults and if you haven’t seen it yet I say go out there and watch it.

Final Score

This shouldn’t come as a surprise but Spirited Away earns a 10/10 a masterpiece of animation well worth watching multiple times and a must watch stamp of approval for everyone. This is definitely Studio Ghibli’s best film today and the one film that everyone associates it with so go out there and watch it. And if you have watched it already go watch it again because this a one of kind film that you’ll probably only see once in your life time. Also, before I close I just wanna say thanks for taking time out of your day to read my blogs and read what I have to say. I honestly didn’t think I would ever get to 50 blogs let alone 20. I feel as if I’ve really come a long way from my first blogs and will continue to grow and get better. Working on Project Nitsuj has been some of the most fun I’ve had in a long while and I’m glad and honored I get to share my fun with you. I’ve made 50 blogs so far so here’s to another 50 and then some. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.

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