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Spirited Away

I left UTARPA and went to see Spirited Away on Friday - opening night - along with many of the Serial Diners. Between the groups, there were maybe a dozen of us in all. I walked down from campus with Donald, with spectacular and fairly close flashes of lightning all around, but no rain. C. and everyone else met us at the theater. I think C. mentioned that on slashdot, they said it opens next week in the U.S. It may have been opening night here, but it was not the Canadian premiere. That was the other week during the film festival, when Hiyao Miyazaki (the director, also did Princess Mononoke) answered questions via a translator - don't know if there were any of the voice actors there, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

For those of you who haven't heard of it, Spirited Away is Japan's all time highest earning film, having surpassed Titanic for that honor earlier this year. It's also a really good movie. It is anime, that is, it's an animated movie, but that doesn't mean much in terms of the audience it's aimed at in Japan. It's rated PG - there are some rather scary bits, especially early on.

The gist: Young Chihiro is en route to her new home with her parents. The parents take a wrong turn and end up at what they believe to be a theme park. Shortly after, her parents become pigs, Chihiro becomes panicked, and it turns out she's trapped in a spa town for the gods, inhabited by spirits. She must get a job to survive there, but along the way, makes friends and helps lots of delightful people and creatures out. It sounds fluffier than it is from that description. It's a beautiful movie, with a slew of delightful characters.


I love the soot creatures! They were some of my favorite characters in the movie. I loved when they went on strike.

Miyazaki's movies inevitably have environmental themes in them somewhere, and while it wasn't a heavy-handed aspect of this movie, it was there, especially in the cleansing of the river god, and the building over of another of the river god's rivers.

The baby didn't bode well at first, but proved a fun character, especially post-transformation. The bird-and-baby relationship was very amusing. I liked their exercise regime on the spinning wheel.

Most of the people in my group seemed the think the logic of the train odd, but just one of the strange and beautiful features of the movie. They didn't seem to have arrived at the same conclusion I did: I thought it was just the normal real world train, which is why all the other passengers were transparent and didn't noticed Sen's party. That might also help to explain why tickets were so rare and valuable at the spa.