Way late review: Spirited Away

I’ve never taken LSD. After watching Spirited Away, one of my son’s favorite anime films, I think I know what it’s like to take LSD.

Not that it matters all that much, but here’s the synopsis and a juicy Oscar tidbit:

During her family’s move to the suburbs, Chihiro (voiced by Daveigh Chase) wanders into a magical world where a witch rules — and those who disobey her are turned into animals. When Chihiro’s parents become pigs, she must find a way to help them return to their human form. Adapted from the Japanese original, director Hayao Miyazaki’s adventure tale won the Best Animated Feature Oscar for its enchanting story.

What is left out of that summary are the images that will likely give me strange dreams and nightmares for years to come. A giant baby who morphs into an overweight mouse. Three ugly green bouncing heads morphing into the giant baby, morphing into a giant ugly man baby that finally transforms back to three ugly green bouncing heads. Not one, but two, identical witches with oversized heads that include a wart between the eyes that Uncle Buck would offer a quarter to have a rat gnaw off. A “stink spirit” that causes people to either faint or vomit or both. A boy who becomes a creature not unlike Falkor from Neverending story. Unlike Falkor, this creature bleeds from the mouth half of the time its on screen. Frogs with teeth. Raddish spirits. And those are just the ones I can’t burn from my memory nor am I likely any time soon.

Regardless, there is something hypnotizing about Spirited Away. It’s certainly not a coherent plot, character development, nor decent voice dubbing. Maybe it’s the world Miyazaki created and proceeds to run away with. I do have a certain admiration for the guts to do that. On the other hand, I’ve also seen Miyazaki’s Ponyo, a film that makes Spirited Away seem genius in all areas – storytelling, character development, voice dubbing, and all around coherence. The point is that Miyazaki was rather constrained with Spirited Away in comparison.

If you ever get the urge to eat an odd looking mushroom you find growing in the forest or experimenting with hallucinogens, don’t. Put on Spirited Away instead. I’m pretty sure the end result will be roughly the same.

 ★★½☆☆ 

This post is part of my Way late reviews. Read more reviews here.