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Spirited Away

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  Spirited Away Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
9.00 /10
English version of 2002 voiced by Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers and Susan Egan

Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt, Donald H Hewitt

Released: 2001
Origin: Japan/ US
Length: 122

This Oscar-winning animated film is a Japanese cartoon about a timid little girl finding her courage when she is transported to a curious spirit world inhabited by witches, dragons and apparitions of all shapes, sizes and colours.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Everything is controlled by a harpie with a marked resemblance to Margaret Thatcher, and the economic system revolves around being paid in gold for providing hygienic personal services in an enormous bath-house.

It's a curious universe and an even stranger cartoon. Hayao Miyazaki is often hailed as a visionary, but once again - as with his last, Princess Mononoke - the beautiful backgrounds are much more arresting than anything in the foreground.

From about half an hour in, his invention starts to flag - too many of the monsters look like figures off Pokemon cards - and it becomes increasingly obvious that the story is never going to make sense. For the final half hour or so, Miyazaki seems to be making the whole thing up as he goes along.

The film will work best for those who allow themselves to be carried away by it, as they would a dream. But as a Japanese Alice in Wonderland, it lacks humour or wit. And as a quest saga, it lacks mythic resonance.

Many grown-ups will welcome the fact that this looks so refreshingly different from Disney, but the undisciplined plot and flat dialogue are bound to lessen its impact outside the art houses. Despite its moments of visual grandeur, Spirited Away is so rambling and overlong that I suspect most children are going to be bored by it.

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