copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

Spirited Away was the strangest acid trip I ever had.

Hayao Miyazaki is the master of the gorgeous and lively animation with a kooky side and Spirited Away is arguably his magnum opus. As such it is also the kookiest.

The story is a little hard to describe. The basic premise is that a girl gets stuck in the spirit world, but the larger part of the rest of the story can be described as "random stuff happens". Or sometimes the problem is that for a while not much happens while the mood or tension is being set. This is not necessarily a problem. The story is an experience of exploration and discovery of the world and of the girl's character and that experience is really good.

Also, I may be reading more into this film than there is but there seems to be something more in Spirited Away besides the events at hand. Certain images and characters appear to comment on or be inspired by real life, perhaps specifically of contemporary Japan. There is a ghost character that eventually starts talking with an old person's voice and really wants to be with the little girl, gets offensive and invasive but then explains that he is just really lonely....I don't know.

As the movie was drawing to a close, though, the story started getting wrapped up rather unnaturally. It felt sappy, which is fine for the kids but may be a bit harder to swallow for adults.

There are also some issues with the characters. They are interesting but their behavior changes suddenly, as well as the attitude of other characters towards them. This is possible to attribute to the fact that the characters are spirits, but they behave consistently otherwise so the occasional sudden shift is weird.

Visually...well, visually is what this anime is all about. Miyazaki's style of drawing is a matter of taste, but it can be argued that it is not particular sexy or detailed. The eyes are round, the mouths are simple. However the movement and the colors are great. The animation is very lively. Miyazaki achieves this in part by adding little details, little extra movements that are not necessary but add realism, like someone stumbling briefly. Effort is made to animate the main character's movements that show fear and hesitation, which again gives more life.

Spirited Away is every trippy beautiful experience that requires some patience on the part of the viewer, since actual plot points are somewhat vague, few and far between.

Spirited Away