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[Sen mainpage] Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
(Spirited Away)

Articles 02

  1. USA Today 1 - September 17, 2002
  2. USA Today 2 - September 17, 2002
  3. Reuters - September 18, 2002
  4. New York Daily News - September 18, 2002
  5. Animation World Magazine - September 15, 2003

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34). USA Today

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 17, 2002

Disney hopes Japanese 'toon casts U.S. spell

By Susan Wloszczyna


The best chance for Japan's thriving cartoon industry to translate into all-ages American success arrives in 10 cities on Friday. Spirited Away, the enchanting tale of a girl who must work in a bathhouse to break a spell that has turned her parents into pigs, has already sunk Titanic to become the most successful film ever in its homeland, with a take of more than $230 million.


Disney has distribution rights and has recruited big-name talent to oversee its pet project's English-language adaptation, including Kirk Wise, co-director of Beauty and theBeast, and John Lasseter, Toy Story's digital wiz who has known Miyazaki for 20 years. Says Pam Coats, Disney's head of animation development, "What I am personally hoping for is it will first reach niche markets like college kids and animé fans, then spread through word of mouth."

The Disney crew was respectful about changes, with just a few explanatory lines added. At 2 hours and 5 minutes, it's at least a half-hour longer than most U.S. animated features. "We were nervous about length," Coats says, "but once it starts playing, kids are riveted."

Daveigh Chase, 12, the voice of Lilo who also did the dubbing for Chihiro, Spirited Away's sulky heroine, agrees. "It's so beautiful, the colors they use. It's very pretty when she runs through the flowers. I think kids will get this."


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35). USA Today

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 17, 2001

Animation virtuoso makes sweet 'toons with Disney

by Susan Wloszczyna

During a rare interview at the Toronto International Film Festival for Spirited Away, about an apathetic girl who musters the courage to survive in a spirit world filled with no-face ghouls, samurai frogs and bloated chicks that look like marshmallow Peeps, he doesn't hesitate to chide Cinderella.

"I felt bad for the evil stepsisters. Couldn't they be a little bit prettier? It would have appeared much more tragic if her sisters had been more charming and the prince had to choose among them."

Any change of heart now that a distribution deal has been struck and one of the directors of Beauty, Kirk Wise, has overseen the English version of Spirited Away?

He chuckles.

"Of course not," he answers through a translator. "All that matters is John Lasseter. He functioned as an enormously effective bulldozer in the face of obstacles. He kept wanting me to come to the States, but I said, 'No, you take care of it.' I trust him implicitly."


Spirited Away offers a good sampler of Miyazaki's trademarks and techniques. He and his staff at Studio Ghibli (pronounced with a soft "g") in Tokyo are as adept at saturating the screen with gorgeous hydrangea bushes as they are at breathtaking action. When Chihiro stumbles down a long series of steep stairs, the audience feels the rush of her downward spiral as if on an out-of-control escalator.

Often, Miyazaki's surreal images are based on fact, such as the slime-coated stink spirit that is bathed by a brave Chihiro and is revealed to be a river god covered in garbage. Says the eco-aware animator, "I helped as a volunteer to clean the local river. And that bike was actually stuck in the sludge. We restored that river so that there's fish swimming in it now."


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36). Reuters

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 18, 2002

Japan Director Miyazaki Offers Complex Kids Tale

by Kevin Krolicki

"Making children's movies ... means presenting the very essence of a complicated world," Miyazaki said recently. "Children understand the complexity and uncertainty of things almost with their skin. They can't be underestimated."

"Spirited Away," which debuts in the United States on Friday, is a magical mystery tour in the tradition of "Alice in Wonderland," the story of a young heroine swept into a secret world that tests and ultimately transforms her.

Along the way, the film touches on such themes as the power of language, importance of perseverance and magic of first love.


Miyazaki is famous for an intuitive approach to telling a story, beginning his work on a film with an incomplete script and working out where the story is going as production rolls on, as he did with "Spirited Away."

The results are sometimes hard to characterize. "There is a view that there has to be a lot of action at the climax of a movie," Miyazaki said. "But at the key moment in this movie a little girl gets on a train. I'm inordinately proud of that."


"Spirited Away" draws heavily on the tradition of Japanese animism, a loose system of religious belief known as Shinto, which became a state cult during World War II.

"Shinto was used by the Japanese state to promote a war of aggression ... so for me, and I think for most Japanese, we have unresolved feelings," said Miyazaki, who said he nonetheless finds comfort in the related notion "that we should treasure everything because gods and spirits might exist there."

Few of these older beliefs, or indeed, many things about Japan's past, are well understood by its youth, he said. "Surrounded by high technology and its flimsy devices, children are more and more losing their roots," he said.


But Miyazaki warms when describing the audience for his movie, the 10-year-olds who see something of themselves in Chihiro as she is torn from parents who appear to only dimly understand her and then returns stronger.

He also hopes children who see his movies now will one day show them to their own children. "After all," he said, "everyone has been 10 years old, or will be."

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37). New York Daily News

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 18, 2002

It's Japanimation's latest sensation

by Andy Bailey


Lasseter, a big fan of Miyazaki's work, says: "The way he stages his action is incredible — it's not just action for action's sake. I also love the quiet moments in his movies. So often these days you get this fast-action cutting, but Miyazaki takes time to show beautiful scenes and simple images."


"I think Miyazaki challenges children more than the classic Disney films," says Helen McCarthy, the London-based author of "Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation" (Stone Bridge Press, $18.95). "He dares them to be more than they are — more than even most adults think they can be. He says, 'Here's the world, what sort of difference are you going to make in it? What kind of person are you going to be? Are you going to be someone who has to exploit others to make yourself feel good, or are you going to be someone who can live a generous life?'"

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38). Animation World Magazine

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 15, 2003

Millennium Actress: The Struggle to Bring Quality Animation to Theaters

by Fred Patten


Spirited Away was up for the 2003 Academy Awards in the new Best Animated Feature Film category. Everyone in the animation industry was hoping that if it won, it would go on to popular success similar to the live-action Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And DreamWorks hoped that Millennium Actress could quickly follow it.

On March 23, 2003, Spirited Away won the coveted Oscar. On the March 28-30 weekend, Disney increased Spirited Away's theatrical distribution from its previous maximum of 151 theaters nationwide to 711 theaters. It was wasted money. Despite all the acclaim, the public was not interested in seeing this foreign theatrical animated feature. Spirited Away had grossed $5,616,071 by the weekend of the Academy Awards presentation. As of September 4, Spirited Away's grosses stood at $10,055,859, meaning that Disney's re-release in more than 500 more theaters brought in less than $4,450,000 more.

This decisively killed any dreams that Millennium Actress could become a box office hit in America. If the American public could not be convinced that Spirited Away is worth seeing as a delightful family film, it appears impossible to win large audiences for an animated feature "about the Japanese movie industry" that is "not for children."


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