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

Reviews - Mass Media

  1. The Japan Times - July 25, 2001
  2. International Herald Tribune - August 10, 2001
  3. The Straits Times - January 7, 2002
  4. kulturSpiegel - January 28, 2002
  5. Reuters/Variety Reviews - February 20, 2002
  6. The Financial Times - September 11, 2003
  7. The Guardian - September 12, 2003
  8. BBC News - September 14, 2003

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1). The Japan Times

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

July 25, 2001

Lost and found in a dream

by Mark Schilling

Five out of Five Stars

While "Mononoke Hime" was unapologetically targeted at teenagers and adults, with graphic violence that would have never passed the first reader at Disney (though the Mouse House signed a deal with Studio Ghibli to distribute the film), "Sen to Chihiro" is aimed, says Miyazaki, at 10-year-old girls. Accordingly, it is simpler in everything from language to story line.

It is also a masterwork, my new favorite among Miyazaki's many masterworks; a film whose story -- of a girl's separation from her parents -- is the most primal of all. Here it is told with all the resources at Miyazaki's command, from the richness of his imagination and the force of his moral intelligence, to the superb craft of his Studio Ghibli animators.


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2). International Herald Tribune

The following are representative quotes only:

August 10, 2001

Spirited Away

by Donald Richie

The creator of the famous "Princess Mononoke" returns with a new animated feature that is even better.


Hayao Miyazaki has voiced a distinction between anime and animation. He doesn't think much of the former - all violence and futurology and derring-do. Animation, on the other hand, comes from the world we know - it offers us an interpretation. This is what "Spirited Away" splendidly gives us - an insight into the troubled present and a sense of what we have lost in our neglected past.

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3). The Straits Times

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

January 7, 2002

Zen master helms public anime No. 1

by Ong Sor Fern


This animated movie, the highest-grossing in Japanese film history, is written and directed by the best-kept secret of Japanese animation - the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.

His unique blend of restrained pastoral scenes, lushly rendered in traditional hand-drawn animation style, and stories flavoured with a strong social conscience, presents a more lyrical side of Japanese animation.


In a world brought up on the frenetic pacing and exploding shades of a Technicolored, Dolby-surround sound musical Disney world, Miyazaki's muted lyricism and gentle pacing takes getting used to.

But allow yourself to be spirited away, and there are great rewards in store. You will not regret this trip.

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4). kulturSpiegel

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

Translated from German by Hanno Mueller. Click here for the entire translation. (Spoiler Warning!)

January 28, 2002

Japanese Cinema: The Big Greed

by Wieland Wagner

"Sen to Chihiro" is the most successful non-American movie of all time: A little girl gives Japan redemption from the curse of materialism.


"Sen to Chihiro" is not just a reflection of Japanese fears; it promises hope, as well: Salvation is possible, but only through the next generation's help.


The adventure takes the girl deeper and deeper into the magic spell of its animated world. And this world slowly unfolds to be more beautiful than the concrete reality of the industrial country - as idyllic as Nippon used to be a long long time ago: Beautiful wooden houses, clean rivers. Here is everything that the country sacrified to its obsessive modernization. The drawn mythical land is almost as harmononious as the Japanese theme parks, those professional, arranged entertainment- and escape-worlds at the metropolis's borders.


Brave Chihiro has matured while her parents have kept their narrow minds. But once Chihiro has grown up - this is the hope Miyazaki gives his fellow Japanese - she will protect the nation from itself.

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5). Reuters/Variety Reviews

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

February 20, 2002

'Spirited' Cartoon Charms

by Derek Elley

With the narrative drive of a live-action feature and the imaginative leaps of East Asian manga, Japanimation box office phenom "Spirited Away" is an out-and-out charmer.


Pic is very different in both tone and flavor from "Mononoke," with no eco-message hammered home, no dark violence and an overall lighter, more fantastic feel. In "Spirited Away" Miyazaki creates a whole spirit world that operates by its own natural rules.


Its look is frequently astounding, with a feel of traditional animation that humanizes the movie in a way pure digital animation never can. All drawings, characters and sets were first hand-painted before being digitized for animation and coloring.

"Spirited Away" can be enjoyed by sprigs and adults alike -- a fantasy with substance and developed characters, and a charmer that isn't just cute for its own sake.


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6). The Financial Times

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

September 11, 2003

Cinema: Genius breaking free in a troubled world

by Nigel Andrews

Six stars. Exception must be made for the exceptional. Spirited Away is a feast of wonderment, a movie classic and a joy that will enrich your existence until you too are spirited away.


Like most Japanese animators he is pre-digital. But his handcrafted illuminated manuscripts can blind you with beauty. Spirited Away is about a little girl lost in a derelict theme park whose soaring main mansion is a weekend bathhouse for the gods. Her parents have turned into pigs, as parents sometimes will, and now she must befriend or bargain with the brain-boggling: a multi-limbed boiler tender, his army of soot-spiders, a mud ogre the size of a dirigible, a prince who doubles as a flying eel, and up in the penthouse a ruling gorgon with bouffant hair and harpie features. Imagine Mrs Thatcher seen through a hard-focus haze of hallucinogens.


This is just the tip of the chaos. Gods and monsters soon fill the screen, partying on as if pub hours had been abolished across the cosmos. The mansion itself is mapped, measured and explored with an intricacy worthy of Gormenghast. And Miyazaki supplies a coda - really a whole last act - so ravishing and imaginative that Keatsianly we want to give up and expire on the spot.


I don't expect ever to love a movie more. But then again, maybe I shall. This director's art tells us that transcendence itself can be transcended. For instance, there is always the next Miyazaki film...

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7). The Guardian

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

September 12, 2003

Guardian film of the week

by Peter Bradshaw

Five out of Five Stars

Magical is a word used casually about films like this, films about fantasy and childhood. Yet this one really does deserve it: an enchanted and enchanting feature from the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki which left me feeling lighter than air. It is a beautifully drawn and wonderfully composed work of art - really, no other description will do - which takes us on a rocket-fuelled flight of fancy, with tenderly and shrewdly conceived characters on board.

Before this movie, I was agnostic about Miyazaki and his world-renowned Ghibli studio; I couldn't join in the mass hollering of superlatives that greeted the release of his Princess Mononoke last year. That was striking and distinctive, but I found the kaleidoscope of visual images oddly depthless and psychologically uninvolving and the Japanimated moppet faces an acquired taste. Even now, my euphoria after seeing Spirited Away is soured a smidgen by reading comments by some of its more supercilious cheerleaders, who affect to adore it at the expense of "America" and "Disney": thus fatuously denigrating a great animation tradition to which Miyazaki is patently, and honourably indebted.


The scenes of Yubabu's palace complex seen at dusk across water, at sunrise through the mist, or in moonlight or sunlight made me purr with pleasure. And the compositions of Miyazaki's scenes in a bright flower garden are sublime in their forthright, untarnished innocence.


There is just so much going on in this story that it's impossible to sum up. But it had me utterly involved from the very start, and that's down to the mind-bogglingly superb animation that, for me, had a human and psychologically acute element to add to the expected dimension of hallucinatory fantasy. It's this that makes the claim of "masterpiece" so plausible - that, and the wit, playfulness and charm that Miyazaki mixes into the proceedings.


Spirited Away is fast and funny; it's weird and wonderful. Mostly wonderful.

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8). BBC News

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

September 14, 2003

Spirited cartoon is enthralling

by Caroline Westbrook

2-D animation has taken something of a battering recently, due to the onset of computer animated features, with the likes of Toy Story and Finding Nemo outgrossing more traditional cartoon fare.

But Spirited Away, which blends Alice In Wonderland-style storytelling and surreal imagery to winning effect, breathes new life into the format.


Quite simply, it is one of the most beautiful, original films for ages - and one of the best you are likely to see all year.

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