Spirited Away (impressions - Articles)

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This page contains various media mentions of the film Spirited Away.

Variety Extra

December 15, 1999

Mononoke creator Miyazaki toons up pic

By Jon Herskovitz

TOKYO --- Famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki is back at work on a new feature film, ending a two-and-a-half-year filmmaking hiatus after his last movie, Princess Mononoke, broke the local box office record for a Japanese film.

In the follow-up to the epic Princess, which took in more than $150 million at the Japanese B.O., Miyazakis project, titled Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, is a simpler tale of a 10-year-old girl whose parents are transformed into pigs.

The movie has a production budget of 2 billion yen ($19.2 million) and the same production team that was behind Princess -- Tokuma Shoten Publishing, Miyazakis Studio Ghibli, advertising giant Dentsu Inc. and top-rated net NTV -- are the producers of the pic along with Disney and Tohoku Shinsha, Studio Ghibli president Toshio Suzuki said.

Suzuki said the movie will hit Japanese theaters for the summer 2001 holiday, and that talk swirling around the local movie industry that Miyazaki had retired from the movie business "was a misunderstanding."

Miyazaki started work on his new movie earlier this year and was waiting until another film from Studio Ghibli, My Neighbors the Yamadas, had made its way through theaters before announcing his return, industry sources said.

The new fantasy movie of a young girl facing an unlikely new world is reminiscent of earlier Miyazaki films and is all but certain to be one of the highest-grossing films of the summer season.

Disney teamed up in 1996 with Tokuma Shoten, parent company of Studio Ghibli, and agreed to distribute eight animated features made by Miyazaki worldwide, along with taking Princess to theaters outside of Japan, where it added a couple of million dollars to its gross through a limited release by Miramax.

Copyright 1999 Variety, Inc.


The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://asia.cnn.com/2001/BUSINESS/asia/08/02/japan.spirited/index.html

August 3, 2001

Japan falls under blockbuster movie's spell

by Alex Frew McMillan

While the fairytale cartoon Shrek fills movie screens worldwide, Japan is caught under another celluloid spell.

Spirited Away, the latest movie from famed animator Hayao Miyazaki, has blown out box office records there since it opened on July 20.

The cartoon had the biggest opening weekend in history for a movie in Japan. And sales haven't slowed much, falling just 2 percent last weekend.



The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011113/re/entertainment_japan_movie_dc_1.html

November 13, 2001

Japan Animated Film Director Has Scant U.S. Hopes

by Kazunori Takada

Domestic success for his latest box office hit, the animated movie ``Spirited Away, probably won't be duplicated in America, Japan's Hayao Miyazaki said on Tuesday.


"I think a small number of the people will understand the film and that is more than enough," he said. "Some think being popular in the United States is the best thing, but I think it is wrong to think that way. "Movies are said to be international, but I don't think so."


Miyazaki said he didn't really know why the movie became such a huge hit, but hoped that it would have staying power.

"I wanted a make a movie which the children who watch it will want to show to their children when they grow up."

New York Post

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/38825.htm

January 13, 2002


by Joslyn Yang


Despite financial flops like "Princess Mononoke," optimism for anime is sky high. Two new films, "Metropolis" and "Spirited Away," are already sparking great expectations.

Disney and DreamWorks, in fact, have locked horns over the rights to "Spirited Away," Japan's all-time No. 1 box-office champ.


But there's no guarantee "Spirited Away" will fare well in the United States. "Princess Mononoke," Miyazaki's other hit movie, grossed $150 million in Japan but earned less than $3 million in the United States, after Disney spent close to $2.1 million to hire A-list stars to dub the movie.


"Spirited Away" stands a better chance because it can appeal to a wider audience, said John O'Donnell, member of the business advisory board at the Big Apple Anime Fest.


"It has beauty, power, mystery and, above all, heart," said "Titanic" director James Cameron, a fan of the film, which was a hit in its native Japan.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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

Translated from German by Hanno Mueller. Click here for the entire translation.

February 10, 2002

"Spirited Away" - an animated voyage to the Japanese Wonderland

by Manfred Bittner

The animated feature "Spirited Away" ("Sen to Chihiro No Kamikakushi"), director Hayao Miyazaki's entry to the competition, shows how ten year old Chihiro finds herself - almost like an Asian Alice in Wonderland - and her parents in a world of gods, ghosts, witches, fantasy creatures and talking animals.


"Spirited Away" is a childrens' movie that is less built on the quality of its artwork and more on its ideas: Small bugs that squeakingly carry heavy pieces of coal to the fire, or a fat rat with huge saucer eyes that is flown around by a panting fly.


"Spirited Away" is a splendid piece of entertainment for children and a beautiful diversion among an exhausting Berlinale competition, but it in no way is it a candidate for the awards.

Japan Today

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=1&id=200469

February 11, 2002

Japan's animation king to take on world

by Philip Blenkinsop

Do Hayao Miyazaki and the Ghibli Studios ring any bells? If you live outside Asia, they may not yet, but could do soon.


"We will have an English version out soon...If you try to make a good film, everyone will come and see it," said Toshio Suzuki, Ghibli president and the film's producer.

Miyazaki's film takes some explaining and is unfamiliar fare to Western audiences, more used to what Suzuki describes as "animation musicals" than "animation films."


"I can drop a hint that it'll take less time to reach the international market than 'Princess Mononoke,'" Suzuki said, responding to criticism over the slow roll out of that film.


Suzuki believes the fact that "Spirited Away" is one of 23 films in competition for the Berlin Film Festival's coveted Gold Bear is recognition of sorts.

"If I were on the jury, I would put this at the top of the list. However, I'm happy that we've been accepted. Animation films are never accepted as films in competition," he said.

Guardian Unlimited

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/culturalexchange/story/0,11113,649152,00.html

February 12, 2002

Breaking down cinema's walls

by Kate Connolly


The Japanese animation Sen To Chihiro no Kamikakushi, or Spirited Away, brings huge pleasure, particularly to those who've not yet come across the director Hayao Miyazaki, creator of Princess Mononoke and Manga. Described as an Asian version of Alice in Wonderland, it is set in a Japanese bathhouse, in a fairytale world of dragons, witches and exhausted gods, and tells the story of 10-year old Chihiro, who is allowed to stay in this strange world as long as she succeeds in hunting down an evil witch called Yubaba, and gives up being human. It is the tale of a little girl reaching out to find herself, and possibly, of a whole society doing the same. It is the first animation film to find its way into the competition section of the festival, and has so far grossed $250m in Japan, where it is now the most successful non-English language film ever.

It is to be hoped that a festival like this might succeed in broadening horizons - but the question all the critics are asking is whether Spirited Away's alternative way of looking at the world can succeed in the United States?

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The following are representative quotes only.

Translated from German by Havel Ormaci. Click here for the entire translation and translation notes.

February 13, 2002

Cartoon as Japanese Wonderweapon, now already a classic: Hayao Miyazaki's "Chihiro's Voyage" in the running

by Andreas Platthaus


And by the way, Miyazaki endows his thanks dearly in that he takes heartily. This master eclectic could not have bestowed a higher honor to his predecessors. His heroine is suddenly placed with her parents in a colorful city, one that could have come straight out of Walt Disneys "Pinocchio". Still to this day is this movie from 1940 is the benchmark for all animations, and perhaps nobody else has come so close to that genius as Miyazaki has with his fantastic hommage of those ghostly five minutes in the Japanese pleasure island, a place where thoughtless humans are turned to useful livestock, as it already happened previously with Pinocchio.


This movie is a big leap (see note 15), and when after 1938 a big festival finally musters up the courage to award a cartoon - at that time Disneys "Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarves" won in Venice, then Miyazakis movie would be the right choice. "Chihiro's Voyage" is in competition in the Berlinale, there also where "Princess Mononoke" ought to have been, which in 1998 was displayed outside of the competitive event. Miyazaki is now sixty, for almost four decades he was Japans foremost animator, for the last twenty years he is the most important in the world. With "Chihiros Voyage" he has managed to take it one step further. He has made a movie that can immediately be categorized as a classic. Topic, meaning and movielingo (literal translation) point to Miyazaki as the legitimate heir of Kurosawa. What a mighty wind there blows, in the far east.

Financial Times

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://specials.ft.com/timeoff/film/FT3GTDE0PXC.html

February 14, 2002

Berlin: Old certainties at the new festival

by Nigel Andrews

There is a new festival director, a new focus on native cinema and a new festival motto: "Accept diversity." So how come the new Berlin Film Festival feels amazingly like the old one?


Back in competition, five movies are jostling for a lead in the Golden Bear race. The non-Hollywood front-runners are France's Eight Women, Germany's Grill Point and Japan's Spirited Away. The last - my favourite - is a spellbinding animation feature from Hayao Miyazaki, whose Princess Mononoke was the peak of late 20th century Japanese graphic cinema. Here again are the brilliance of storytelling - a girl sundered from her parents wanders into a ruined theme park (so-seeming) peopled by gods, monsters and mettle-testing marvels - and the images you could dream about forever. The giant stink god who galumphs into the ornately ancient bath-house as tall as the Tower of Babel; the bath-house itself, where Kafkaesque tiers of workers are ruled by a penthouse-dwelling harridan (very Mrs T); the train that rides through the sea; the faceless ghost who pads poignantly in our heroine's wake like a benign refugee from Scream. The digitally enhanced colour and camerawork are sensational. Distributors, buy now while rights are affordable.


BBC News

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/film/newsid_1825000/1825993.stm

February 17, 2002

Bloody Sunday wins Golden Bear

by BBC Staff

Paul Greengrass' controversial film Bloody Sunday has won the coveted Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival. The film, about the shooting of 13 civilians in Londonderry in 1972, shares the prize with Japanese animated feature Spirited Away.

In all, 23 films were in competition at the Berlinale, and the ten-member international jury was headed by Indian-born and US-based director Mira Nair, the woman behind Monsson Wedding.


Yahoo! News

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020217/film_nm/arts_berlinale_dc_20

February 17, 2002

'Bloody Sunday,' Japanese Cartoon Share Berlin Bear

by Erik Kirschbaum

A dramatization of the 1972 "Bloody Sunday" massacre in Northern Ireland and the Japanese animated fantasy "Spirited Away" shared the Golden Bear award for best film at the Berlin Film Festival on Sunday.


But the judges also loved Hayao Miyazaki's "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi" (Spirited Away), a cartoon feature about a young girl's adventures in a land of goblins and gods, and decided to share the Berlinale's top award between the two films.

The jury's president, Indian director Mira Nair, said the judges split the Golden Bear because "the more the merrier."


Miyazaki's animated adventure broke box office records back home in Japan, where 21 million people saw it, and enthralled audiences on its international debut in the German capital.


The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.perlentaucher.de/index.php4?site=/artikel/show.php4?aid=571

Translated from German by Hanno Mueller. Click here for the entire translation.

February 17, 2002

Breathless Berlinale, 12th day One Golden Bear to cheer and one to cry about

by Ekkehard Knoerer


One cannot call the 2002 selection outstanding, a true masterpiece wasn't seen this year, at least not in the competition.

So it's all too appropriate that the Golden Bear was given to two movies this time. A wonderful decision that surely won't find unanimous approval is the Golden Bear for "Spirited Away"


But the movie's invitation to the festival was a true event, already: For the first time since 1951, when Disney's "Cinderella" got a Golden Bear at the first Berlinale, an animated feature took part within the regular competition.


With few exceptions, the German feuilleton [= culture critics] refused to admit the greatness/genius of the animated images - so one can only be happy with the jury's decision.

Berliner Morgenpost

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://morgenpost.berlin1.de/inhalt/feuilleton/story498960.html

Translated from German by Hanno Mueller. Click here for the entire translation.

February 17, 2002

For the first time, an animated feature receives the Golden Bear award - but only half of it

by Peter Zander

A sensation at the Berlinale! For the first time, an animated feature receives the main award - at least half of it. A Golden Bear for the Japanese fantasy adventure 'Spirited Away' by Hayao Miyazaki. A movie that is tough to pin down, that is art, not art business, that is about children but made for adults - and that broke every box office record and even sank the 'Titanic'.


So, this year's decision of the jury is a proof courage. In a bland competition without scheming in the background (as it often happened in past festivals), but that didn't present any masterpieces, either (such as 'Magnolia' two years ago) - here, 'Spirited Away' was indeed a very outstanding competitior with its bursting imagination and impressive poetry. But noone thought the secret insider's tip had any serious chances for an award - because after all, it's 'just' an animated feature.


Screen Daily

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.screendaily.com/shtml_files/story7366.shtml

February 17, 2002

Spirited Away, Bloody Sunday share Golden Bear

by Martin Blaney


This is the second time in the history of the Berlin festival that an animated feature walked away with top honours, as Walt Disney�s Cinderella received a Golden Berlin Bear in the music film category at the Berlinale�s first outing back in 1951.

International jury president Mira Nair used her considerable charm to defuse some critics� audible disappointment at the awards press conference on the Golden Bear being split between two titles (although they clearly had no problems with the films chosen) declaring "you must celebrate, for the more the merrier!".


Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

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

Translated from German by Hanno Mueller. Click here for the entire translation.

February 18, 2002

52nd Berlinale: The high spirited festival

by Brigitte Desalm


For the jury of Mira Nair didn't even care a bit about the movie critics' score sheets [...] Their outstanding favourite was the boulevard musical comedy "8 Femmes" by Francois Ozon. It will certainly be a big movie success, but still it doesn't have the award-worthy format as e.g. Alain Resnais' ice-breaker of this old-new genre, "Smokling / No Smoking".

And so, highest respect for the decision to give the award to "Bloody Sunday". [...] But the jury continued and made a statement for the long undervalued/underestimated genre of animation (which is now also found worth its own Oscar category). The award for "Spirited Away", a variation on "Alice on Wonderland" is certainly justified for Japanese animation guru Hayao Miyiazki's outstanding artistry/craftmanship.


Berliner Zeitung

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.BerlinOnline.de/aktuelles/berliner_zeitung/feuilleton/.html/118771.html

Translated from German by Hanno Mueller. Click here for the entire translation.

February 18, 2002

by Anke Westphal

The second Golden Bear award was given to the movie with the most moving/haunting images. 'Spirited Away' by Miyazaki Hayao is the first animated feature ever to receive the Berlinale main award.

A decision that will have put many newspapers' editorial departments in big trouble [to report about it due to lack of knowledge about the movie] - German movie critics still dismiss animated features as inferiour kid's stuff.

Hardly any of them thought it was even necessairy to visit the press screening of 'Spirited Away'; and during the press conference, producer Suzuki Toshia was confronted with empty rows of chairs. The Golden Bear award for Miyazaki Hayao is a painful slap in the face of the German feuilleton [= culture critics of the press].

Japan Today

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=1&id=201672

February 18, 2002

"Spirited Away" wins top award at Berlin Film Festival

by Japan Today Staff


"The prize this time serves as a great source of inspiration for people engaging in production of animation in the world," Miyazaki said in a message read at the festival.


I thought the film was a bit too Japanese-like to be appreciated. But I'm interested in the fact that Europeans appreciated it," Miyazaki, who did not attend the festival, told reporters in Tokyo. The Japanese director is most famous for his 1997 animated film "Princess Mononoke."


"I'm afraid an animation film is still differentiated from an ordinary picture film, and I don't like that. That's why I'm happy that my work was treated as one film," Miyazaki said.

Hamburger Abendblatt

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.abendblatt.de/contents/ha/news/feuilleton/html/180202/0618AUFM0.HTM

Translated from German by Hanno Mueller. Click here for the entire translation.

February 18, 2002

Critics struck by thunder

by Barbara Möller

Murphy's law says: What can go wrong, will. And thus, not only did the Japanese animated feature "Spirited Away" by Hayao Miyazaki receive a Golden Bear award, but the British-Irish competitior "Bloody Sunday" by Paul Greengrass, too.


Never mind animated features, Miyazaki's story about a ten year old girl in a ghost world is very nice [the author is using a condescending way of saying "nice" as in "well, it's nice, but that's it, already"] and a true box office magnet in Japan, but worth a Bear it wasn't.


When the jury's vote was made public, the assembled international movie critics were first silent as if struck by thunder, then they expressed their resentment. And that even more when the Indian jury president Mira Nair explained that one wanted to celebrated "the political viewpoint".

Frankfurter Rundschau

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.frankfurterrundschau.de/fr/140/t140001.htm

Translated from German by Hanno Mueller. Click here for the entire translation.

February 18, 2002

They called the spirits

by Daniel Kothenschulte


The true sensation however is the second half of the Goldbear, a decision that even the most optimistic adovates of an artistic new beginning could not expect to happen. The jury shows its courage to a new start with its choice of the Japanese animated feature Spirited Away, the first competitor since Disney's Bear-awarded Cinderella at the first festival in 1951.


In the twilight of Japanese and European culture traditions the silver screens returns for a moment to what the creates of Caligari once asked for, to pure graphic - and in the next moment, completely embraces the viewer in its virtual surrealism. Right at this point, the festival should continue and follow the animated feature competitors of Cannes and Venice - maybe, in the end, it will find the blend of audio-acustic art forms that give the festival an artistic sense, again.


Financial Times

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://specials.ft.com/timeoff/film/FT3KPJPTUXC.html

February 18, 2002

Berlin: Bears flock to the honey

by Nigel Andrews

The jury for the 52nd Berlin Film Festival should have awarded a Golden Bear to itself. "Best and bravest performance by 10 people banged up in a room after watching 50 hours of celluloid." I practically leaped up to the ceiling - there are witnesses - on hearing that Indian filmmaker Mira Nair's judging panel had honoured the Japanese animation feature Spirited Away. When I had raved about Hayao Miyazaki's film to colleagues, praising its beauty, humour and magical storytelling, they said, "Yes, yes, but an animated film can never win the Golden Bear." To which I now say, as Russell Crowe expressed it one day when rubbed the wrong way by Berlin pressfolk, "You can put your scepticism where the sun don't shine." This, as noted last week, is a Japanese Alice in Wonderland with enchantment in every frame. Glory to Team Mira for its wisdom, even though it split the Bear - never a pleasant task - between Miyazaki and Britain's Paul Greengrass, who won half a golden grizzly for the much-admired verismo of Bloody Sunday.


Der Tagesspiegel

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www2.tagesspiegel.de/archiv/2002/02/17/ak-so-be-5515163.html

Translated from German by Dietmar Sievers.

February 18, 2002

The final fantasy The Berlinale-Jury put a provokation: Golden Bear for "Sen to Chihiro" and "Bloody Sunday"

by Jan Schulz-Ojala


"Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi" (Spirited Away) from Hayao Miyazaki, who invents the japanese bestselling film "Princess Mononoke" bevore, is doubtless a nice and imaginative animation film.


The film tells his story stringent and eventful, it is made for the big children in us. This film is good. But are the grown-up storys and the real existing actors on this festival so good-for-nothing, to deserve that collective slap in the face?


Japan Today

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=1&id=202079

February 20, 2002

Miyazaki says Japan animation faces dead end

by Kitano Masayuki

Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki said on Tuesday he was delighted his film "Spirited Away" had become the first animated movie to win top honors at the Berlin Film Festival, but he was glum about the future of animation in Japan.


Despite the success of the film, Miyazaki said he was pessimistic about the future of the animation industry, and the publicity fanned by the award could leave Japan more embarrassed than proud.


"I wonder why there are so many films that contain so much violence and feature sexual content," Miyazaki said.

"So I think there is a chance that the spread of Japanese animation overseas might only lead to embarrassment," he said.


Watching animation films for four or five hours won't create anything, he said. "This is a true dilemma for me," said Miyazaki, adding that the aim of his films was to make children happy.


The Economist

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.economist.com/books/displayStory.cfm?story_id=998279

February 21, 2002

Box-office draw

by The Economist Staff


"Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi"�to give "Spirited Away" its Japanese title�is anime, Japan's answer to Disney cartoons. But it is not the usual grimy, gory, futuristic anime. Hayao Miyazaki, the film's director, has reached back into Japan's folkloric past, as well as "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", to craft something more substantial.


"Spirited Away" opens in France this summer; an English version will follow in the autumn. Can a Japanese blockbuster really make it in the West? Toshio Suzuki, who produced "Spirited Away", certainly is hopeful. "Miracles happen," he says.

Japan Today

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=1&id=202659

February 22, 2002

Miyazaki's hit animation faces uncertain reception in U.S.

by Isabel Reynolds

"Spirited Away," the highest-ever grossing film in Japan scooped up the top award at the Berlin Film Festival last Sunday, but critics say box office success in the world's other major film markets is far from assured.


One of the problems faced by "Princess Mononoke" in the U.S. was that its target audience of children was deterred by its PG-13 rating, indicating parents were strongly cautioned the film might contain material inappropriate for children under 13.

"The Japanese are much more relaxed about how much violence their children see...'Mononoke' was recommended for children, even though you actually see a samurai's head being cut off for example," said Daisuke Onitsuka, a film critic and university lecturer.


"I think it is more suitable for young adults than for children," said the magazine critic. "I've heard a lot of my friends' children cried because they found it frightening."


At a recent weekday lunchtime showing of "Spirited Away," the audience consisted almost entirely of adults.

"Up until now I thought manga was for children, but I wanted to see this film because it had become such a talking point," said housewife Atsuko Hiyoki, who praised the film for its dream-like quality.


U.S. distribution details for the film are to be announced shortly, Studio Ghibli said.


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

April 11, 2002

Disney Acquires Domestic Theatrical, Home Entertainment and TV Rights To Japan's All-Time Top Grossing Film, Miyazaki's Animated 'Spirited Away'

by Buena Vista Pictures Marketing

The Walt Disney Studios has acquired all domestic theatrical, home entertainment and television rights to Hayao Miyazaki's animated masterpiece, "Spirited Away," Japan's all-time top grossing film


Acclaimed director John Lasseter ("Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," "Toy Story 2"), executive vice president, creative for Pixar Animation Studios, will serve as creative consultant for the newly dubbed version.


Cook said, "We are thrilled to be associated with the great Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli in bringing 'Spirited Away' to audiences around the world. This film has already become a box office phenomenon in Japan and its visionary story and artistry is sure to be a hit with moviegoers all over the globe. Disney and Miramax have had a very successful collaboration with Studio Ghibli in the past and we are extremely proud to be extending that relationship with this truly extraordinary film. John Lasseter brings a love and respect for Miyazaki's work to his role as creative consultant and will help ensure that this film reaches the widest possible audience in its domestic release."


Johnson noted, "Disney has had a great working relationship with Miyazaki and his associates at Studio Ghibli over the past six years and we consider it an honor to be bringing these exceptional works of art and entertainment to movie fans all over the world. Miyazaki's films have universal appeal and 'Spirited Away' is sure to find a receptive audience in theaters everywhere and in the international home entertainment markets."


The Hollywood Reporter

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

April 12, 2002

Dis importing Miyazaki ani

by Josh Spector


The film, which grossed $234 million in Japan, will be released Stateside in the fall after "Toy Story" director and Pixar Animation honcho John Lasseter serves as creative consultant for a newly dubbed version.

"This is one of the greatest animated films ever made, and I absolutely love it," Lasseter said. "My job will be to act as the guardian of this amazing work."

Lasseter said no cuts have been made to the film and that the animation will not be altered in any way. He is overseeing the translation of the script and the voice casting.


The project is the latest deal between Disney, Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. In 1998, Buena Vista Home Entertainment released "Kiki's Home Delivery Service" and followed that with the release of "Princess Mononoke." The studio also is preparing several of Miyazaki's other films for release on video and DVD this year.

BBC News

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/film/newsid_1939000/1939090.stm

April 12, 2002

Japanese hit cartoon gets US release

by Chloe Veltman


Andrew Osmond, a member of the team that administrates the main Studio Ghibli fansite, Nausicaa.net, believes that Spirited Away will be more successful in introducing wider audiences to anime.

"Spirited's main character, Chihiro, is instantly sympathetic to children in a way Mononoke's hero Ashitaka wasn't," he said.

"Spirited is very different from Mononoke, and shouldn't be written off because Mononoke failed."

John Lasseter, who directed box office hit Toy Story is the creative consultant for the English version of Spirited Away.


A long-time fan of Miyazaki, whom he deferentially refers to as "Miyazaki-San," Lasseter sees himself as "the guardian of Miyazaki-San's vision".


In turning Chihiro's life on its head, forcing her to learn real values, the movie carries a distinct message he said, adding: "Miyazaki-San makes movies for a reason, but he doesn't hit people over the head with it."


The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_27/b3790630.htm

July 8, 2002


by BusinessWeek Staff

In Japan, animation is considered a high art, and no artist is more esteemed than film director Hayao Miyazaki.


Miyazaki is admired for the shimmering bucolic settings and other-worldly creatures in films such as My Neighbor Totoro, which are mostly hand-drawn. The specters in Spirited Away are far more pleasing to the eye than other Japanese animation icons, such as Pokemon. Nor does this film or previous works--such as Miyazaki's 1997 release Princess Mononoke, which pulled in $208 million that year--follow the formulaic plots of anime, which rely on violence, gore, and thinly-clad female characters. Miyazaki's themes reject the crass materialism of modern society and focus instead on self-reliance and quiet determination. He also weaves a fair amount of environmentalism and humanism into his works.


Since 1985, Miyazaki has been associated with Studio Ghibli, an animation studio fully dedicated to producing his works. Although Miyazaki isn't a young man, he shows no signs of slowing down. He has several unnamed projects in the works. Miyazaki once said that he measures the success of his films not by box-office receipts but by whether his young fans today will want to show his works to their children 20 or 30 years from now. Given the appeal of his films to adults and children around the world, that seems a sure bet.

Wall Street Journal

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/020719/72/30nxm.html

July 19, 2002

Lost in the Translation? Disney Tries to Sell Kids On a Japanese Cartoon; Having Pigs for Parents

by Tom King


"Granted, there are certain aspects that will make it challenging" to sell U.S. moviegoers on "Spirited Away," says Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios. But he thinks its "visionary story and artistry" could make it a hit, noting the film recently toppled "Titanic" in Japan to become that country's biggest movie of all time. The plot? A 10-year-old girl encounters strange creatures after her parents are turned into pigs.


A major issue that concerned Disney initially was the film's length: At two hours and 20 minutes, it's far longer than the 90-minute range of most U.S. cartoon movies. Mr. Miyazaki, eager to burnish his reputation in the U.S. after the failure of "Princess Mononoke" here, said he would go along with any cuts -- if they were supervised by Mr. Lasseter.


In the end, the two executives decided not to cut a single frame. "I think little kids can sit there and watch a lot longer than we think they can," Ms. Coats says.


Now "Spirited Away" will hit screens Sept. 20 -- after the kids are back in school. No problem, says Mr. Cook: "While we hope that we'll be able to get kids, initially our audience is going to be adults who appreciate the art of animation."


Christian Science Monitor

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/020719/72/30nxm.html

August 9, 2002

A Japanese animator with a timeless style

by Marjorie Coeyman

He has sometimes been called the Walt Disney of Japan. But while the works of Disney are rarely mentioned in the same breath as those of Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the films of Hayao Miyazaki frequently are.


Miyazaki's work has gained global popularity for many reasons.

He is a skilled craftsman, and one of the few directors in the world of animation who personally checks every key frame, reworking ones that are not to his satisfaction.

On the storytelling side, he has also succeeded in creating protagonists – often, as in "Spirited Away," young girls – who move and act and think like little girls, and who offer the kind of role models adults are happy to place before children's eyes.


"[Miyazaki] has an ability to bring up the past in a way that is nostalgic and moving and richer and more magical than the real past," says Professor Napier.

"It's all the more poignant because there is a sense of loss," Napier adds. "He has an agenda. He wants to wake people up to what they're losing – the environment, the family."

And yet, she points out, his messages are not antimodern or anti-Western. On the contrary, one of his great loves is for Italy, and European castles and images permeate many of his films.

One of the surprises for some Western viewers is that Miyazaki's adventure stories don't deal in simple good and evil dualities, but rather, create more nuanced characters and situations in a fashion that some say mirrors traditional Japanese folklore.


As a foreigner, Mr. Hollander says he thoroughly enjoys Miyazaki's films but sometimes feels frustrated watching them, as he misses things like references to certain Japanese gods or spirits.

But that's also what he admires about Miyazaki – the feeling that he's just trying to tell his story, and not worrying about speaking to Western audiences.

It is really to children that he most hopes to speak, Miyazaki once told a Japanese interviewer.

He would like to show them the world as it might be, rather than as it really is. His real motive, he said, is simply to give them hope.

In Focus

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.infocusmag.com/02september/spirited.htm

September 2002

Spirited Away

by Mike Russell

In America, Hiyao Miyazaki is a cult hero. In Japan, he�s a minor deity. The 61-year-old animator and comic-book artist directs thoughtful, gorgeous cartoon epics � movies packed with fantastic creatures and a love of nature, flight and adventure � that consistently break box-office records in his native Japan.


Now Disney � led by Miyazaki�s friend of two decades, "Toy Story" director John Lasseter � is taking another stab at selling Miyazaki to Joe and Jane Sixpack. Under Lasseter�s guiding hand, The House of Walt is bringing "Spirited Away" to these shores. An even bigger hit in Japan than "Mononoke," it�s the story of a spoiled 10-year-old girl who stumbles onto a ghost town/bathhouse run by gods and monsters while on a road trip with her parents � who are, incidentally, turned into pigs. It�s been described as "Alice and Wonderland" filtered through Japanese mythology, and it stands a chance at scoring with audiences turned off by the somber, adult tones of "Mononoke."

In Focus scored an e-mail interview with the mildly reclusive director, who spends much of his time in a mountain cabin between projects for Studio Ghibli, the animation house he helped found in 1985. Here�s what he had to say about making films for 10-year-olds, working without a script, and the differences between American and Japanese animation.


On a related note: You�ve also said that you "find" rather than "tell" the story. Do you see what you do primarily as an act of discovery or as an act of creation?

Once you create characters, these characters tell me what they want to do or how they feel. I just follow their wishes. I just follow their feelings and behavior and write the story.


What�s next for you? You occasionally threaten to retire, but do you have any new film ideas you�re considering?

I am currently working on several short animated films as well as a special exhibition for the Ghibli Museum, which opened last October. One of the short films we have just about finished is about the character Mei from "My Neighbor Totoro" and her encounter with a baby "cat bus." The new exhibition has to do with imagined flying machines from 19th-century works of science fiction in the style of "Laputa: Castle in the Sky." I have also just begun to work on another feature-length animated film, but I�m afraid I can�t tell you at this moment any details about it, except that I am working on it.


LA Times

The following are representative quotes only

September 8, 2002

Entering Strange Realms

by Charles Solomon


"He is one of the great filmmakers of our time and has been a tremendous inspiration to our generation of animators," says John Lasseter, the Academy Award-winning director of the "Toy Story" films. "At Pixar, when we have a problem that we can't seem to solve, we often look at one of Miyazaki's films."


In recent years, American animated features have become increasingly realistic as filmmakers have turned to computer graphics for three-dimensional settings and effects. Miyazaki reasserts the power of drawn animation to create fantasies, offering an alternate reality that is refreshingly free of overarticulated details. Instead of rendering thousands of individual blades of grass bending in the wind, he suggests a breeze passing over a grassy hillside by moving a rippling line of color over a painted background. The result is poetic rather than literal. American directors use MTV-style cutting and endless tracking shots; Miyazaki allows quiet moments to play out, telling the story visually rather than through dialogue or songs.


Although Americans spend more than half a billion dollars on anim� (Japanese animation) on video and DVD annually, Japanese features have failed to attract large audiences to U.S. theaters. Despite considerable press attention, "Metropolis," based on a manga (graphic novel) by Osamu Tezuka, earned a mere $253,000 in a limited U.S. release earlier this year. Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke," which earned a then-record-breaking $154 million in Japan, made only $2.4 million when Miramax released it theatrically in the U.S. in 1999.

I am currently working on several short animated films as well as a special exhibition for the Ghibli Museum, which opened last October. One of the short films we have just about finished is about the character Mei from "My Neighbor Totoro" and her encounter with a baby "cat bus." The new exhibition has to do with imagined flying machines from 19th-century works of science fiction in the style of "Laputa: Castle in the Sky." I have also just begun to work on another feature-length animated film, but I�m afraid I can�t tell you at this moment any details about it, except that I am working on it.

Disney and Pixar executives, along with members of the animation community who have seen the film, think "Spirited Away" could be the 61-year-old Miyazaki's breakthrough in America. It's opening in 10 cities and will build to a nationwide release, according to Disney, which is planning a major advertising campaign.


The studio brought in Kirk Wise ("Beauty and the Beast," "Atlantis: The Lost Empire") to direct the English-language version of the film. Wise said he felt as if he was doing his job backward.

"On a typical American animated feature, we record the voices first, then create the images to go with them," he explained. "Here the images were already done and in full color; we had to find Western voices that would fit those images."

Creating the English-language version posed special problems for the actors, writers and director. Not only did the script have to preserve the meaning of the original, but each line had to have about the same number of syllables, so the new dialogue could be synchronized with the existing animation.


"To my way of thinking, 'Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi' left home and went off to America to become 'Spirited Away,' " he concluded. "It's almost as if I'd seen my daughter go away to school in America. I'm sure John Lasseter has done a good job, but I wouldn't be surprised if she comes back a little bit Americanized and speaking with a slight foreign accent."

Toronto Star

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_PrintFriendly&c=Article&cid=1026145158787

September 13, 2002

Spirited Away gets extra word

by Sid Adilman


Instead of relying on the English title, Spirited Away, by which the movie is known internationally and under which it won the top prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival, Disney added his name to it.

It's now Miyazaki's Spirited Away, despite the fact his name is not known to the average North American moviegoer and will not be a box office lure.

A spokesperson for Disney's distribution office in Toronto said the name is now attached to the title, but gave no reason.


At first, Miyazaki's interpreter refused to interpret my question to him about why Disney added his name. "I certainly wouldn't call it Miyazaki's Spirited Away and he wouldn't either," she said.

When I pressed, he said Spirited Away is the title, no extra word added.

Stating neither he nor many senior staff at his Tokyo animation studio speak English, he could not react to what critics have been saying about the flat dubbing. He said he left all the dubbing and dealings with Disney to U.S. director John Lassiter, "whom I trust the most of all Americans I have know."


And he insisted although the world he created for the movie is a "fabrication, I didn't lie. It's all about the truth. Everything I wanted to say is in this movie.

"The worst movies are those that lie to you while pretending to show you real life. Kids know that is a lie. I'm dealing with real issues."

Rafu Shimpo

September 14, 2002

His Uncompromising 'Spirit'

Legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki discusses his ideals and art, ahead of the release of 'Spirited Away'

By Mikey Culross

For some, there was an amount of irony in the mere presence of Hayao Miyazaki.

The Japanese writer/director has long been lauded by many as the greatest animator who has ever lived, superior even to Walt Disney. So the fact that his new film, Spirited Away, (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) is being released in the United States by Disney, and that its premiere is at the mouse's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood has inescapable symbolism.

Miyazaki address a small group of reporters at the theatre last Tuesday, ahead of a private screening, and touched upon how this film, as well as other Japanese anime, could be an introduction for American audiences to some aspects of Japanese culture.

"I would like them to leave the theater with a sense of humility about the complexity and difficulty of the world we live in," Miyazaki said through an interpreter. "I think any encounter with film is always an encounter with something new."

Spirited Away, which begins a run at the El Capitan on Sept. 20, is a story of a young girl named Chihiro who is left to fend for herself in an ethereal world when her parents mysteriously transform into hogs after devouring an anattended smorgasbord of food.

Wandering into a hot spa resort for ghosts and goblins, including talking frogs and 20-foot babies, Chihiro learns that she must first work under the head onsen mistress, Yu-baba, in order to find her parents and return home. Throughout her adventure she is guided by a young boy named Haku who becomes her protector and seeming love interest.

Disney has released several of Miyazaki's films in this country, the last of which was 1999's Princess Mononoke, whose performance at the box office was disappointing by Magic Kingdom standards. The director shook off the matter.

"I am not in favor of evaluating a film's worth based on box office receipts. A film should represent a very intimate personal encounter between what's on the screen and what's in an individual's heart."

Spirited Away is the highest grossing film in Japanese box office history, totaling $324 million dollars in ticket sales.

Regarding comparison between his staff and Disney animators, he said, "We're alarmingly similar. We all good-hearted."

A key to Miyazaki's art (as well as his success) has been his dedication to traditional, hand-drawn animation. Over the last few years, the most successful animated projects in the U.S. have been all or mostly computer generated.

"In a few scenes, we turned to digital to show patterns or bubbling water. But as we headed into production, I gathered my staff and said to them, 'This is a two-dimensional film. This is our strength.'"

He cited an example of how Yu-baba's head changes size from scene to scene, depending, as Miyazaki put it, "on my mood and her mood." He explained that this kind of emotional relationship would have to be abandoned with digital production.

He said curtly, "I'm holding onto my pencil, thank you."

Miyazaki's themes show an advanced maturity which is highly uncommon in many American projects aimed at children, whose simplicity is likely driven by the goal of maximum possible appeal - and profit.

"To make a true children's film is a daunting challenge, because we need to clearly portray the essence of a very complex world." he warned. "A dedicated children's film is something that adults will also find rewarding, whereas a film made for adults that simply consists of adornments and decorations will leave children deeply dissatisfied. I'm opposed to simplifying the world to present it to children."

As if a nerve had been touched, Miyazaki held off the next question and returned to the topic.

"The fact of the matter is that children intuitively know, and that they deeply understand both the complexity and anxiety of the world we live in. I would suggest that you not underestimate children."

Asked if he approves of the English version of Spirited Away, he said, "I haven't seen it. I deeply trust John Lassiter (executive producer of the U.S. release), so I don't feel the need to see it."

The newest film from Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, The Cat's Return, is already in Japanese theaters, and discussions for a U.S. release are ongoing.

In the U.S., the lure of the Academy Award is a powerful force in the film industry. In recent years, an Oscar category for animated films has been added, and the political campaigning for that award has been tremendously fierce.

"It doesn't interest me," Miyazaki said, predictably, but producer Toshio Suzuki chimed in, "I, of course, want to win."

Defiantly protective of his art, Miyazaki has long shunned the conventions of modern movie-making. The standard Hollywood narrative is refreshingly absent from his films.

"There seems to be this commonly accepted rule of filmmaking that at the end of a film there has to be a climax, preferably action-filled. What I've managed to achieve in this last film is that at the very climax, a little girl gets on a train. I'm inordinately proud of that."

As his films show a fondness for first loves, Miyazaki was asked if his films perhaps harken to his own early romances.

"If everything in my life worked out that well, do you think I'd be in the movie business?"

Staff writer Audrey Shiomi contributed additional information to this story.

USA Today

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2002-09-17-disney-animation_x.htm

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 anim� 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."


USA Today

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2002-09-17-miyazaki_x.htm

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."



The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=600&e=3&cid=598&u=/nm/20020918/film_nm/film_miyazaki_dc

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."

New York Daily News

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/story/19415p-18402c.html

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?'"

Animation World Magazine

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at: http://mag.awn.com/index.php?ltype=pageone&article_no=1862&page=1

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."