Reviews - Spirited Away (2001)
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Spirited Away (2001)

Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family

Taglines: (The tunnel led Chihiro to a mysterious town...)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Writers: Hayao Miyazaki

Stars: Rumi Hiiragi, Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Miyu Irino, ...

Chihiro and her parents are moving to a small Japanese town in the countryside, much to Chihiro's dismay. On the way to their new home, Chihiro's father makes a wrong turn and drives down a lonely one-lane road which dead-ends in front of a tunnel. Her parents decide to stop the car and explore the area. They go through the tunnel and find an abandoned amusement park on the other side, with its own little town. When her parents see a restaurant with great-smelling food but no staff, they decide to eat and pay later. However, Chihiro refuses to eat and decides to explore the theme park a bit more. She meets a boy named Haku who tells her that Chihiro and her parents are in danger, and they must leave immediately. She runs to the restaurant and finds that her parents have turned into pigs. In addition, the theme park turns out to be a town inhabited by demons, spirits, and evil gods. At the center of the town is a bathhouse where these creatures go to relax. The owner of the bathhouse ...

100 | Michael Sragow

A visual masterpiece about a scared little girl's breathtaking journey of self-discovery. All of the fun is getting there.
Read More: Baltimore Sun

100 | Lawrence Toppman

Yet its visual surrealism, identity-bending and strong social/ecological message make it as much an allegory as a fable.
Read More: Charlotte Observer

100 | Jack Mathews

Turns everything we know about the contemporary world on its head, and substitutes it with one in which spirits, monsters, magicians and animals mix it up in a carnival of energy, good humor and freewheeling illusion.
Read More: New York Daily News


Probably like nothing you've ever seen before. In a cool world, it would be guaranteed not only the Best Animated Feature Oscar, but Best Picture as well.

100 | Frank Lovece

Serenely stunning.
Read More: TV Guide Magazine

100 | Steven Rea

Wondrously strange and just plain wonderful.
Read More: Philadelphia Inquirer

100 | Lou Lumenick

A Japanese cross between "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Wizard of Oz" -- is such a landmark in animation that labeling it a masterpiece almost seems inadequate.
Read More: New York Post

100 | Lisa Schwarzbaum

A triumph of psychological depth and artistic brilliance offered as the magical adventures of one skinny little girl.
Read More: Entertainment Weekly

100 | David Chute

Does full honor to Miyazaki’s teeming and often unsettling landscape, and to the conflicted complexity of his characters: Not a single frame was cut, and the voice casting and performances are uniformly excellent.
Read More: L.A. Weekly

100 | Richard Corliss

Artful but not arty, Spirited Away is a handcrafted cartoon, as personal as an Utamaro painting, yet its breadth and heart give it an appeal that should touch American viewers of all ages.
Read More: Time

100 | Derek Elley

An out-and-out charmer. It's almost impossible to do justice in words either to the visual richness of the movie, which melanges traditional Japanese clothes and architecture with both Victorian and modern-day artifacts, or to the character-filled storyline, with human figures, harpies and grotesque creatures.
Read More: Variety

100 | Kenneth Turan

Prepare to be astonished by Spirited Away.
Read More: Los Angeles Times

100 | Roger Ebert

It's enchanting and delightful in its own way, and has a good heart. It is the best animated film of recent years, the latest work by Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese master who is a god to the Disney animators.
Read More: Chicago Sun-Times

100 | Peter Rainer

The most deeply and mysteriously satisfying animated feature to come along in ages.
Read More: New York Magazine (Vulture)

100 | Patrick Peters

The fact that Miyazaki and his team hand-draw the images before they're digitally coloured and animated gives them an artistry that has been woefully lacking from so many recent American features.
Read More: Empire

100 | Luke Y. Thompson

It would be a masterpiece in any language.
Read More: Dallas Observer

100 | Claudia Puig

Director Hayao Miyazaki treats his audience as imaginative and intelligent human beings, rather than catering to kids with rote displays of silliness, stunts and scares.
Read More: USA Today

100 | Peter Travers

Miyazaki is the Pied Piper -- see Spirited Away and you'll follow him anywhere.
Read More: Rolling Stone

90 | J. Hoberman

A very nutty fruitcake, Spirited Away is characterized by wonderfully detailed animation, packed with incident and populated by all manner of comic creatures.
Read More: Village Voice

90 | Tasha Robinson

A wonderful encore, marked by the painstaking attention to detail and artful balance between terror and joy that make Miyazak's work unique.
Read More: The A.V. Club

90 | A.O. Scott

The towering, lost dreaminess at the heart of the film is an unmistakable obsession of this director.
Read More: The New York Times

90 | Ted Shen

Enchanting and impressively crafted.
Read More: Chicago Reader

90 | David Hunter

Spirited dazzles and entertains like no other movie this year. It also comes to a satisfying conclusion and never once seems to take shortcuts. Miyazaki is one of world cinema's most wondrously gifted artists and storytellers.
Read More: The Hollywood Reporter

89 | Marc Savlov

Fiercely original in every respect.
Read More: Austin Chronicle

88 | Michael Wilmington

It's a movie full of bewitching images and timeless fun and beauty.
Read More: Chicago Tribune

88 | Don Irvine

The most successful film ever released in Japan, and co-winner of the top prize at this year's Berlin film festival, Spirited Away is a complete reversal of the Hollywood way with animation.
Read More: The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

88 | Rene Rodriguez

Offers a ride worth taking -- an excursion through a fantastical pop universe that is pure, enchanting magic. Try it; you'll like it.
Read More: Miami Herald

88 | James Berardinelli

Overall, while Spirited Away may not be as complex and imaginative as "Princess Mononoke" in some areas, it is as beautifully rendered and no less sophisticated in its outlook. Miyazaki has provided another triumph, and, in the midst of the quality fall-off of Disney’s in-house animated projects, a reason for animation-lovers to rejoice.
Read More: ReelViews

80 | Andrew O'Hehir

It will disturb you as much as thrill you, make you wonder whether the boundaries between life and death, reality and fantasy, imagination and insanity are ever what they appear to be.
Read More:

80 | Jane Horwitz

Old myths and wonder tales spun afresh.
Read More: Washington Post

80 | Desson Thomson

This movie -- which is equally appealing to children (those of adventurous, non-freak-outable spirit), Japanese animation (anime) fans, and any surviving acquaintances of Timothy Leary -- is so full of invention, you might want to take a breather now and then.
Read More: Washington Post

75 | David Sterritt

Too intense for the youngest viewers, but teenagers will enjoy it -- an ill-smelling "stink-god" character is almost worthy of a Kevin Smith gross-out movie -- and grown-ups should find it diverting, if not exactly deep.
Read More: Christian Science Monitor

75 | Wesley Morris

Delivers chunks of ''Yellow Submarine'' and ''The Phantom Tollbooth'' -- a vividly timeless oddity suitable for many children and most stoners.
Read More: Boston Globe

75 | William Arnold

Has the power to transport us to a different place. The spark of special anime magic here is unmistakable and hard to resist.
Read More: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

75 | C.W. Nevius

A lovely, evocative tour de force. So why does it seem we should be enjoying it more?
Read More: San Francisco Chronicle