Disney presents the English language version of this successful Japanese animation or anim feature from renowned filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. This fantasy story, based on the fairy tales of Japan, follows the adventure of ten-year-old Chihiro (voiced by Daveigh Chase). On their way to a new home in a new city, Chihiros father takes a wrong turn and ends up at what seems to be an abandoned amusement park. But Chihiro is alarmed when her parents turn into pigs while eating at a food stand. Shes befriended by Haku (Jason Marsden), a young boy who tells her that to save her parents, she must get a job in Yubabas (Suzanne Pleshette) bathhouse. The bathhouse is like a weekend spa for the various spirits of Japanese mythology. Helped by the gruff but kindly Kamaji (David Ogden Stiers), the six armed operator of the bathhouse furnace, and befriended by Lin (Susan Egan), a tough servant girl, Chihiro changes from a timid and scared little girl into a confident and wise helper. But can Chihiro pass Yubabas final test to free her parents? At just over two hours, SPIRITED AWAY may make some restless, but the fantasy world of Chihiro is a fascinating look at another cultures fables.
Like the mythology of Greece or Rome, the film reflects the belief in many spirits that personify rivers, plants, and animals. Haku is sometimes takes on a dragonlike image and a similar dragon is referred to as a river spirit. Yubaba renames Chihiro, reflecting a belief that taking away a persons name gives you power over them. The story also touches upon the pollution of rivers and the power of love as Chihiro deals with various trials. Treated as a fantasy fairy tale, can be recommended for pre-teens and older, but discussions afterward may be in order.
Buena Vista (Walt Disney)
Once Moderate (butt)
Several times Moderate cartoon violence (Run into wall, woman breaks up room, hit head, fall into muddy tub, no-face spirit eats characters, paper birds attack dragon, dragon bleeding/ bloody mouth, body cut in two by dragon tail, long fall into water, chase, woman breathing fire, slug thing squashed)
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog:
Few times Kamaji/ Yubaba smoke cigarettes, reference to sak (Japanese liquor)
Story takes place in spirit world based on Japanese mythology, people eating food turn into pigs, spells cast to help people, woman changes into bird, woman says took oath to give job to whoever asks, belief taking/ changing name gives power over person, spirit vomits up mud/ people unharmed, spirit entices greedy workers w/fools gold, Chihiro helps bathe muddy spirit pollution removed reveals river spirit, comment that girls love breaks spell
Ages 10 and up
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