Posted on 7/19/11 07:58 PM
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, allow me to introduce you to not only the greatest animated film to come out of Japan, but also to one of the greatest animated films ever made. Those of you who have seen this film know exactly what I'm talking about, as this film is much more than what the average Joe would think. This film tells the story of a girl named Chihiro, who, in the process of moving to a new neighborhood, becomes trapped in an alternate reality that is inhabited by monsters and spirits. After her parents are transformed into pigs (yeah, that's gotta suck) by an evil witch named Yubaba, Chihiro is forced to work in Yubaba's bathhouse in order to find a way to free herself and her parents so they may escape back to the human world. Seeing this film as a kid helped me to realize that anime wasn't bad, but instead misunderstood. Sure My Neighbor Totoro was the film that got me out of my "I hate anime" craze, but this film happens to be the one that solidified the end of my hatred. Of course it never did get me to start seeing more anime, and I still hate a few anime today, but my hatred was tempered very serenely. Is it a cartoon? No. Is it a typical anime? Not in the slightest. What makes this film so good? Well, I'm glad you asked.
Miyazaki manages to craft such an amazing story from what used to be a script that would have made the film over three hours long, but the restrictions he may have made were all in the best interest of the film. The story itself is fantastic, with much of the plot elements having surreal and awe-inspiring aspects that make you anticipate and revere the current and future scenes. On top of that, the story gives us elements of imagery and sophistication in the way that certain scenes depict in the audiences view. The animation is absolutely amazing, with practically no repetition or signs of choppy cycling. Everything is fluidly animated, much like you would see in an American animated film such as the Disney classics. Character development allows for an optimal amount of understanding and artistry for the viewers while still allowing room for the viewer to wonder and contemplate. There are different personalities so as to allow for the viewer to relate to at least one character, even if that character is a bit on the ugly side (like a monster). One good thing to mention is that this film doesn't seem like a film just for children, as adults could easily enjoy this film (heck, my dad loves it). Our attention is always fixed on the film and its imaginative storyline, and the art direction that makes that imaginative storyline possible is nothing less than superb. The music by Joe Hisaishi has such a warm and often-epic grip on its listener, and Hisaishi deserves much more recognition for the music that he has created. Lastly come the many themes and archetypes that are either fluidly or shadily presented in the film. The whole gist of the story and how Chihiro goes through her journey "through the looking glass" is in direct line with her journey between childhood and adulthood. The archetypal entrance into a new world evidently demarcates Chihiro's status as one in-between. In her conversion between childhood and adulthood, Chihiro stands outside these societal boundaries, a situation mirrored by the paranormal setting outside of reality. Also, other important themes that are imbedded in this films story include aspects of generational conflicts in Japanese society, the struggle of traditional custom in a more modern lifestyle, and environmental pollution. All in all, this is a feast for the mind and a feast for the eyes. If you haven't seen this film yet then I highly recommend that you do so soon, and if there is anyone who is thinking about not seeing films like this one simply because they are anime films, then at least see this one. Maybe you'll end up like me and see that anime really isn't all that bad. Like I've said before, "How do you know that you won't like it if you haven't tried it yet?"