Disney partnered with Studio Ghibli several years ago, and during this time, they have released some excellent Blu-rays. In doing so, they introduced many people to the fantastic work of Hayao Miyazaki (and maybe Anime in general), and that’s something that should be applauded. The releases have always been superb, so it was with great anticipation that I opened Spirited Away.
Spirited Away is a movie that is unique in that it has managed to win over critics and audiences alike. It shattered ticket sales and is the highest grossing film in Japanese history. In and of itself, that’s amazing, but when you can consider a few of the its other accolades: an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003, the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival are a few of the more favorable. These, along with the sales numbers, really tell the story of how special the movie really is. Spirited Away has amassed sales numbers that might never be reached again in Japan.
The story isn’t something I’m going to touch on for this review for a number of reasons as there’s so many well thought out reviews of the movie (and so many great things written about it in general) that you don’t really need my thoughts about it. For this release, I’m going to concentrate on the Blu-ray specifics. Sometimes, the danger with such an impressive film, is the transfer does not live up to the original. But, as you would expect with Disney, the quality of the Blu-ray is as top-notch as the film itself. In fact, the Blu-ray does not disappoint in any way.
The first thing that will jump out is the quality and beauty of the hand-drawn animation with the details being sharp and clear throughout the film. While the small images in the review will not provide you with an opportunity to totally appreciate the movie the way a home theater screen will, please take a moment to appreciate some of them. The minute details of the character models are sharp and the black outlines are complete without any digital distortion. Likewise, the background environments are brilliant with fantastic shading and colors. I could go on and on about the visuals, but let’s just say that you couldn’t possibly ask for anything more. Audio is equally amazing especially with the more subtle details like the rainfall or things falling on the floor. Superb job by Disney on this all the way around!
Besides the excellent transfer of the film, the Blu-ray ships with some Bonus Features that are certainly worthy of such a great title. John Lasseter has an introduction on the film that is worth a watch. Behind the Microphone provides you with some very interesting perspective on how much is required for the translation and the necessary voice-overs. It’s amazing seeing the details that are required, such as timing the voice with the character moving its mouth on the screen. It’s some painstaking work that was done perfectly, and I’d highly recommend watching it. There is also a feature called the Nippon Television Special which offers a nice behind-the-scenes look at Studio Ghibli. Last, but not least, the segment called The Art of Spirited Away provides a thorough look at how Miyazaki manages to create such beautiful work. This is one of the few Blu-ray releases that I might have enjoyed the bonuses as much as the feature itself.
Spirited Away is a Blu-ray I would definitely recommend purchasing. If your family has never seen one of the Studio Ghibli movies, it would be a great introduction for them to an entire new film world. While I didn’t talk about the specifics of the movie, it does have a great story about overcoming obstacles and adversity without losing your moral compass. It’s something you can appreciate, and I’m certain your family will as well.
Spirited Away Blu-ray Details
English Voice Cast: Daveigh Chase (Chihiro), Suzanne Pleshette (Yubaba/Zeniba), Jason Marsden (Haku), Susan Egan (Lin), David Ogden Stiers (Kamaji), Lauren Holly (Chihiro’s Mother), Michael Chiklis (Chihiro’s Father), John Ratzenberger (Assistant Manager), Tara Strong (“Baby”)& Bob Bergen (Aogaeru).
Writer/ Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Producers: English Version:Donald W. Ernst & John Lasseter, Japanese Version: Toshio Suzuki
Rating: English Version: PG for some scary moment (US & Canada)
Feature Run Time: 125 minutes
Bonus Content: Introduction by John Lasseter
The Art of Spirited Away
Behind The Microphone
Original Japanese Storyboards
Nippon Television Special
Original Japanese Trailers
Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of this movie. All opinions are our own.