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Being Spirited Away on Halloween: A Review

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Spirited AwayIn the spirit of Halloween, I decided to avoid the typical horror films of vampires, zombies, ghosts, werewolves, ghouls, the Devil, Frankenstein, witches, masked murderers, psycho killers, aliens, predators, possessed dolls, haunted houses, undead creatures, serial murderers, paranormal activities and the likes and just settle with a different film that most people would not associate the holiday with — I re-watched one of my favorite films: Spirited Away (for the fifth time since it debuted in 2001) directed by Hayao Miyazaki. (Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of horror films but I am a bigger fan of Miyazaki's films.)

Chihiro Meets No FaceFamous for his previous creations such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004, inspired by Diana Wynne Jones' novel under the same title), and Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away is a unique anime movie that follows the story of a 10 year old human girl named Chihiro who undergoes a spiritual journey where she meets ghosts, demons, witches, monsters, dragons and other odd looking creatures of the night.

The storyline is very good; the film also contains some "horror" elements. Viewers will not know what to expect when Chihiro runs into certain spiritual beings: can she trust the kindness of strangers or will she be devoured by them? Along the way to save her parents, Chihiro faces many challenges, makes friends and enemies, and taps into her inner courage.

Chihiro Meets Yubaba, a Witch

The DVD also came with a special bonus feature of "Behind the Scenes" — I have never seen this part before but when I did, it was an inviting experience to see how Miyazaki and his crew spent tireless days and endless nights preparing, producing and finishing the film together under a tight deadline and budget. There were brief interviews with Miyazaki and his crew throughout the filming process. I got a glimpse of the small art studio packed and piled with copies and pieces of scraps and drafts of the film as well as Miyazaki’s cooking style. I also saw what had inspired Miyazaki to create Spirited Away.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Miyazaki has had a tremendous impact in the world of anime and in Japanese pop culture. His well-known creation known as Totoro serves as the mascot of his production company. In Japan, the Ghibli Museum is a museum devoted to Miyazaki's artistic accomplishments spanning several decades.

Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, JapanHalloween may come and go but you can always request the film year round. Also check out the video below on NYPL Pumpkin Carving!

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