Rewatched Mar 18, 2012
Robin Layfield’s review:
This is no Hollywood fairy tale.
I admire John Lasseter for getting behind Studio Ghibli's output and not letting these films become Americanized. They are quirky and mysterious and beautiful, often equally grounded between European and Japanese folklore, stealing cultural elements from both.
Miyazaki has a number of tropes that he likes to lean on: physical changes, witchcraft, rain, umbrellas, warty grandmothers, transport and a theme of remembering who you are. These are all present in Spirited Away in abundance.
The tale is delightful yet strange, beautifully animated yet populated with sometimes ugly and unsightly, disturbing or weird characters, combining the very very real (train journeys) with the utterly surreal (being chased by flocks of origami birds). There is no central moral other than to be true to yourself.
Well worth a watch and it only gets better on repeated viewings.