skip to main content
Blog Post

The Most Imaginative (Animated) Film of All Time?

5 minutes

Spirited Away - Miyazaki

It’s not an “official” tradition, but more than not, our family sits down together to watch a movie (most) Friday evenings. And having a 10 year-old, 8 year-old, and a 4 year-old, each Friday is proving somewhat challenging to decide upon a movie that everyone enjoys… okay, let’s be honest, one that I enjoy and/or willing to watch. This Friday I finally talked the crew into watching the Japanese animated, and Oscar winning, film “Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi” (Spirited Away, 2001) directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.

Honestly, it is one of the imaginative, meaningful, and spiritually rich (animated) films I have ever seen and arguably the best animated film of the last 10-15 years. (Before you Pixar fans scream foul, know that Miyazaki’s work, including this film, has served as creative inspiration for John Lasseter’s team at Pixar.) But let me table my own opinion on the matter in favor for what has truly intrigued me about the film – my 10 year-old daughter’s (Grace) utter captivation of the story. Of course, this response made a little more sense to me after I read the following interview with Miyazaki soon after the film’s release:

“The most important thing for me in making this movie was to persuade the 10-year-olds that this movie was for them. I wanted them to be able to recognize themselves in the characters. I think I would like them to leave the movie theater with a sense of humility about the complexity and difficulties of the world we live in.”

So, rather than waste time with my own thoughts on the film, I find it more appropriate to hear from a 10 year-old’s perspective. Here is what my daughter Grace wrote on her blog about the film (unedited):


Spirited Away


Chihiro’s family is moving to a new house and a new town, on the way, they explore a little and find themselves at a abandoned amusement park. Suddenly strange things happen to Chihiro like some boy on a bridge who tells her, “you shouldn’t be here! It’s almost night! Go!” Chihiro runs back to find her parents but finds them as pigs. She tries to run back and away from the park instead there’s water blocking her. Soon,the boy, Haku, comforts her and tells her to go to the bathhouse and get a job, he also warned her about the witch, Yubaba, who turned her parents into pigs. When she gets her job, Yubaba takes her name and changes it to Sen. Through out her new life in the bathhouse, Sen makes new friends and meets more creatures who help her get back her parents and remember they’re names. But will she help Haku as well?


Really good story!!!!!!!!! So deep and imaginative and it makes you explore the world in you’re mind and…. (I’m starting to sound like one of those American Idol Judges who ramble on, aren’t I)


Questions and answers for people who’s seen this movie:

What do you think the writer/director was trying to to say?

I think he’s trying to say that these days so many people are really selfish and it could take one selfish person who’s not being friendly to others to turn lots of people selfish – as well, but it can also take one loving and friendly person, anybody, to turn things around and to change peoples life’s. Also, the rest of my answer is also my answer for the below questions.

What does the movie/Chihiro’s character say about being 10 years old?

That it’s hard being a 10 year old and it’s hard getting more privileges, like Sen getting a job. And sometimes people just don’t pay any attention or listen to you when you know something fishy’s going on, like the tunnel. They think everything’s under control and they have more experience so what’s a 10 year old gonna do to change their minds? But you don’t know if your next experience is going to be exactly like you’re others. Also, 10 year olds can focus on loving others a lot. And younger people, (no offense seniors), can love easier than others because they can relate to how they feel. And trying a new thing that you have no idea about, like Sen’s new life at the bath house, or some 9-10 year old going to a new school.You just have to collect yourself, be strong, try to do the work that everybody else is doing. But still remember who you really are.

What do you think the director is saying about adults or parents?

Adults think their so perfect, but they’re not as pure as they think. Swearing, yelling, stealing, (I mean, do you ever see a first grader running around with a black mask around their head and a bag full of money? No. Probably not.) People like Yubaba could make you forget all the good things you learned, and who you really are right smack dab in the middle of your heart. And you’ll try anything to have a chance to become you again, be happy, and forget all of the bad stuff ever really happened. Adults can be really selfish. You might think not,”Hey, I gave 5 cents to that one guy over there, right? I need to take care of myself and that dude should be able to as well.”

Believe it or not, sometimes adults need children instead of children needing adults – for comfort, joy, and having someone to love. (This doesn’t have anything to do with the topic, but it’s like in the book The Lost Hero where the gods loved being needed by the demigods, but hated needing the demigods.)  Without children, adults would forget how to love. These days, adults would do anything for some gold. I mean, isn’t the great depression over? I’m glad the writer had the guts to admit that grown-ups can’t give that well.


So, what are you thoughts on the film? The most insightful and imaginative animated film of all time? According to IMDB’s Top 250 list, only Toy Story 3 (#31) and Wall-E (#47) have nudged their way past Spirited Away (#49). Weigh in on your own thoughts here…

And for more “perspectives” of a 5th grader, I invite you to check out Grace’s various opinions on books and film at: (she love’s comments!)