It’s time to celebrate (and also feel old), because Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is twenty years old today! Yes, it’s been twenty years to the day that Spirited Away was released in Japanese cinemas: July 20, 2001.
Spirited Away tell the story of Chihiro, a ten-year old girl who’s a bit spoiled and apathetic. Chihiro’s family makes a wrong turn on their way to their new house, which results in them being trapped in an alternate world of spirits, witches, gods and monsters. With her parents turned into pigs, Chihiro must find her inner strength and brave this new world in order to save her parents and return home.
The film would go on to become a massive critical and commercial success, not just in its native Japan, but throughout the world. Praised for its storytelling, characters, animation, and ineffable imagination, Spirited Away would quickly become one of the most acclaimed and beloved films of all time, animated or otherwise.
Spirited Away won Best Picture at Japan’s (far more open-minded) Academy Award equivalent, and would later win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (the second-ever awarded in the category, and still the only traditionally animated winner of that award to date). But more important than any awards, Spirited Away won the hearts of moviegoers the world over (myself very much included).
Personally speaking, Spirited Away is my favorite film of all time (perhaps tied with a previous Miyazaki masterpiece, My Neighbor Totoro). As someone who hopes to one day create wondrous fantasies of his own, Spirited Away has been my biggest source of creative inspiration. In the over eighteen years since I first saw it, I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about it in some capacity. And it’s because of Spirited Away that this site even exists at all! Suffice to say, Spirited Away had an impact on me.
But who cares about me? We’re here to celebrate the film itself!
It’s kind of weird thinking how there’s now generations of children who have grown up watching Spirited Away, and how a movie I saw when it was new is now firmly established as an all-time classic. It really makes one feel old, but like, in the best way.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty years since Spirited Away first captured the hearts and imaginations of the world. May it continue to do so forever more!
Happy twentieth birthday, Spirited Away!