ByEvan Cameron, writer at

The Japanese animated movie Spirited Away, by Hayao Miyazaki, has become one of the most successful and critically acclaimed films in Japanese history. In his review for the film, The New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell describes the movie in a tone of respect and amazement in order to persuade his readers that the movie is a masterpiece. He contrasts the movie to the films made by Disney or any other animators in the west, arguing that there tends to be a darker aspect that you don’t see in something like Disney. Mitchel; especially focuses on the art style of Hayao Miyazaki, arguing that the movie uses a skillful blend of well panted setting mixed with computer animation makes all the characters distinct in appearance, in an attempt to convince his readers that this movie is not just another Disney film, or any other work of western animation, but that there is more to it than meets the eye and that it is something one would have to see for themselves in order to appreciate. That how Mitchell was impressed by Spirited Away, as were many others who saw the movie, is reflected in his writing style.

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You can tell that he holds the movie in high regards by the way he describes the movie. He uses many artful words mainly adjectives that make the movie feel as though it were a work of art. He then describes the world as though he were seeing it from the perspective of the main character. His tone is one of someone who has seen a masterpiece and is trying to describe it the best way that he can in his own words.

He compares the style of animation to Disney, how it is being promoted as a disney film but is quite different in it’s overall style. “Rather than Disney’s “Spirited Away” the movie could better be considered Mr. Miyazaki's “Through the Looking Glass.”” This is how Mitchell describes the movie when comparing it to Disney. He likely uses this terminology to appeal to the fantasy movie fanbase.

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However you can’t always appeal to one fanbase. There are going to be other readers who are likely to read the article. They could be casual readers of the New York Times or other movie genre fans. In order to do this he helps his readers see the world of Spirited Away. You can almost see the world yourself when he says “acres of beautifully designed kiosks, buildings and statues.” You get a glimpse of what Mitchell is seeing and as you watch the movie you can see that depicted. Wording like this are some of the many ways Mitchell has picked to convey the world of Spirited Away to his Readers.

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Mitchell also writes in a way in which you can see the world of Spirited Away through the eyes of the main heroine Chihiro. As Chhiro moves through the crazy world in which she ends up in certain emotions are expressed. Mitchell is able to show this with the word choice he uses. He talks about Chihiro’s encounters with the main hero Haku who through the use of magic spells, has been turned into a colder shifty character. Mitchell talks about Chihiro in this context when he says “she doesn't know whom or what to trust.” One can see the kind of desperation that Chihiro feels as Mitchell has pointed out.

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There are other characters that he mentions as well using the same style of writing. One such character is the witch Yubaba who runs the bathhouse. Mitchell uses very descriptive verbs to describe her when he says “her grating voice alone could probably peel the filth from the Stink God.” Can you imagine hearing that voice yourself? This sort of imagery is what Mitchell uses as he describes some of the characters. You begin to see what Chihiro must have felt like as she experiences this world for herself. Mitchell probably assumes that his readers that are not fantasy genre fans can at least understand how he felt when he watched the movie.

Other fans he could be trying to reach are those who have seen other works of Miyazaki. Such other movies as Princess Mononoke. he mentions how these fans may be disappointed by Spirited Away. He says “fans of Mr. Miyazaki's ''Princess Mononoke,'' [...] may be let down by the minor-chord fluidity of this film.” But to convince these fans he compares other Miyazaki movies to what Spirited Away is like. “”Spirited Away” is a marriage between [...] ”Mononoke” and the lively pop-pop-pop of his film ''My Friend Totoro.'' Mitchell says this to hopefully show that you can see some of the same aspects of Hayao Miyazaki in other works he has done.

Miyazaki uses a lot of references to his own culture and Mitchell has picked up on those, as well. He hopes to illustrate this when he says “watching the parade of wild things flutter, stomp and crawl through the bathhouse will make you wonder what each represents in Japanese mythology.” Much of the Japanese mythology being reflected in the movie can be attributed to its initial success and this is probably what Mitchell is trying to convey to his readers when he writes that. And again you can see the way he has used such verbiage to convey what he has seen in the movie himself when it comes to Japanese Mythology.

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Finally when Mitchell starts to describe the animation style you can see that he is trying to appeal across multiple fan bases. Most of if not all of the work of Miyazaki has been done by hand painted illustrations. Each frame has been drawn and painted. This style of animation brings back methods used when animation was first invented. Mitchell uses this kind of imagery in hopes to show his readers the uniqueness of each character in the movie. He says that it “keeps them from looking as if they're drifting a couple of inches above the ground.” When you look at many other types of animation, you can see that some of it makes you feel as though it is in a screen. With Spirited Away, Mitchell makes it feel that this movie was not meant to be watched alone but rather experienced.

This review of the movie Spirited Away makes it clear to the readers that the move is much more than just an ordinary animated film. Whether it be the words Mitchell uses or the way that he conveys his opinion about the movie, he makes it clear that this is a beautiful masterpiece. One that needs to be seen in order to understand the uniqueness of the film. If you don't understand the Japanese culture it does not matter. Anyone can appreciate the movie because of the odd and unusual things within it. This kind of world makes you feel as though you were brought to a different world altogether. It makes sense when Mitchell says that this movie should be referred to as Mr. Miyazaki's “Through the Looking Glass.” When the world of Spirited Away feels like such a different world altogether. Mitchell uses these points to appeal to multiple readers of his review.

Works Cited

Mitchell, Elvis. Rev. of Spirited Away, by Hayao Miyazaki.


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