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Spirited Away
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Genre:Animation - Adult
Cast:Hayao Miyazaki, Kirk Wise, Daveigh Chase, Rumi Hiiragi
Awards:Winner - Best Animated Feature-2003

In March 2003, writer-director-animator Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away became the first Japanese anime film to ever win (let alone to be nominated for) an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Rightfully so: The unique distillation of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Japanese folklore offers a sense of magic that has been sorely lacking in much recent animation. A ten-year-old girl named Chihiro, while passing through a strange abandoned village on her way to her new home, finds her greedy parents transformed into pigs after being tempted by delicious food. In order for them to become human again, Chihiro must work in a surreal bathhouse for monsters, spirits, and other supernatural critters, under the supervision of a witch named Yubaba. Along the way, Chihiro learns the virtues of bravery, self-worth, and humility while making new friends -- including a boy named Haku, who wields hidden powers -- and overcoming obstacles, such as the mysterious, money-offering No Face. Endlessly imaginative and beautifully realized, Spirited Away is a dreamlike experience, bolstered by Joe Hayashi's moving score and Miyazaki's mix of traditional animation and subtle computer graphics. Suitable for the whole family but also containing enough substance for continued study, it is nothing less than a new animation classic. Volk Lindsay

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