Spirited Away: Film Review

English Title: Spirited Away
Japanese Title: Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
Company: Studio Ghibli
Country: Japan
Year: 2001
Australian Rating: PG

Classification: Fiction (anime)
Themes: self belief, courage, love

What's it about?
Chihiro and her family are moving far away from their old home to start a new life in the country. Her father takes a wrong turn and after a stroll all three become trapped in the Spirit World. Her parents are turned into pigs and Sen must sign away her name to work in the bathhouse under Zeniba. Lin takes her under her wing and she gets rather attached to Haku, the boy who took her to the bathhouse to begin with.

The animation is stunning. The story is enjoyable. Chihiro shows a lot of development through the film and becomes to believe in herself and stand up for her friends.

Nothing comes to mind.

Many have made the mistake thinking this is a straightforward story but as with most anime the themes and messages are always a lot deeper. I would use this in the classroom to teach concepts about some Japanese beliefs, such as the shrines and paying respect if younger students are viewing. I would not recommend it for any student below grade 3 as I feel they would have difficulty understanding the actual film and "getting" the point.

The film has some very strong character types and I have used this movie to each about them with grade 6 and 7 students. We focused on Haku, Chihiro, Zeniba and Lin predominately looking at how each character evolves throughout the film.

If you are thinking of using this movie in a standard classroom - use the English version. If you teach a Japanese language class I recommend the Japanese with English subtitles.

Japanese vs. EnglishBoth the Japanese and English versions are well done. I personally prefer the Japanese version slightly over the English and this is more to do with the subtle differences in dialogue than anything else.

There are a few differences between the Japanese and English versions.
* Japanese version the character is Rin / English version Lin
* Haku's fate is worded differently between the versions and does impact on what happens 'after'
* The ending dialogue by Chihiro is not on the Japanese version

Parental Permission* This movie is higher than the standard G rating allowed to be shown in most schools.
* You will most likely be required to get parental permission for your class to view this movie.

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