Title: Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し)
Released: 2001

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Class Superlative: Most Popular

In a Land of Pure Imagination

Chihiro and her parents take an accidental detour en route to their new home. Like, a wayyyy out of the way detour. They unknowingly enter the spirit world, in which Chihiro is trapped, and her parents get turned into pigs (these movies have gone full circle!). Chihiro takes a job at the bathhouse for spirits, while she tries to find a way for her and her parents to return to the human world.

Adorable Child Alert

Chihiro is a little removed from the adorable stage, and the only other candidate is Boh, Yubaba’s big-ass baby. He’s a brat, but he (and the bird!) endears himself to me once he gets turned into a mouse.

Lovable Anthropomorphic Sidekicks


And I realized that the only GIF that could best represent them all would be one of the entire movie. So let’s just focus on the main sidekicks.

As previously stated, mouse-Boh and the tiny-fied bird (with the return of soot sprites!). 

And obvs, No-Face, who shares my philosophy re: food.

Wait, WTF?

Dang, I thought this film would be free of WTF-ery! It still kind of is, considering my comment has nothing to do with the actual movie itself. Spirited Away was the first Ghibli film to be recognized by the Oscars for Best Animated Feature (which it won, obvs). I was going to go on a spiel about them not giving the studio props earlier than that, but JOKE’S ON ME — the category didn’t even exist before 2001. (Full-length animated films have only been around since the 1930s, NBD.) Not that the lack of a separate category stopped the Japanese-equivalent Oscars from handing out Picture of the Year* to Spirited Away (and Princess Mononoke, before it). 

OH and I just thought of another WTF: where’s the Blu-ray of this already!? I want my rods and cones overwhelmed in high def!

*In the Oscars’ defense, two animated films have been nominated for Best Picture in the past: Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Up (2009). Several Disney movies have also received special Oscars, but that list includes Song of the South, sooooo. 

Famous Voices

Class Superlative: Most Popular

This movie is the best kind of popular: universally beloved* and so, so worthy of all the accolades. Bursting with boundless imagination, it’s a visually breathtaking coming-of-age tale, richly and beautifully infused with Japanese folklore. If you’ve yet to watch this movie, you basically haven’t been using your eyeballs properly.

*As seen on two Alamo Top 100 lists — including FYA’s very own Sarah’s. It’s also Megan no h’s fave Ghibli movie!

Exploring the Studio Ghibli Vault

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.