This year – 2011 – it’s exactly ten years since the masterpiece, that is Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, were released in Japanese cinemas. This movie was my very first Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki movie and is actually maybe one of the main reasons I got into Japanese culture. It’s one of my all time favorite movie and I’ve watched it countless times. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always felt this Ghibli movie was different from the other Ghibli movies. It’s probably more the animation style that’s different. I’m especially thinking about the character designs. Normally Ghibli characters have somewhat larger eyes, don’t they? I also think the characters look more Japanese and are more detailed than usually. This movie is really beautifully animated and I love the traditional Japanese setting, which captivated me immensely back when I watched it for my first time.
I also find it fascinating that Miyazaki Hayao intended to make a movie for 10-year-old girls, which is normally uninteresting for an older audience, and then it got to reach so many different age groups. Fantastic! :O I like how the movie treats the theme of identity search and how lonely and lost you can feel in that process. I think Chihiro’s a great character, as she’s first a spoiled and lazy girl who has yet to discover her true identity, but then accomplishes through an array of obstacles and various tests throughout the story. We watch her discover both the good and bad traits in the people around her and then her own good qualities which show more and more as the story processes. I think all people can relate to the feeling of being lost when rooming through the dark in the search of your identity and that’s probably why it’s such a good story. Normally kid’s movies focus on things like adventure, magic and maybe your first love interest, when the most important thing for most people that age actually is to search for one’s identity, isn’t it? Miyazaki is good at understanding people like that :) That’s probably also one of the reasons I love this movies so much. Of course they have great animation, but for me the best thing is definitely the stories’ messages. I really think his movies are for people in all ages ^o^
Now back to Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (btw, love the meaning of the title: Sen and the Mysterious Disappearance of Chihiro. It has a nice poetic sound to it hasn’t it?) I need to tell you about my love of Haku xD (Sorry, he was my first anime crush…) I really liked his mysterious intro, where he appeared to recognize Chihiro (but Chihiro didn’t recognize him) and then went out of his way to protect her ♥ Best intro ever!! Really left a big impression on me. I also loved his big green eyes and that funny “prince-like” haircut of his’ :P His seiyuu (Irino Miyuu) voice was also perfect, love how he talks a more formal old-fashioned Japanese which they used to talk at the emperor’s castle :O So cool! And then of course I loved the fact that he was both a dragon, god and a witch’s apprentice ( totally multi-talented! xD ) and also the fact that he was such a gentle and kind person towards Chihiro. I hope they got to meet again, as Haku promised Chihiro they would in the last moment between them in the movie. But it’s nice how Miyazaki made that “open” ending, making it up to the audience’s imagination to decide what will happen afterwards – just genious \(^o^)/ yay
Right now I’m just really wishing for a Blu-ray release from Pony Canyon. They have released like 8 out of 15 Ghibli movies (if you only count their major projects), so it’s about time they release Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi >< It’s the movie’s anniversary and all :( And then I just really want to have the movie in Blu-ray and watch some more extras (would be amazing!) *sigh* I guess I’ll have to wait some more years though ;( I just think this wonderful movie deserves it! xD