Spirited Away is a beautiful animation and may even have been a worthy Oscar winner, but it’s not the cream of the Ghibli crop. Although it has much of the look and feel of classic Miyazaki, there’s a sneaking suspicion that this film was made for a Western audience, and for that it suffers.
The story follows a little girl, Chihiro, who loses her parents to a sorceress (who turns them into pigs) and is forced to work in a bath-house. Despite its slightly dubious pacing, this is still a lovely film to watch, and in places the animation is breathtaking. However, there’s something missing. It’s difficult to be critical of anything Ghibli produces because its standards are so high. Spirited Away, like all Ghibli animations, is a must-have, but don’t make it the first or last that you watch.