Only my second viewing of a Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away tells the tale of a young girl, Chihiro, who when moving to a new home with her parents uncovers a deserted theme park/restaurant which she later learns to be a holiday retreat for a multitude of spirits.

She meets a boy named Haku, who helps Chihiro get herself a new life within the spirit realm, where she learns that the only way to exist is through tremendously hard work.

The tale is a captivating fairy tale, with beautiful characters and scenery throughout, with deep enough symbolism of capitalism and wasteful consumerism to make the story interesting for a mature audience, as well as being a fantastical journey for children. I could've watched the entire movie with my eyes closed, as the sweeping and frankly rather epic score by Joe Hisaishi, who has worked previously and since on many other animated features, really helps evoke the emotions within the story.

Mostly though, I can't get over how beautiful this film is, and I will certainly be investing in some sort of coffee table art book - the spirits are all ingeniously original, somehow both haunting yet relatable or at least cute in a strange way. The mask of no face is at the same time quite disturbing and endearing.

I think this is an easy Ghibli film to get into the back catalogue for all of these reasons, and I would thoroughly recommend it, even if you're not normally a fan of animated films.

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