Strong Spirits


A couple weeks ago, for family movie night, I rented, on various recommendations, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. It turns out that this film is packed to the rafters with weirdness and wonderment. I’ll be honest:  some of the imagery and some of the action was unsettling enough at first that my wife and I both wondered if I’d gotten us in over our heads. But I find that two weeks later I’m still caught up in the adventures of Chihiro and Haku and pals.

My advice to other parents:  if your kids are almost seven and almost three and have not been raised on an anime diet, they may be frightened on first viewing (my son didn’t respond well to the Stink Spirit sequence; my daughter was disturbed and agitated by the boy-in-dragon-form-is-mortally-injured scenes; your mileage may vary). In fact, I worried at times about the possibility of nightmares and/or permanent trauma. But they slept like an almost-seven and almost-three year-old, and in the morning, they both wanted to watch it again.


12 responses to “Strong Spirits

  1. FWIW, eleven-year-old girls on sleepovers get a little freaked out by this movie…but when their driving-age cousins sneak them into SuperBad, they do just fine. Just something to consider for the future 🙂

  2. Damn, that film unsettled me. It was No-Face’s wee noises that did it, I think. And the fact that I’m pretty sure it didn’t make a lick of sense.

    I still prefer My Neighbour Totoro, though. Because it has Catbus in it.

  3. seandoolittle

    Sophie, actually, I really appreciate the reference point. I find I’m constantly clueless about “age appropriate.” What is it? Where can I get some? Will I know what I’m looking for?

    And Ray, agreed, and good to hear it wasn’t just us. My wife said, “I think maybe I’m not hip anymore or something.” Not that we ever were, especially. Totoro’s on the list. . . .

    (Everybody go check out Sophie’s story this month over at

  4. I’m all about Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Panda! Go Panda! by the same guy–similar sense of joy and weirdness, but not as freaky.

  5. Sean,

    It’s one of my top ten movies ever, regardless of genre. I took my daughter when she was four and she loved it, and five years on it’s still a favorite.


  6. Next year: Howl’s Flying Castle

  7. Totoro is a great one! A few others for the list:steam boy (probably OK for the kids), and grave of the fireflies an (my fave) voices of a distant star for just you and jess. let me know if you want to borrow them… star is a great concept piece clad poorly as anime, but well worth the watching.

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