Spirited Away (2001) is Studio Ghibli movie about a young girl getting trapped in the spirit world. That is a bit of a simplification but its all you need to know about the movie for what I want to talk about. And that is the character design.
One of the most iconic scenes in Star Wars (1977) is when Luke enters the Cantina and he, and the audience, are fully thrown into this new world with the introduction to all these different species. Spirited Away has a very similar scene, well two actually.
Unfortunately, neither of these scenes are on YouTube. But, this might be for the better, as you can watch the movie on your own and experience it fresh.
The first of these scenes is when our main character Chihiro, now trapped in the spirit world, crosses a bridge full of spirits. We experience with her all the shock, awe, and surprise that she experiences seeing all these unique spirits for the first time. Which truly helps the audience get in the same headspace as her. While also allowing the animators to show off some of the very cool character designs they came up with for the movie.
The second scene comes after Chihiro finds herself at a bath house for spirits. While she walks across the bath house she, and the audience, are introduced to even more fascinating spirit characters.
The beauty and whimsy of the film are only accentuated by the character design. Whether it is a “stink spirit” or simply a giant duck with a leaf on his head. It all adds to making this movie a much watch simply for its character design. The rest of the movie is also very good but that’s not what I wanted to talk about.
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