Spirited Away (2001): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/CD/Book]

With their partnership with GKids, Shout Factory has managed to obtain a remarkable chunk of Studio Ghibli’s library and have given choice titles some truly deluxe treatment. Among some of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces is the incredible “Spirited Away” a film that owes a lot to “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” that also evokes subtle social commentary on child trafficking. In either case, “Spirited Away” is still a remarkable and stellar piece of art, with some of Miyazaki’s most memorable creations including No Face, and the Soot Sprites.

Preparing to move with her family, ten-year-old Chihiro and her family happen upon an abandoned amusement park. Horrified after her parents turn in to gluttonous pigs, Chihiro flees for help and descends in to a weird holiday resort for supernatural beings, ghosts, and monsters of all kinds after they’ve resided in the human world. After befriending an enigmatic young boy named Haku, Chihiro learns that she must earn her keep, and take on the name Sen. If she forgets her real name and identity, she will never be permitted to leave and will lose her parents forever.

“Spirited Away” is still a master stroke from the master Miyazaki. It’s a wonderful and often menacing fantasy epic with a journey through a harrowing world that consistently threatens our heroine Chihiro. As with a lot of Miyazaki’s films, there is never a clear cut idea of who the villain of the narrative is, and often times the journey is one that promises to envelope the audience every single time. Chihiro is one of Miyazaki’s banner heroines, one in a gallery of powerful, independent, and strong young women that always find ways to confront a new obstacle in front of them. Among them there is Yubaba, and the unusual No Face. With or without the English dub, “Spirited Away” is a cinematic masterpiece and powerhouse in the tradition of Lewis Carroll and or L. Frank Baum that deserves to be re-visited.

For Studio Ghibli collectors, and collectors of their Deluxe series, it’s a great addition to My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke. The hard cover Deluxe Edition arrives in a two-disc set which includes the Blu-ray and the movie’s full soundtrack on CD. Within the thick hardcover case and the discs, there’s also a lavish slipcase with the brand new full color booklet. The new forty page book includes stunning art and essays from various film scholars and film critics like Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, Leonard Maltin, and many more. Included in the Blu-Rays are Feature-Length Storyboards clocking in at over two hours in full HD.

You get to experience the original storyboards for the entire movie. For folks that love exploring the creative process, or for animators anxious to discover the process of storyboarding, this is a stellar feature. Behind the Microphone is a six minute vintage archival featurette about the English dub of “Spirited Away” as created by Disney. It goes over the ADR process, interviews the dub’s director Kirk Wise and John Lasseter, and includes footage from behind-the-scenes of dub cast members recording their lines such as Daveigh Chase, Susan Egan, Suzanne Pleshette, and David Ogden Stiers. Finally, there are eight of the original Japanese Theatrical Trailers in HD, all amounting to eighteen minute, along with ten Japanese TV Spots.