Some people are describing this film as a "masterpiece" already and I can certainly understand that argument since I honestly canít recall any real flaws in this film either. What I appreciated the most was the subtlety by which the important themes are handled in the movie. In many of the American animated features (as great as most of them are) sometimes they over-do the ďmessageĒ delivering in the film to the point where you feel like youíre being preached to. In SPIRITED AWAY, itís done in a very natural, original and beautiful way up to the way the movie ends and this is just one of the special qualities it has that sets it apart from others of its kind. A powerful and engaging movie, this film is truly deserving of the Oscar it garnered for Best Animated Film of 2003.
Disc 1 features Spirited Away Introduction by John Lasseter, in which the famed Pixar studios giant and executive producer of this film sets the movie up nicely by sharing with us his love of the film and his total admiration of director Miyazaki. Another extra entitled The Art of Spirited Away is a 15-minute interview and behind-the-scenes filled journey by which the producer, director, voice talents and many others who were involved with the film share their thoughts about subjects ranging from the other brilliant works of Miyazaki to the grueling effort it takes to translate an animated film into another language. Worth the watch, especially after just viewing the film. I wouldnít have minded it being a tad longer though. A few sneak peeks of animated films (including a couple of the director's earlier films) are also thrown in with the rest of the extras on this first disc.
Disc 2 includes The Nippon Television Special-The Making of the Film. Wow, this a forty-minute Japanese special that delves deep inside the life and times of director Hayao Miyazaki. I appreciated this film all the more after witnessing first hand the hard work and dedication that the man puts into his films. You truly get a sense of who Miyazaki is; this special shows him at home, playing with his dog, cooking and being totally involved in almost every single aspect of SPIRITED AWAY. This is an extra feature every DVD should have, itís a must see for anyone who not only loved the film, but who wants to see a great man doing great things with his life.
Then there is the Select Storyboard-To-Scene Comparison, which is pretty self-explanatory. It's basically the first ten minutes of the film presented in sequence on storyboards with the option of the English or Japanese languages playing along. Iím always fascinated by the details and effort put into these storyboards so it was fun to see how close they were to the finished product. Next up was a five minute ditty called Behind The Microphone which takes you into the studio to witness the fun, the trials and the tribulations of the voice-over actors doing their thing. Just short enough not to get boring. Btw, itís official...John Ratzenberger (Cliff from CHEERS) is now a voice-over artist for EVERY animated movie thatís being made. Finally there are the original Japanese trailers (tons of them, actually) of SPIRITED AWAY. There is an option for English subtitles on all these features.