Spirited Away Is The Best Anime Movie For Kids (And Also Adults)

Chihiro in Spirited Away.
(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

I have pretty much devoted myself to the world of anime at this point in my life. I watch the latest anime to keep up to date, talk about the best ones you should check out like Chainsaw Man, or the sports anime, Blue Lock, and even return to older anime when I feel a bit nostalgic, like Pokémon. However, one thing I don’t necessarily talk about that often is anime movies. Anime movies themselves are excellent, but there’s one specific studio that I need to give praise to today and that is Studio Ghibli. The company has made so many amazing movies, but one of my favorites, hands down, is Spirited Away. 

The film follows Chihiro, a young girl who makes it her mission to get her parents back when they are turned into pigs for being greedy and eating too much food at a spiritual bathhouse. The movie is the best anime film for kids (and adults) to watch, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to watch it now. 

Chihiro in Spirted Away.

(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

First Off – The Animation Is Beautifully Done

I mean, anime in general is such a unique artform. It’s not necessarily the 2D animation that many people have seen in the Disney renaissance movies, but it’s also not a completely different kind of animation, like stop-motion. It’s another form entirely, where dedicated artists spend hours on certain scenes to make them utterly perfect, getting every detail correct – and most of the time, making it so colorful.

Spirited Away is one of those movies where the animation will just blow you away. There are so many shots from this film that truly blew my mind and made me wonder how on earth these artists were able to create such vivid sequences. Just the first entry into the enormous bathhouse that we are given, where we see so many different spirits and colors – it always astounds me every time I watch it. 

I have to say that the animation for this ties with another favorite Studio Ghibli film of mine, Howl’s Moving Castle. While I think it’s the best overall Studio Ghibli movie, the animation between of both is just amazing.

Chihiro in Spirted Away.

(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

And Every Character Is So Unique

Anime in general has given so many types of characters the chance to shine. I think that’s a huge reason why I prefer anime to traditional American animation, because it feels that every character is really given a story and a unique personality. I feel like half the time, I enjoy the side characters of shows like Attack on Titan or My Hero Academia almost more than the main character – because they’re so well done.

In Spirited Away, every character – and I mean every character – is so unique in so many ways. Not only in personality, but in design. There is not a single one that looks like another, from Yubaba to Haku to even No-Face. And their personalities are so distinctly different, it’s always a pleasure to see them again. 

Chihiro in Spirited Away.

(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

However, The Real Star Is Chihiro 

Chihiro is the main protagonist, so you would expect her to be the main star, but like I said before – sometimes the main characters are overshadowed by side-characters. It’s happened a lot more than you would expect. But I don’t feel that way with Chihiro in Spirited Away. 

The first time I had watched this movie, I was around the same age as Chihiro, so obviously I felt a connection to her in some way. It was like when I first played The Last of Us, and had a connection to Ellie because she was the same age as me at the time (fourteen). That’s just how my brain works – but Chihiro as a character is such a great protagonist to follow, not only for children, but for adults. 

For children, she is the perfect symbol of kindness. She’s willing to help anyone in order to get her parents back throughout the film, and does it all despite being scared of what is happening. For adults, Chihiro is what I like to call a perseverant hero – she may not seem like the average hero, because she is so young, but there is so much tenacity in everything that she does that you can’t help but root for her. 

Watching Chihiro work incredibly hard to try and get back to her family inspires me to work hard and achieve my goals – even if they’re not as big as serving spirits in a bathhouse. 

Chihiro in Spirted Away.

(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

The Music Is Absolutely Phenomenal

Music in anime films is something that I believe I have talked about multiple times in the past, but it’s because it is genuinely so good. Every single time I have listened to this soundtrack, my heart just feels so full.

I dare you to listen to “One Summer’s Day and not feel some type of way, or to listen all the way through “The Dragon Boy/The Bottomless Pit and not feel like you’re about to have the biggest and most epic fight of your life. It’s just the epitome of epic and makes me want to get up and do things. 

There are few soundtracks in my life that have affected me the way that the Spirited Away soundtrack has, so I suggest listening to it even if you haven’t seen the movie. 

Chihiro in Spirited Away.

(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

The Film Teaches Viewers To Embrace Differences 

I think one of the core reasons that I really like Spirited Away is that it really does teach valuable lessons, for both children and adults – one of which is that we all need to embrace our differences. In the movie, Chihiro invites someone into the bathhouse to clean him, but is only told after that he is the spirit of a polluted river. 

Even so, he can see her true kindness, and how even though he looked different from the others, she still let him in so he could properly be cleaned. 

Another example is when Chihiro (renamed Sen for a good portion of the movie) isn’t terrified of No-Face. While she holds slight fear for what he does throughout the movie, she isn’t screaming or yelling at him like everyone else in the bathhouse is doing. That kind of kindness is something that can only be taught – and I really learned how to embrace differences from this movie. 

Chihiro and Haku in Spirited Away.

(Image credit: Studio Ghibli)

It Also Teaches Compassion – And Love For Others

The other lesson that I like to talk about with Spirited Away is that it truly teaches kids to hold compassion for others. Chihiro is not only a great protagonist because of her perseverance, but because she genuinely cares about others. Throughout the film, we see her start to care about the spirits around her so that they can be happy, and we especially see how much she starts to care for Haku, the boy who helps her through this whole ordeal, when he is seriously hurt.

From these instances, we see how compassionate she truly is, and how she could teach her parents a thing or two about helping others in their time of need. Just her partnership with Haku throughout is meaningful enough for you to watch for that, but everything else is just done so wonderfully. 

If you’ve never seen Spirited Away, which was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, be sure to check it out. Not only will it be great for your kids to watch, but it’ll be an excellent hour and a half for you as well, no matter how old you are. 

Stream Spirited Away on HBO Max.
Rent/Buy Spirited Away on Amazon.

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.