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     " You'll see why I had no choice but to beat the other monkeys off with a gasoline soaked stick. Only the strongest get to review this kind of quality! "

      Title: Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli, distributed by Walt Disney (Yes, you red that correctly)

      Format: Anime DVD

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: Miyazaki's newest award winning opus hits the small screen. Join young Chihiro as she journeys to a mystical land filled with ghosts and demons… most of whom are taking baths… Now this little girl must draw on the strength she never knew she had. After all, have you ever tried to wash off a Stink God? It's not easy! Will the movie take you away, or will you be left at the train station? Read on my big-eyed monkeys.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Animation: Those already familiar with Studio Ghibli's work will be immediately at home here. Cute rounded features are prominent, although the creatures can swiftly become angular and foreboding when their characters demand it. It's all very endearing and entirely charming. The characters are all memorable, especially some of the more outlandish characters, such as the arachnid-like boiler room keeper and his living balls of soot. The bright beautiful colors are the perfect capper and give the whole movie a great vibrancy and life. The animation is top notch, combining that hand drawn feel with the smooth computer animation modern anime has taken to heart. The action gets pretty intense in some of the scenes and the animation never fails to keep up (Of course, when a giant frog looking critter is puking its black guts all over the screen, you might wish the animation wasn't keeping up that well…) 5 out of 5

      Story and Voice Acting: Here's a little tip for you- If you walk into a small town and find an abandoned restaurant filled with food waiting to be eaten… DON'T EAT IT! You know it's a trap; nobody just leaves food out for you to find. It's bound to do something to you, make you like Kenny G, or turn you into a pig, or something equally horrific. Well, since nobody would ever believe a story about somebody actually liking Kenny G, Chihiro's parents are soon turned into giant pigs. Chihiro is then forced to work at the local bathhouse… of the Spirits! With a little help from some of her new friends, she must persevere to save her parents and herself. It's a delightfully cute story. It's got its twists and turns. The owner of the bathhouse is a wicked witch type (replete with a mole the size of Kentucky in the middle of her forehead), but her henchman, Haku, provides the romantic interest for the piece. The voice acting is well done and the emotion is definitely maintained from the original Japanese audio. I suppose it's the Disney power behind it, but the studio Ghibli flicks always seem to have a celebrity cast for their English dub. Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Jason Marsden, all play key roles in the movie, and with notable skill. John Ratzenburger, Pixar's perennial favorite, even makes an appearance. The translation cuts very close to the original Japanese and maintains the intent of the lines nicely. Not every change is for the best, but it's generally well done. No awkward grammar or inane translation mistakes here, it's a well-done professional outing. When all's said and done, it's a charming magical movie with a great story and above par dubbing. For you purists, the original Japanese track is still very much in tact, and makes for a quality listening experience. 5 out of 5

      Value vs. Price: If you can't watch a movie without knowing that it gets the John Lasseter seal of approval first… then you have some serious fixation issues and should probably see a doctor. Still, he does give a brief introduction to the movie. Contained within this two-disc set are a variety of extras and bonus materials. You can watch certain segments of the movie entirely in storyboard form. There is a very detailed behind the scenes featurette about the making of the film (although the audio is Japanese); a segment with the voice actors also makes the cut. A few other extras, including some for the PC only and you've got a decently loaded package here. While the extras are cool, none of them is really awe inspiring, or worth buying the package for. No, the real beauty of the package though is that this movie tells a delightful tale, and is full of wonderful characters, just inviting you to watch it over and over. The movie itself is what's worth the price of admission. The extras do make a nice icing, and are certainly worth swaying those on the edge between buying it and not. 4.5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       This is a fantastic movie, a truly great example of Miyazaki's fine storytelling abilities. Once more, he's created a magical tale to fill our hearts with wonder… and other such sappy sentiments. What can I say? This movie's warm and fuzzy with enough action and adventure to keep most viewers happy. And not just anime fans... This movie makes a great crossover for those folks in your life you're trying to get to appreciate anime films. That value alone makes this film worthy of our highest monkey praises. Add in all the goodness from above and you'll see why I had no choice but to beat the other monkeys off with a gasoline soaked stick. Only the strongest get to review this kind of quality!

      The Good: Awesome anime from studio Ghibli

      The Bad: I suppose I could nitpick and say that the extras aren't the greatest ever…

      The Overall Ugly: I know, I know, it says 'Disney' on the front. Don't worry, there're no smarmy animal companions to be found here.

      What it's Worth: The going price is quite fair.

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