Spirited Away

Movie review by
Liz Perle, Common Sense Media
Spirited Away Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Magnificent movie with scary creatures and a strong heroine.
  • PG
  • 2002
  • 125 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 87 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 265 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

If you have faith in yourself, you can overcome your fears and act courageously enough to save those you love from danger. Also, kindness, selflessness, and a lack of greed will provide great rewards. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Chihiro is an exemplary 10-year-old girl who selflessly enters the world of spirits to save her parents. She faces frightening circumstances and rises to the occasion each time. She is kind while others are greedy. Characters demonstrate courage, perseverance, humility, and gratitude.


The scariest part is when a beloved character in the shape of a dragon returns home injured with blood coming out of his mouth and droplets of blood splatter as he moves. He seems close to death at times. Parents becomes ravenous in a disturbing way and turn into pigs, and Chihiro isn't sure they'll turn back into humans. A couple of characters, like No-Face and Yubaba can be off-putting and disturbing to younger viewers. The creatures range from strange looking birds or serpents and shape-shifting things to a carnivorous creature that lures others with gold and then preys on them. Various creatures shift into scary beings or people, and spells make odd things happen like a girl's mouth zippered shut. A giant baby causes trouble and kicks someone in the face. The mood is foreboding and ominous when Chihiro walks through the woods or encounters these strange creatures.


None, but a gigantic baby's bottom is visible. Chihiro and Haku share a close and loving bond, but there's no hint of romance.


There's one threatening exclamation, "I'll rip your mouth."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character smokes a cigarette and another is shown with an ashtray containing cigarettes. Sake is offered to someone.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hayao Miyazaki's magical adventure Spirited Away is widely considered an animated masterpiece, but it can be a creepy and frightening experience for younger viewers. There are dozens of freaky-looking creatures that threaten each other or the protagonist, who is trying to save her parents. Many, many scenes involve these strange beings, and younger children used to more sanitized characters may find them disturbing. One particularly scary scene involves a beloved character in the shape of a dragon who returns from a journey injured, bloody, and on the verge of death. One character smokes and in a dinner scene someone is offered sake. Older children ready for a more sophisticated animated tale will be mature enough to enjoy this story of a brave young female protagonist.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byCourtney W. October 15, 2013

Wacky and Wonderful for Over 10

This movie is really wacky, but since it's by Miyazaki, it is beautifully wacky. I began to wonder if there were some mushrooms involved in its creation.... Continue reading
Adult Written byJohn A. February 19, 2021

Rated PG (frequent mild threat, scary scenes, occasional bloody images).

SEX/NUDITY - Some of the creatures and supernatural beings are shown with bare backsides, although this is in no way treated as sexual and is purely coincidenta... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byRooibosChai January 28, 2019

Must see it in your life!

I watched it when I was around 8 or 9 and have watched it about once a year ever since. Art is stunning, plot is heartwarming and thought-provoking. Some parts... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old March 8, 2020

Really good movie but some scenes could be scary for younger children

I think that Spirited Away is a great movie for older kids. I would say 10+ because while younger kids might not be scared of it, they wouldn’t enjoy it/underst... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SPIRITED AWAY, Chihiro is a sullen 10-year-old girl who wanders into a world ruled by witches and monsters, where humans are changed into animals. When her parents gorge themselves on enchanted food, they turn into pigs and Chihiro must overcome her whiny self in order to enter the spirit world and win them back. To do this, she must appeal to Yubaba, the scary old witch who runs the spirit bath-house. Chihiro is aided by Haku, Yubaba's right hand helper and our heroine's friend.

Is it any good?

This is a thrilling, spectacularly beautiful movie, though it's not for little kids who get scared. Despite the animation similarities, Spirited Away is not Totoro, the beloved "feel-good" classic, but an edgy portrayal of what a young girl needs to do to grow up and take responsibility for more than herself. She fights Yubaba, she rescues Haku and aids a wounded spirit, triumphing where others do not because she is not sidetracked by greed.

Excellent voice-overs are provided by Davleigh Chase as Chihiro, Jason Marsden as Haku, Suzanne Pleshette as Yubaba, Michael Chiklis as Chihiro's father, Lauren Holly as Chihiro's mother, and John Ratzenberger as the Assistant Manager. John Lasseter of Toy Story fame directed the English voices.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Spirited Away compares to mainstream American animated films. What's different? What's similar?

  • What parts of the movie did you find frightening and/or creepy? Why? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • Is Chihiro a role model? How does she demonstrate perseverance and courage? What about humility and gratitude? Why are these important character strengths?

  • What other movies have you seen with girl main characters? Is there anything different about Chihiro compared to other movie girls? Does this movie challenge or reinforce any stereotypes?

  • Why do you think this movie is considered an anime classic? How is it different from the majority of Hollywood animated movies?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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