DVD: Spirited Away (Disney)


Spirited Away

English DVD Title (Region 1)

Miyazaki's Spirited Away


Japanese (5.1 Surround), English (5.1 Surround), French (2.0 Stereo)

Aspect Ratio:

125 minutes
1.85:1 Anamorphic


Spirited Away



  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (16)
  • Trailers: Spirited Away (12 trailers, 10 TV spots), Castle in the Sky (US DVD), Kiki's Delivery Service (US DVD), Finding Nemo, Atlantis: Milo's Return, Stitch! the Movie, Bionicle: Mask of Light, The Lion King (DVD)
  • An Introduction by John Lasseter (1 minute)
  • The Art of Spirited Away (15 minutes)
  • Behind the Microphone (6 minutes)
  • Storyboard to Scene Comparison (10 minutes)
  • Nippon Television Special (42 minutes)



By: Anthony Romero

Disney's first foray into the world of Hayao Miyazaki. This 2003 release of the Academy Award winning Spirited Away starts to show some of what Disney would be known for with these titles. This includes a lot of care placed into the English dub track that they created, along with a faithful representation of the Japanese version as well. That said, the company would do better releases after this one, as the video track has some minor issues while the audio presentation is good and the extras numerous with a couple of gems among them.

 Video: Star Rating

Believe it or not, this disc has three different video tracks. One is for the Japanese version, presenting it untouched. This means the opening and closing credits are in Japanese and the title as well. The other is a two minute video track for the intro in English and the final is a seven minute video track for the ending credits in English. As one might expect, if you choose the English dub, you get the intro and end credits in English with the Japanese version playing in the middle. If you select the Japanese version, you get the Japanese track throughout. Sadly, the quality on the English tracks are poor. It's heavily compressed, making it hard to read the end credits when the text gets small. There are halos over fine details and a lot of obvious artifacts as well. Furthermore, the color is tinted brown too.

Thankfully, the main film on the Japanese track is much better. While there are signs of compression, it's more manageable. Sadly, the colors are still distorted here, with a faint yellow tint and without a distinct color range. That said, it's much better than the heavier brown tint on the English video tracks. Sharpness wise, the image is clear for a standard definition release. The image is also window boxed, with an area of black around the image. This was done so that older TV sets wouldn't cut off some of the image, although adds to the data that has to be present and therefore creates added compression. In terms of the condition of the source used, it's in great shape. Noise levels are also excellent, with a low level of grain present. Overall, though, it's a good video presentation, although better experienced when watching the Japanese version without the English audio tracks appearing at the start and end.

Spirited Away is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is anamorphic for widescreen TVs.


 Audio: Star Rating

The DVD set contains a total of three different audio tracks. First up is the English dub created by Disney for this release, presented in a 5.1 surround track. While some of these actors will be known to animation fans, it wouldn't be until the dubbing for Howl's Moving Castle (2004) that Disney would start to fill these with major stars. Regardless of pedigree, the cast here does a good job with the dub, although Disney would go on to do better dubbing tracks for later releases. In terms of quality, it's great, with some good directionality when the audio allows it.

Next up is the original Japanese audio track, presented in 5.1 surround sound. The quality is great for this track, with solid clarity in the dialogue and good directionality for the action sequences. It's nice to see that they didn't skimp on this track in favor of the new dub, as it sounds exceptional.

The final track is a 2.0, stereo French dub. The dubbing is a little over the top, although the clarity in the dialogue is decent and there are no discrepancies to speak of in the track.

The movie can be accompanied by removable English subtitles. There are two versions of these, one that is meant for the hearing impaired and the other translates the Japanese dialogue and text only.


 Extras: Star Rating

This two disc set is chalk full of extras. While they aren't all great, there is a lot of bonus material to pick through across the two DVDs.

First up, on the main DVD, is an Introduction by John Lasseter, director of Toy Story and other Pixar titles. He gives a one minute introduction to why the movie is so magical... basically this extra can be skipped.

Next is The Art of Spirited Away. This is an English based extra, done in English and featuring interviews for those behind the American version. It's a 15 minute short hosted by Jason Marsden, who dubbed Haku. It does feature a few moments of Hayao Miyazaki talking, but this is dubbed over. There are a few insights where the cast had troubles bringing the concepts to English, but overall one is better off just checking the Television Special found on the second disc for deeper insight.

Moving on to the bonus disc, first up is the Behind the Microphone extra. This takes a look at the English dubbing process for the movie. As part of this, interviews are done with actors like Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette and Susan Egan. The latter, who was the voice of Meg from Disney's Hercules, also did dubbing for Porco Rosso (1993). The extra is decent and presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Next up is the Storyboard to Scene Comparison feature. This extra takes the first ten minutes of the movie and shows the storyboards lined up with the audio. There are a few times where footage from the movie is shown, but it's 95% the storyboards. Audio can be either in English or Japanese, with no subtitles. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and it's not that thrilling but a cool bonus.

This is followed by the coolest feature on this release which is the Nippon Television Special. Done in Japanese, with English subtitles, and filmed at a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The 42 minute feature is filled with information, taken right from director Hayao Miyazaki for a lot of it. Even staff meetings, talking about animation direction, are included. This short was actually created to promote the movie, and as a result the spectre of Princess Mononoke (1997) hangs heavy over the feature. This includes references to it and even using some of the music. This makes sense considering the mammoth box office performance of the 1997 movie... although the staff probably had no idea that Spirited Away would shatter that record. In terms of the extra, although very informative, the video quality could have been better, likely due to its televised nature.

Finally is 28, yes 28, minutes worth of trailers for the movie. This is a total of 12 trailers and 10 TV spots in Japanese. Although done in a 1:33.1 aspect ratio, with black bars, the video quality is generally great. The exceptions are the 7th and 8th trailer along with the 12th that has burnt-in English subtitles on it. Aside from the 12th trailer, the others have removable English subtitles available for them.


 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line, Disney did a good job with this release. Back in its day when first released, it was the best of the Miyazaki DVDs in the US. While it hasn't aged well enough to keep anything even close to resembling that title, it's still a good presentation on the format. Furthermore, later releases, such as the DVD found with the Blu-ray, simply repackaged the first disc from this set. So those looking for the movie on DVD are still best off with this release.