In the Spa House of the Spirits: Spirited Away (2001)

It is Time for Our Annual Disney and Animated Film

So this film isn’t considered a “Halloween” movie by some, but I always think of it as one because when they rerelease the Studio Ghibli films in theaters every month, they always do this one in October. Not to mention it has spirits in it.

I think I have seen it maybe three times in theaters? I forget. Anyways, I love this movie.

I first heard of Studio Gibli because my friend was really into the films. We watched Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro. Then when I was in college my best friend and roommate had a bunch of his films and we watched Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke.

I absolutely loved Howl’s Moving Castle and bought it- making my nieces watch it, (they love it now too), and Spirited Away.  And as I still needed a Disney film and an animated film (yearly Horrorfest tradition) I thought it was perfect!

So the film is Japanese, and then voice dubbed in English for the states. There are a few differences in phrases and terms, mostly because there are things you won’t understand if you don’t know Japanese culture.

So the film starts out with little Chihiro (Daveigh Chase) and her parents are driving to their new home. Chihiro is very upset to have to leave her friends and family.

Her father decides to go down a shortcut, which leads him through an old abandoned amusement park and the world of Kami (spirits) of Japanese Shinto folklore.

Her parents see the food left out for the spirits and eat it. Oh no-you aren’t supposed to do that. Being of Mexican descent, I know you never, ever eat the food for the dead/spirits. Remember that Lizzie McGuire episode?

So of course her parents have something bad happen to them, they turn into pigs and run off!

Poor 10-year old Chihiro, what is she going to do now?

Luckily, she is saved by a young boy, Haku (Jason Marsden [he played Goofy’s son Max], who takes her to the bathhouse. He gives her some food to eat so she can remain in the spirit world.

Haku: Don’t be afraid, I just wanna help you.

Chihiro: No… no… no… no… no…

Haku: Open your mouth and eat this. If you don’t eat food from this world, you’ll disappear.

He tells her to see the boiler man Kamaji, and ask for a job. He will have to give her one if she asks and then she can stay in the world, and look for her parents. He refuses, but does claim her as his granddaughter.

Kamaji sends her to the owner of the spahouse, the witch Yubaba. Yubaba tries to scare her off, but as Chihiro prevails, she gets hired on and signs a contract. Yubaba takes her name and changes it to Sen. Haku finds her later and gives her the card from her friend with her real name. He warns her, don’t forget you name or else you can never leave.

I liked that, as in fairy tales that is a common theme with witches and warlocks, Rumplestilskin-your name is powerful.

No one likes Sen as she is still human. She gets paired with Lin (Susan Egan, who you’ll recognize the voice as the same actress who was Meg in Hercules). Lin is unhappy as no one wants to help her as well, now that she is paired with Sen. Yubaba makes things difficult by giving them the hardest tasks as she wants to break little Sen.

One night, Sen notices something outside when she goes to close the doors. She spots No-Face, which is not supposed to come into the spa (but she doesn’t know that). She leaves the door open as she gets called away by Lin to take care of the stink spirit. After she leaves, No-Face comes in.

That’s not good.

They need serious help to clean up this one, but the guy who gives the special spa bath salts won’t give her anything. However, No Face grabs her a bunch of them. As they clean the stink spirit, Sen realizes that he needs more than just a bath.

Lin: Sen! Sen, where are you?

Chihiro: [from beside the Stink Spirit] Over here!

Lin: Don’t worry… stay right where you are, I’m coming to get you! You’re gonna be fine, I won’t let him hurt you.

Chihiro: I think he needs help! It feels like there’s a thorn in his side!

She frees him and the creature is horrifying looking to me, creeps me out, but he’s the nice spirit of a polluted river and gives Sen a magic emetic dumpling and gold to everyone else.

All are happy, but Sen feels a little distressed. She misses her family and can’t find Haku anywhere.

Lin warns her to stay away frpm Haku, that he is evil and works for the witch Yubaba-don’t trust him. But Sen is convinced that Haku is good.

Meanwhile No-Face has made fake gold and has been treated like a king in the spa. He demands food and tips well, eatign workers when they keep him from reaching Sen.

Meanwhile, Haku has returned from his mission (in the shape of a dragon), and is attacked by paper Shikigami. Haku and Sen try to fight them off, but one morphs into Yubaba’s twin sister, Zeniba, and reveals he stole a seal from her.

That’s not good.

Yubaba’s giant crazy baby Boh captures Sen and doesn’t want her to leave. He wants her to stay and play with her, threatening to break her arm and force her to stay-this baby always scared me.

On second thought-with this baby in it, it is a horror movie.

Zeniba’s image does not like how the baby speaks to her and turns him into a mouse and makes a hologram baby. Haku then attacks her shikigami and that destroys the Zeniba hologram. He’s badly injured and falls down to the boiler room with Sen and Boh.

Kamaji diagnoses him as having eaten some pretty powerful magic. Sen gets the great idea to give him some of  the dumpling she got earlier. He coughs up the seal and a worm, which Sen destroys. Boh and Kamaji’s soot creatures reenact it.

She has to travel to Zeniba and take the seal. Kamaji gives her his roll of tickets to take the spirit train and she is about to head out-but is stopped by the antics of No-Face. No-Face has been going crazy trying to find Sen and eating everything!

Okay I was an adult when I saw this but he is so crazy and creepy looking, he has ALWAYS terrified me. He’s like the creepy blob thing in Phantoms.

She gives him the rest of the dumpling and he spits everything up. Sen leaves and No Face goes with them. Sen, No Face, Boh, and Yubaba’s crow all travel on the train to see Zeniba.

When they reach Zeniba they are surprised to discover that she is so kind and nice. She puts them to work, No Face weaves and the others help out.

They then have a tea party,

And Zeniba reveals she can’t do anything to help her, her parents, or Haku. Chihiro must do it.

Zeniba: I’d like to help you, dear, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s one of our rules here. You’ve got to take care of your parents and that dragon boyfriend of yours, on your own.

Chihiro: But, um, can’t you even give me a hint? I feel like Haku and I met, a long time ago.

Zeniba: In that case, it’s easy. Nothing that happens is ever forgotten, even if you can’t remember it.

Haku wakes up and goes after them. No-Face stays behind while Chihiro, Boh, and the little crow decide to return to the spa house. Sen frees him when she gives him his name back.

Chihiro: Haku, listen. I just remembered something from a long time ago, I think it may help you. Once, when I was little, I dropped my shoe into a river. When I tried to get it back I fell in. I thought I’d drown but the water carried me to shore. It finally came back to me. The river’s name was the Kohaku river. I think that was you, and your real name is Kohaku River.

Haku: You did it, Chihiro! I remember! I was the spirit of the Kohaku River.

Chihiro: A river spirit?

Haku: My name is the Kohaku River.

Chihiro: They filled in that river, it’s all apartments now.

Haku: That must be why I can’t find my way home, Chihiro, I remember you falling into the river, and I remember your little pink shoe.

Chihiro: So, you’re the one who carried me back to shallow water, you saved me… I knew you were good!

But not all is taken care of. Chihiro must now past the test to pick her parents from the pigs or be stuck there forever.

Hmmm…

She and her parents are free and leave. Her parents are groggy as if they have just woken from a dream, and they find their car covered in vines and such as if it has been sitting out there for a long time. I wonder how long they were in the spirt world? Does her father still have a job?

Hmmm

They head to their home and Chihiro’s father asks is she is nervous about going to a new school. After all Chihiro has been through school will not be a problem.

This is an absolutely adorable film, although it does have some creepy moments in it. No-Face,

Spooky…

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more animated films, go to Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

For more Disney films, go to One Who Was Both Hero and Villain: Maleficent (2014)

For more ghosts, go to To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved Before: The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)

Green Tea Frappuccino

So I know some of you are thinking…uh didn’t you say you were going to resume reviewing Rational Creatures?

You are all 100% right. However, this weekend I left the hot three digit heat to visit my friend in cool, comfortable degree weather-San Jose.

I was hoping to have the next installment of Rational Creatures ready but it’s isn’t and I don’t want to post a lackluster review for a book that I have been enjoying. So instead I thought I would pause and share a yummy tea recipe that will help you beat this summer (it’s not fall in California until October) heat.

This recipe comes from my sister blog, MysteriousEatsand is a way to make a homemade Green Tea Frappuccino which stars one of my favorite teas:

So I mentioned in Matcha, Matcha, Matcha that my niece and I would go on these faux-around the world trips. One day she wanted to go to Japan so I planned a trip around town and then we ended the day with the tea ceremony. As I had leftover Matcha and I love the Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino-it was a no brainer to use my sister blog’s recipe and make my own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Ice Cubes (Less than 10)
  • 1 Scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon of Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of Matcha Green Tea Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Vanilla or Vanilla Extract
  • Xanthan Gum (Optional)
  • Whipped Cream (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Add all the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Pulse and blend on high until thorough.
  3. Add whipped cream if you want.

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It’s absolutely delicious!

For more tea posts, go to I Won the Regency Marketplace Giveaway

For more Mysterious Eats recipes, go to Cheese Round

For more recipes, go to Matcha, Matcha, Matcha

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth & Charlotte

A World of Teas

Recently I was given a collection of five teas; A World of Teas by Tea forté. 

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As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea.

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You guys ready?

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Tea #1: Bombay Chai from Bombay, India

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This tea was spicy with layers of taste. The first thing that popped in my head was the scene from Sense & Sensibility (1995) when Colonel Brandon says the air is full of spices. This made me think that this book was the perfect pairing.

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Its range of spices and many layers make it just like Colonel Brandon.

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At first glance an average soldier, but as you read you see there are many parts to him. Plus it seemed as if it would be something he would drink after his time abroad.

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

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Tea #2 Moroccan Mint from Morocco

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This tea was refreshing and cool, but also predictable. This was a familiar taste with no real surprises, however that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. For that reason, I choose Death on Demand by Carolyn G. Hart.

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Death on Demand is the beginning of the series and follows amateur private detective and mystery bookstore owner, Annie Laurence, as she tries to figure out which of the many possible suspects killed an annoying, blackmailing, author. She is racing against the clock as if she cannot find the real killer, she will end up being thrown in jail!

While at times it may be predictable the character and stories always leave me coming back for more.

For more on Death on Demand, go to It’s Fantastico!
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Tea #3 African Solstice from South Africa

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So this one started off good, lots of flavor and taste; but then I had the rooibos. I don’t like rooibos, as for me it has a weird aftertaste that I just don’t agree with. Once those came in, this tea was lost on me. The book I thought would be the best pairing is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart is the story of Nigerian Okonkwo, an Ibo leader. The book chronicles his life, family culture, and ambitions. An accident causes things to derail for Okonkwo, and he is sent away. While he regroups and plans how to re-achieve his prior success, the British arrive with their influence and missionaries changing the structure of the villages. Will Okonkwo be able to adapt? Or will he fall under the British wheel of “progress”?

Like this African tea, I really enjoyed about two-thirds of the novel. The rooiboss of the the novel, for me, was the ending. I thought it built up perfectly, but ended way to soon, with enough falling action. It is like when you bake a cake and open the oven too soon, causing the cake to fall. That’s how the ending of this book and tea were to me, too soon.

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Tea #4: Sencha from Japan

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This tea at first seems simple and plain, but as you drink it you realize there is a whole lot more going on, and it has an incredible flavor. I finished this tea off first of all the others in the collection.

This actually made me think of two books. The first being Mansfield Park:

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At first glance Mansfield Park seems simple and a lot say it is boring. Fanny is a placid girl, often being the tool of others instead of going after what she wants. However, as you continue reading you see that Fanny has a lot more to her character than meets the eye. She is often passive as she is grateful for being pulled out of a bad situation; but when one tries to force her to do something she really does not want to (marriage to Mr. Crawford, a first class rake) she becomes a will of iron and will not be bent. She completely encompasses the old Japanese proverb of being bamboo, willing to bend with the wind but not break.

The second being Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

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Now I don’t want to spend too much time on this book as I am planning on reviewing it in the winter as part of my 30 Day challenge.

However, Hale is a master crafter as she takes the simple fairy tale of Maid Maleen and turns it into this incredible adventure full of bravery, romance, and supernatural elements.

For more on Mansfield Park, go to Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose: Superbowl 50

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Tea #5 Estate Darjeeling from Darjeeling, India.

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I’ve had other Darjeeling but didn’t like them, I thought they were too sweet and didn’t care for them. However, this one was fantastic! It was an amazing surprise.

Originally I thought I would pair this with Emma, but instead I think two other books would be better:

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When I first had read the Jane Austen novels, I had heard of all of them (and seen film adaptions) except these two. Not only had I never heard of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, it appears most fans of Jane Austen also don’t really know much about them. Why is that?

Anyways, when I first read them I was so surprised with how amazingly great they are that they knocked my list of favorites all about. Perfect match with a surprisingly fantastic tea.

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen
For more on Persuasion, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary

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After all:

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For more on tea, go to My Trip to Teavana

For more book-filled posts, go to Post Approved

Let Them Fight: Godzilla (2014)

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“This alpha predator of yours, doctor, do you really think he has a chance? The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around. Let them fight.”

So when this film came out I had mixed feelings. I was a huge Godzilla fan when I was a kid and saw all the films growing up, and after the 1998 debacle I wasn’t too excited. My friend, however, really wanted to see the midnight showing, so we did. After I saw the film, I had even more mixed feelings of it. So here we are the pros & cons

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Pros:

1) Opening Credits

  • These beginning credits were amazing! I loved how they had pictures from old drawing of plesiosaurus, dinosaurs, disaster headlines, and pictures from the 1940s-50s atomic testing. I thought it was a great idea to overlay it by blacking out words and names to reveal the director, producers, actors, etc.

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2) Half the Film Was Set in Japan.

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  • I loved that the beginning to middle of the film was set in Japan as it made it much closer to the original film. I felt it also made Godzilla seem more authentic having it set in Japan. And I absolutely loved that unlike the “whitewashed” Godzilla (1998) they had lots of Asians in the film who actually spoke in Japanese.

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3) Increased Diversity

Double double yay

  • I also loved that when they moved through different locations, the diversity continued. In Japan we have Japanese; in Hawaii, we see Asians, Whites, and Pacific Islanders; and in  California we have a huge increase in Latino actors. This was great as even in 2014, films tend to be centered on one ethnic group.

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4) Godzilla Was Actually Godzilla-(Ravaged the City while Protecting it)

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  • This is extremely important, as who wants a Godzilla that doesn’t do anything? The earlier Godzilla films caused countless destruction, but at the same time were trying to “save” the city from other monsters. A type of “I’m the only one who can ruin this city”-type thing. You know, like when you have an older sibling that picks on you, but protects you from everyone else? Well in the 1998 Godzilla, not only was it an incredibly dumb storyline (and oh Matthew Broderick was incredibly stupid in that film!) but he just destroyed. He wasn’t fighting anything.

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Cons:

1) WHERE WAS GODZILLA???

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  • GODZILLA WAS BARELY EVEN IN THE FILM!!!!! It takes 55 minutes, HALF THE FILM!!!!, before we even SEE GODZILLA!!!!! I mean I know they wanted to surprise us and throw us for a loop by having the first creature be the MUTO (Moving Unidentified Terrestrial Object), instead of Godzilla; but really? REALLY????? THEY ARE ONLY GOING TO SHOW THE BACK OF GODZILLA???!!!! WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE FILM???!!! GODZILLA!!! NOT MUTO!!!

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2) Fight? More Like Flight!

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  • WHAT WAS UP WITH THE FIGHT SCENES???!!! We get a millisecond of him fighting the male MUTO and a glimpse of the female. Then that’s it, game over. Really, really now? Why do you think I even came to see this film, I wanted to see the freakin’ monsters fight!!!

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3) MUTO? Better Name WIT (What is This?)

What the

  • What was up with the MUTOs? What the heck were those things?
  • I get the teasing of Mothra. We  see it on the poster in Ford Brady’s room and it is the name of one of his pet insects.  But then its not Mothra, and I’m okay with that if only they WOULD TELL US WHAT IT IS!!! They give us a male bat/moth thing and a female bat/ape thing? What are they? Where did they come from? Tell us! TELL US!!!

Suspense have to know

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4) The Wife

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  • I FREAKIN’ HATED THE WIFE!! SHE WAS SOOO HORRIBLE!!
  • She did not act like one happy to see the person they have been apart from. I mean she hasn’t seen him in IN OVER 14 MONTHS and he has a job where HE COULD DIE EVERY DAY!!! They are back together and she’s like “nope I need to answer the phone.” “Oh you have to leave, I’ll see you soon. Good-bye!” I mean her husband just got back and she’s pushing him off!!!! She should have been like “I don’t want you to go but your dad needs you so you need to go” or something.
  • Then there is when she thinks her husband is hurt in the destruction of Japan by the MUTO. THERE IS NO WAY THAT SHE WOULD HAVE LEFT HER PHONE IN THE OTHER ROOM AND ON VIBRATE. SHE WOULD HAVE THAT THING LOUD AND ON HER 24/7 IN CASE HE CALLED!!!
  • Then she is at the hospital, and let me do one quick reminder. Her husband has returned after being away over 14 months. He immediately had to go to Japan where there has been all kinds of destruction (as MUTO escaped) and she hasn’t heard from him. Then she gets a call on the hospital phone while she is at work (she’s a nurse) AND DOESN’T ANSWER THE PHONE??? SHE HASN’T SPOKEN TO HER HUSBAND IN OVER 24 HOURS!!! SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN RUSHING TO THAT PHONE TO SEE IF IT WAS HER HUSBAND!!!
  •  I thought she was having an affair or something the way she acted.

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5) We Can Kill Them- They’re Just Tourists

  • They kill sooooooooooo many people.
  • When they are in Hawaii, one of the largest tourist attractions ever, and they don’t even clear the beaches before they start bombing and shooting? That was like Waikiki, do you know how many people are there on vacations?
  • In San Francisco, they just bomb and shoot everything!
  • There is no way they could do that. They could never get away with that much killing of U.S. citizens, no way!!

If you really want a closer look at the issues with it, check out Everything Wrong With. They are spot on!

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But no matter what issues it face it was far, far, far better than that travesty of a Broderick film, and that in itself is enough for me.

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To start  Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

To go to the previous post, go to I’ll Be Back

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For more on Godzilla, go to Just Follow the Screams

For more on monster movies, go to They’re Coming to Get You

For more on atomic bombs, go to From the Sea Burning Like Fire

For more remakes, go to It’s Coming From Inside the House