Movies Like 'Spirited Away'

Updated on February 4, 2019
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Abhishek is a self-proclaimed pop-culture expert—a movie addict who can't get enough of enthralling anime.

What Movies Are Like Spirited Away?

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away is often recognized as one of the best animated movies of all time. It is a coming-of-age fantasy film about Chihiro Ogino, a sullen 10-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighborhood, enters the spirit world of Japanese Shinto-Buddhist folklore. After her parents are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba, Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba’s bathhouse in an attempt to find a way to free herself and her parents.

This movie is a dazzling and gorgeously drawn fairy tale that seamlessly flows from scene to scene and from emotion to emotion, leaving you curious and fascinated.

If you love this movie and you're looking for other movies with similar themes, I’ve got you covered. Here’s the list of movies similar to Spirited Away guaranteed to take you on an expansive and mesmerizing journey.

1. Howl's Moving Castle

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Howl’s Moving Castle is a 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film. Loosely based on the novel of the same name by British author Diana Wynne Jones, the story features an 18-year-old girl named Sophie who has been cursed by a witch and turned into an old woman. She sets out to seek her fortune, which takes her to Howl’s bizarre moving castle. There, she meets Calcifer, a fire demon that powers the castle to move and has a contract with Howl. Calcifer promises to help Sophie become young again if she helps him break out of the contract. Things go south when she starts to fall in love with Howl.

The story, however, just works as an exterior for all the unfeigned emotion, passion, beauty and meditation on age and love. It's allegorical. If you haven’t watched this gem already, it’s about time you redeemed yourself.

2. Princess Mononoke

Set in the 14th century of Japan, Princess Mononoke is a historical fantasy war film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This movie is a lodestar in the world of animation with its simple yet morally complex story and stupendous visuals.

The story follows Ashitaka, a sanguine young warrior, who gets struck by a deadly curse while protecting his village from a rampaging boar-god. Now, he must journey to the forests of the West to find himself a cure. Once there, he is embroiled in a war between Lady Eboshi and her loyal clan against the gods of the forest and a valiant young woman, Princess Mononoke. Ashitaka sees righteousness in both sides and tries to resolve their differences before they collide with one another.

If you like Spirited Away, you should definitely give this movie a go. You won't be disappointed.

3. Pan's Labyrinth

Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth is a Mexican/Spanish dark fantasy drama. Set in the Falangist Spain of 1944, the story follows Ofelia, a 12-year-old girl who is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a callous captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets an old faun in the center of a labyrinth. He tells her she’s a princess but must prove her loyalty by surviving three grisly tasks. If she fails, she will never be able to see her real father, the king.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a terrifying, morally expansive, and visually stupendous fairy tale for grown-ups with fantasy and gloomy drama blended together into a spectacular and enthralling tale.

If you like the expansive and enchanting fairy tale os Spirited Away, do give this movie a try.

4. WALL.E

Directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton, WALL.E is an American computer-animated science fiction film produced by Pixar Animation Studios. This feature is an eclectic and quite audacious concoction of diverse elements, yet it all coheres delightfully.

The movie is set in a distant but not so unrealistic future where mankind has deserted earth as it has become covered with garbage. WALL.E, a solitary trash compactor, has been left to clean up the clutter. One day, he is visited by a sleek probe, EVE, who is sent to the earth to find out if life once again is feasible. WALL.E falls in love with EVE and pursues her across the galaxy, setting into motion one of the most exhilarating and ingenious comedy adventures ever brought to the big screen.

If you are looking for some transfixing movies like Spirited away, you will adore the unlikely romance of two robots in this movie.

5. Kiki's Delivery Service

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki’s Delivery Service is an adaptation of the 1985 novel of the same name by Eiko Kadono. This coming-of-age fantasy film is about Kiki, a 13-year-old witch-in-training. She must spend a year living on her own in a distant town to become a full-blown witch. Accompanied by a talking black cat named Gigi, she rides her broom to town and works at a bakery as a delivery person. She learns the hassle and the growing pains of living on her own.

This conventional but gorgeously rendered tale exudes with self-discovery and valor. Underlying its straightforward story, the pic is an allegory and social commentary about the tiff between independence and reliance in teenage Japanese girls.

If you're in forage of something uplifting, you should give Kiki's Delivery Service a chance. This is one of those movies that will always draw a smile on your face.

6. Children Who Chase Lost Voices

Children Who Chase Lost Voices is a 2011 Japanese anime film directed by Makoto Shinkai. The film is a fantasy adventure, starring a young girl Asuna who is both bright and valiant. She spends her free time playing in the forests of the mountain near her house and listening to a radio powered by a peculiar crystal. One day she hears a hauntingly beautiful melody from the radio and meets a mysterious boy who disappears almost as soon as they meet. He is presumed dead. Asuna, however, meets him again and starts her adventure into the underworld where she learns important lessons about life, death, and love.

This coming-of-age tale takes you to a new, extraordinary world dwelled in by bizarre creatures, and filled with both beauty and terror. Blending together ancient mythology and a little bit of romance, this film encompasses the grandeur of Spirited Away - mesmerizing artwork, adventure at every turn, and enchanting creatures all swathed in a timeless story.

7. To the Forest of Firefly Lights

If you adored the Japanese-style supernatural part of a young girl’s journey in Spirited Away but wished there was more to the romance element, look no further than To the Forest of Firefly Lights. This movie is based on a one-shot shojo manga written by Yuki Midorikawa.

The story follows a six-year-old girl named Hotaru Takegawa who gets lost in a forest inhabited by various supernatural beings. While there, she meets Gin, a mask-wearing human-like entity. Hotaru learns that her friend is supernatural and touching Gin will cause him to vanish. She returns every summer to spend time with her masked friend, and their relationship matures as they both tussle with its limitations.

Hotaru has always only looked to Gin as her childhood crush, but what will happen as she gets older? On the other hand, Gin, a spirit who has always avoided humans until meeting Hotaru, wonders if their relationship will ever mature. To the Forest of Firefly Lights is a timeless tale of a forbidden love adorned with Japanese folklore.

This passionate and mesmerizing tale will make you want to run to your nearest enchanted forest.

8. The Secret World of Arrietty

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and animated by Studio Ghibli, The Secret World of Arrietty is a 2010 Japanese animated fantasy film. This movie is an adaptation of a novel, The Borrowers, written by Mary Norton.

The story follows Arrietty, a tiny but tenacious 14-year old and rest of Clock family. The clock family members are 4-inch-tall people who live in tranquil anonymity as they make their own home from items that they borrow from the house’s human inhabitants. Their existence goes mostly undiscovered until the arrival of 12-year-old Shou. Shou soon meets Arrietty and strikes up an unlikely friendship. This friendship, however, is fraught with danger as it risks Arrietty and her family’s discovery.

The Secret World of Arrietty throbs with feeling for childhood and nature and develops a surprising amount of suspense, despite taking place around a single suburban home. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, I highly recommend it.

9. Wolf Children

Directed and co-written by Mamoru Hosoda, Wolf Children is a hauntingly romantic fairytale. This 2012 Japanese animation film is an awe-inspiring experience, with a bittersweet atmosphere and enchanting imagery.

This epic cinematic accomplishment follows Hana, a woman who falls in love with a Wolf Man and gives birth to two kinds, who are half-human and half-wolf. However, her werewolf lover unexpectedly dies in an accident while hunting for food for the children, leaving Hana to raise this bizarre family entirely on her own. The stress of raising her feral children in a populated city, while keeping their identity a secret, results in a decision to emigrate to the countryside, where her children can live a healthy life.

Overall, Wolf Children is a beautiful, emotional, and surprisingly complex story that works as both a coming-of-age film and a study of the challenges faced by a single mother in an unforgiving modern world.

10. Grave of the Fireflies

Hollywood has theorized that heroes are required in the time of adversities. Grave of the Fireflies, however, apprises us about the failure of heroism and nobility in dolorous circumstances. In a way, it’s almost an anti-Hollywood movie. Written and directed by Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli, this feature is a 1988 Japanese anti-war film based on a semi-autobiographical short story of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka.

Set in the city of Kobe, Japan, Grave of the Fireflies tells the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, living in the declining days of the Second World War. When an American firebombing separates the two children from their parents, the two siblings must rely completely on one another while they struggle to fight for their survival.

Grave of the Fireflies is definitely one of the most profound anti-war statements ever brought on the big screen. If you are into profound movies like Spirited Away, this harrowing tale of lost innocence will definitely hook you.

Did I miss out on any good entries? Let me know in the comment section.

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      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        4 months ago

        These seem to be very interesting movies. Thank you for posting.

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