Spirited Away is a Japanese fantasy animation film released in 2001. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazki, it was originally a sort of side project that Miyazki worked on whilst his personal projects were busy being rejected by all of the studios he submitted them to. He decided to create a character based on his good friend's daughter; the animated protagonist, Chiriro Ogino, is a sulky ten year old who is not at all happy at the prospect of moving from the neighborhood she loves to an entirely new one where she knows absolutely nobody; on the way to their new home Chihiro and her family enter a world of Japanese Shinto Buddhist folklore, known as Kami. Her parents are turned into animated pigs by the Shinto witch Yubaba; for the rest of the film Chihiro seeks a solution to the problem and tries to find a way to free her parents from this curse, and enable them all to escape the fantasy realm and go back to the human one.
The film had an initial budget of nineteen million dollars; there was an immediate buzz around it, so much so that Pixar director John Lasseter, whose films to date have grossed over nineteen billion dollars, was asked by Walt Disney Pictures to make an American translation for the release of the film in North America. Lasseter was already a huge fan of Miyazki and jumped at the chance. The Lasseter golden touch produced box office magic once again and the film became the highest grossing film in Japanese history, and overtook Titanic at the Japanese box office to become the most successful film of all time in its home country.
The film received worldwide and universal acclaim; it was awarded the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and in 2002 won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.