8:00 PM, 17th February, 2005
This is a cartoon. It's about two young girls who have nice safe adventures with friendly magical forest creatures. The creatures are so cute that if they were available in pet shops, nobody would buy puppies. There's a chirpy, catchy theme song (in Japanese). Now I've told you this much, what are you thinking? That the story was probably written by Enid Blyton? That there's an even chance a troop of smurfs will pop out from behind one of the shrubs? Well, they don't. True, small children like this film: I know because the father of a five-year-old girl told me so. But this is one of those "children's" films which, however much children may like it, isn't really for them. Of all Miyazaki's earlier films it's the one most like Spirited Away. When the two girls lose their way in the forest we're introduced to a supernatural world so odd (without being surreal), so eerie (without being frightening), so unlike anything anyone would make up, that you can't help believing in it. Because it doesn't feel like ordinary fiction something tells you it must be folklore.
And besides, those creatures are just so damned cute.