In the spirit of full disclosure, I did not grow up a ravenous anime connoisseur, as so many of my fellow animation geeks. I enjoyed some shows that were anime without really noticing that they were (like Rainbow Brite and TMNT), but I didn’t watch much Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh!, or Dragon Ball Z (much to my husband’s chagrin.) I did see Spirited Away the year it won the Academy Award and I, to be perfectly honest, did not get it. So much more fantastical and bizarre than what I was used to, I wrote it off as “weird.” Yet, I always knew there was something great I was missing–whether because the whole world was raving about it or from some inherent awesome-story-detector deep inside me, I’m not sure. In any case, it is now one of my favorite animated films, and Chihiro is one of the most interesting, admirable characters ever depicted–on-screen or in print.