Joe Hisaishi: Spirited Away

It's the most profitable Japanese film of all time - but where does Joe Hisaishi's soundtrack to Spirited Away fit into the success?

When it was released in 2001, Studio Ghibli's (think of them as the Japanese version of Disney) Spirited Away quickly became the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time, thanks to its whimsical mix of incredibly imaginative animation and its frankly barmy storyline (involving, among other things, the main character's parents being turned into pigs). The soundtrack's composer, Joe Hisaishi, is a veteran of the Japanese progressive rock scene, but here he takes a rather more traditional and accessible route.

There are numerous highlights, like the gorgeous 'One Summer's Day' with its simple piano lines and delicate string accompaniment, or the foreboding atmosphere of 'The Sixth Shop' - but they're all held together by gentle piano lines from Hisaishi. His orchestrations are light and add colour, but the piano remains at the centre throughout the whole film.