I love this film. It's not just that I can watch it over and over again and find ever deeper symbolic meaning and a cultural richness that is simply breathtaking. It's also a very affecting story of growth and redemption that resonates with the most noble of sentiments. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
Considering that it's an animation, on the surface not far removed from the infinitely more superrficial products of the Disney company (particularly the more recent offerings), the breathtaking depth evoked here is quite extraordinary. Part of the attraction is due to the strangeness of the concepts, deeply indebted as they are to Japanese religious symbolism, but director Hayao Miyazaki casts a far wider net than that, evoking imagery of the American deep South and making pointed commentary on the ubiquity of industrial pollution and rampant materialism.
The art work is simply breathtaking, with every scene a masterpiece of detail and balance. The colors are vibrant and beautiful, while the human characters are made far more believable than the plastic creations of much American animation, even as they use much the same techniques and have similar appearances.
All in all, a masterpiece.