“Spirited Away” Tops Annie Awards

Japanese anime had its day in the sun.

The animated Japanese fantasy epic Spirited Away took home the top honors at the Annie Awards Saturday, winning awards for best feature film, writing, music and direction.

Known in Japan as Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi, the film by writer/director Hayao Miyazaki focuses on a girl who becomes trapped in a world of nature spirits and must escape to rescue her parents from a spell that transformed them into pigs.

It has become Japan’s highest-grossing movie ever in 2001, earning approximately $234 million. Released in the U.S. by the Walt Disney Co. last September, the film has managed to take in roughly $5.5 million in domestic box office grosses.

Created 30 years ago, the Annie Awards are given out by the International Animated Film Society, which honors outstanding animation in television and film. After the Academy created a new Best Animated Film category last year, organizers moved the Annie Awards ceremony from November to February to help animated films’ Oscar chances, the Associated Press reports.

Other winners Saturday included DreamWorks’ Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, about a young horse fleeing human captors in the wilderness, which received awards for character design, effects animation, production design and storyboarding.