Spirited Away

Spirited Away illustrated a lot of differences between American animation and Japanese animation films. The most being the exaggerated body parts of the characters. The abnormally large baby and the large mole and nose on the mother are perfect examples. Also, I found the way they talked in this film to be interesting, the way the lady that helped out the little girl talked was almost an exaggerated mother mixed with the oddness of the Japanese language, or at least that was the way it was perceived to me. Also, Japanese animation puts a lot of emphasis on animals unlike that of America cinema but the most interesting attribute was the emphasis of sound. Diegetic sound was greatly exaggerated. This was most noticeable when the little girl would run across the bridge and you could hear every footstep. Even the eating noises were beyond loud and exaggerated, every bite was louder than the last and food ended up every where but in the characters mouths. Also Japanese culture attributed to things like the man having eight arms and all of the characters turning into pigs, that is a prime example of Asian metaphors and legends. I found it ironic that the baby was large, especially since he exhibits power over his mother who seemed to be the ruler of the kingdom. Even the coal pieces made such loud noises when they clasped together, noises that you would never realistically hear if you were in the room, just as the chomping of food was overwhelming. Even the wind made noise that you would not normally hear. I would say the largest difference is that Japanese animation pays a lot more attention to sound and setting than american animated films do.

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One thought on “Spirited Away

  1. In a way, I disagree with what you said about diegetic sound. I felt that that sound was not anywhere near as prominent as it is in American animation, particularly Pixar films. When you listen to sound in a movie like “Ratatouille” or “Up,” the foley artist is as important as the animator. Every sound from the smallest of breaths to the rustling of fur is recorded and can be clearly heard. With “Spirited Away,” so much of that sound detail is lost. It is definitely important, as you pointed out, but is much more subtle than other animation. And, I do not think this is due to any ignorance on Miyazaki’s part, either. Pixar animations strive to achieve a level of realism in all its actions and textures. Miyazaki’s world created in “Spirited Away” is the farthest thing from real, from the hand drawn animations, to the subtle noises. The brilliance of his foley work, is that all the noises are distinct and other-worldly. He does not add the more traditional, constant noises of a Pixar film. The sound of someone eating, as you pointed out, is ridiculous because it is such a foreign noise to us. That’s why I believe you think Miyazaki exaggerated his sound more than an American film. While both cultures artfully work their sound into the final product, the American animation puts its efforts towards making sounds less noticeable because of how natural the foley is.

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