Spirited Away is a message to adults bottled in a children’s movie. Its themes are heavy, addressing the greed that replaces the innocence of childhood, the harshness of life, and of course love; still, the cute cartoon characters can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
The greed of adulthood is present in the very first scene of the spirit world. Despite Chihiro’s pleas to leave because she senses that her family is unwelcome to feast on the mysterious food, her parents dine until they get fat. The term “greedy pig” perfectly describes the parents, because they are turned into pigs because of their greed. The movie disguises a lesson on the consequences of greed through animation and a fantasy world.
The harshness of life is apparent during Chihiro’s stay at the spirit world. In a way, she is forced to grow up faster than typical children because she must prove her worth to Yubaba in order to get her parents back. The harshness can be seen in the dirty, laborious tasks Chihiro must take on that the others do not want to do. The harshness only proves Chihiro’s bravery and wit as she battles cartoon monsters and sorcerer spells.
Love is a common theme in most movie, but Chihiro’s love for Haku is more mature than other children movies. The end of the movie unravels the true love between girl and river god as she embarks on a journey to Yubaba’s twin in order to save Haku. She also proves that love conquers all through her careful decisions to save her parents from the spell placed upon them. The simple concept of love displayed in most children’s movies is much more complex in Spirited Away.
The multiple themes in Spirited Away are present different symbols throughout the movie, which create an interesting, yet complicated, children’s stories.