Spirited Away

There is no better film to introduce oneself into Japanese anime than Hayao Miyazakis’ Spirited Away. The first time I saw this film, I instantly noticed the similarities between it and Alice in Wonderland. That means that the film is filled with themes of being on your own. This film is often overlooked in terms of its thematic brilliance, because of its stunning visuals, but the motifs and symbols in this film are really what make it great. One thing that I noticed this time I saw the film was how Chihiro is wearing the headband that Zeniba made for her when she walks off with her parents at the end. This shows how that even though her parents have no recollection of it, Chihiro went on an incredible adventure. Going back to the “being on your own” theme, when Chihiro first enters this new strange world, she is utterly on her own. Her parents are turned to pigs, and she is still able to rise above this and eventually save her parents and escape. I think Spirited Away is really a tale of resilience and adventure in its purest form.

Another difference I noticed from the first time I had seen this film was the stunning animation. I remember it being fine, but considering the film is hand-drawn animation, the image of the film is flawless. The motion is always in sync, and the film just looks better than most other animation I have seen.

All in all, Spirited Away is a tale of pure adventure and fun. It will blow you off your feet and make you feel like a kid again with its themes of self-reliance, resilience, and confidence. These themes are easy for viewers to identify with, and maybe that’s why everyone seems to love Spirited Away, oh and don’t forget the stunning animation.


5 thoughts on “Spirited Away

  1. I had never seen Spirited Away, or any Japanese anime before this viewing for that matter. I would have to concur with your statement as this film being the perfect introduction. It certainly worked to stimulate my interest in Japanese anime. I probably would have not paired this film with Alice in Wonderland. However I do see where you are coming because the overall take away is similar in the sense that they both play off the idea of being on your own and transitioning into adulthood. I liked the use of the purple hair tie signifying her transition. It was interesting how in the end of the film when we see Chihiro walking away with her parents, the hair tie is made noticeable as it glistens. This functions to indicate that the experiences and lessons she has learned through her adventure will not be forgotten and stay with her for the remained of her life.
    The hand drawn animation is amazing and I think had I not taken a film class, I would not have as much appreciation for the work as I do now. This film could definitely be viewed by a large range of audiences and appeal to them all because it has superficial as well as deep messages.

  2. I think the scene in which you see Chihiro’s ponytail holder sparkle in the sunlight after they return to the human world ties everything together and prevents the ending from ruining the movie; by that I mean that in many other movies in which the main character goes on an adventure and then comes back to reality, the ending often involves the main character waking up from a dream or a coma or something similar. The fact that chihiro’s ponytail holder still exists prevents the ending of Spirited Away from devaluing the entirety of the film up until that point. Thankfully the movie does not suggest that chihiro’s adventure was just a day dream because that would really take the magic out of the film and make it a colossal disappointment.

  3. Right of the bat I agree this is such a good animation film. I’ve never really been into animation, only as a kid I would watch Dragon Ball Z and other cartoons but as I grew older my interest in it faded. After watching Spirited Away I realized that animation’s limitless creativity extend past that of a child’s mind and really opens the doors to a whole new world. I like how you compared this movie to Alice in Wonderland and the theme of being on your own. I can definitely see now how both films relate to this sense of not having anyone to count on. However, throughout the film Chihiro gains the respect and love from various characters that ultimately helps her find her way back to the real world. I also noticed the hair tie at the end symbolizing and proving that she went on this elaborate adventure. This movie definitely does make you feel like a kid again with subtle parts that really appeal to an older crowd.

  4. I never saw the connection between this film and Alice in Wonderland but that is a brilliant observation. I also do not think you can say enough on how flawless the animation is. The characters are so graceful in their movements and even the sound blends perfectly. One thing that is definitely true for animation films though is the huge emphasis on sound. Sounds are made clear that would not normally be heard such as the parents chomping on their food or the clicking of the little girls shoes when she runs on the bridge. I do not really understand why such in detail sound is added to animated films, possibly to make up for the fact that the actions and people cannot be perfectly drawn but either way, sound plays a vital role. This was an exceptional film and was very enjoyable to watch and very possibly blew alice in wonderland out of the water.

  5. Alice in Wonderland you say? What an astute analysis. But while Alice’s characters were much more sinister and inane for the sake of being so, I believe Spirited Away’s characters had stronger and impactful personality. And while Alice was merely wandering and gotten lost, Chihiro is forcibly and unsettingly placed into an uncomfortable situation where she is more or less trapped through the bindings of sorcery and employment.

    And the thought that the child Chihiro will be the only one to recollect these times really rings true to a child, whose memories and moments are created by the actions they take and how their imagination can extend. It really makes an adult long for those times.

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