Monday, June 6, 2016

962. Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi

Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
Spirited Away
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

It is currently quite difficult to write, as I have an adorable cat lying on my chest.  I don't have the heart to move her, so I suppose I will try to write this post on my laptop by depending on my typing skills, as I can't really see through the black fur.  I apologize if parts of this entry are unreadable; just know that I sacrificed quality for cuteness, and I don't regret it.

Speaking of cuteness, let's talk about Spirited Away.  Ten year old Chihiro is upset that her family is moving to the suburbs.  On the way to their new home, her parents take a wrong turn and end up in the spirit world.  Her parents eat the food at an abandoned restaurant stall, which transforms them into pigs.  Chihiro meets a boy, Haku, who tells her to ask for a job at the bathhouse.  Is anyone else suspicious?

I sensed something dark about the "bathhouse" but I thought I might just be being paranoid. However,  I did some research and apparently there are hints about prostitution all over the place.  For example, the name of the witch who runs the bathhouse is "Yubaba" which is the word for "madam" in Japanese.  Chihiro is also forced to change her name, which is common in brothels.  So perhaps Chihiro was really kidnapped and sold into prostitution and merely imagined the spirit world as some sort of coping mechanism.  And people think animation is just for children.

Anyway, this is a very beautifully done film.  I thought Princess Mononoke was a bit too "video game-y" to be enjoyed by a large audience, but I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this.  At the very least, the Sootballs are delightful enough to make this film worth your while.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

First anime film to be nominated for (and win) an Academy Award.


  1. I am not sure that the prostitution theory is actually true. I haven't found any original source from Miyazaki or Gibli stating so. Instead, there is a lot of references of them talking about the movie as a metafor of Japan's economic decline and the impact of capitalism in Japanese traditional society. Obviously, this explanation is more boring and that's probably why it has drawn less attention.

    Anyway, I think all this is reading too much. This is just a nice and imaginative coming-of-age adventure. That's how I watched it at the time and that how most people look at it. Let's keep that way.

    1. I didn't actually think it was the filmmaker's intention, just a cool fan theory. But yes, it definitely makes the whole thing more depressing.