Spirited Away has premiered over a decade ago, has been on everyone’s top lists of Anime Movies to Watch Before You Die, and I wonder why I suddenly thought of watching it just now.
It’s all the levels of awesome I must say. Probably the reason why I was drawn to watching this movie was because I was losing my zest for life at the moment, all my numerous interests all down the drain, and I blame my period. I wasn’t able to sleep well last night and I was having headaches. I sneezed a lot and you know, just the general feeling of being dead inside. I wonder what it was but after watching this movie, I felt like the heavy energy that kept me down all day was uplifted.
The movie begins with a too bummed-out Chihiro in a car with her parents on the way to a new home. Her dad makes a wrong turn and drives all the way to what they thought was an abandoned theme park. They went gallivanting around looking for food and when they found a restaurant with all these foods up for display, and no people to serve them, the parents decided to help themselves. While her parents stuffed themselves, Chihiro walks around until she got on this bridge to an old bathhouse. This guy suddenly walks up to her and yells at her that she shouldn’t be there and that she must leave immediately. Scared, she scrammed to get her parents but finds out they have been turned to pigs, still eating hungrily off the messy table. This is a dream, she kept on telling herself as spirits started showing up. She kept on running straight to where they came from, but stopped when she saw that the dried river they passed before was now like an ocean, with the other side kilometers away. She slowly begins to fade, like a ghost, as she realized she was trapped in that island of spirits.
What I love about this movie most is its dozens of metaphors, which makes the movie a little more special. The characters in themselves are a representation of something and in this review I’m going to try and unlock the messages beneath the characters.
Chihiro Ogino is a ten year old kid, your typical anime girl: childish, easily frightened and very clumsy but once she gets trapped in the spirit world and has to work her way to save her parents, she becomes a responsible young adult. Chihiro is actually a mirror of a young innocent girl who has to work her ass up and be a little more mature for her age, to put it bluntly, because of her parents’ wrong decisions.
Haku is one of the spirits trapped in the bathhouse. He’s the henchman of Yubaba. He meets Chihiro and protects her from being consumed by the spirit world. He lost his identity after all the years of working in the bathhouse and is now helping Chihiro not to lose hers. He represents a broken person who still goes out his way to help others and prevent them from making the same mistakes.
No Face is a shy type of ghost who comes in the bathhouse and becomes a monster. I think this kind of character represents a simple person who happens to be loaded and then suddenly becomes consumed in pride, lust and all the sins you can think of when people start bowing down to him and attending to his every whim, like he’s a god or something. But deep inside he’s a lost soul searching for a purpose in life.
Yubaba is the owner of the bathhouse, an evil witch who is more of a pimp in real life. The big head shows she’s got the whole thing under control. She is evil in every way but has a soft spot for her only child Boh and takes a change of heart by the end of the movie. I guess she represents hope for every hopeless conceited individual out there. When you start caring for someone, you start caring less about yourself.
Boh is an overprotected baby, spoiled and naive. He is kept hidden by Yubaba in his giant play room, made him fear the outside world, until Chihiro woke him up and Yubaba’s sister transformed him to a rat. One thing we can learn from this little guy is that sometimes we have to feel like a rat, small and unimportant before we start realizing and living up to our potentials.
Sometimes it’s not physical stress when you get lost and reeled in to the mundane day to day challenges of work. Take a break once in a while, watch movies like this in order to keep your spirit pumped up with a sense of purpose. You’d end up crying but you’ll eventually feel the weight on your chest lifted. This movie inspired me a lot and I hope you’ll watch this too.