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Spirited Away

October 2nd,2019 By Toshio Suzuki

Based on a MangaActionAdventureDramaFantasyMysteryShounenConspiracy

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Introduce

Spirited Away (Japanese: 千と千尋の神隠し Hepburn: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, "Sen and Chihiro's Spiriting Away") is a 2001 Japanese animated coming-of-age fantasy film. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Tohokushinsha Film and Mitsubishi and distributed by Toho.[4] The film stars Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takeshi Naito, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Tsunehiko Kamijō, Takehiko Ono, and Bunta Sugawara. Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro Ogino (Hiiragi), a moody 10-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighbourhood, enters the world of Kami (spirits) of Japanese Shinto folklore.[5] After her parents are mutated into pigs by the witch Yubaba (Natsuki), Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba's bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents and return to the human world.

Miyazaki wrote the script after he decided the film would be based on the 10-year-old daughter of his friend, associate producer Seiji Okuda, who came to visit his house each summer.[6] At the time, Miyazaki was developing two personal projects, but they were rejected. With a budget of 19 million US dollars, production of Spirited Away began in 2000. Pixar director John Lasseter, who is a fan and friend of Miyazaki, convinced Walt Disney Pictures to buy the film's North American distribution rights, and served as the executive producer of its English-dubbed version.[7] Lasseter hired Kirk Wise as director and Donald W. Ernst as producer of the adaptation. Screenwriters Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt wrote the English-language dialogue to match the characters' original Japanese-language lip movements.

The film was originally released in Japan on 20 July 2001 by distributor Toho. It became the most successful film in Japanese history, grossing over $346 million worldwide. The film overtook Titanic (the top-grossing film worldwide at the time) in the Japanese box office to become the highest-grossing film in Japanese history with a total of ¥30.8 billion.[9] Spirited Away received universal acclaim and is frequently ranked among the greatest animated films ever made.[10][11][12] It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards,[13] making it the first (and so far only) hand-drawn and non-English-language animated film to win that award. It was the co-recipient of the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival (shared with Bloody Sunday) and is in the top 10 on the British Film Institute's list of "Top 50 films for children up to the age of 14".

In 2016, it was voted the fourth-best film of the 21st century as picked by 177 film critics from around the world, making it the highest-ranking animated film on the list.[15] It was also named the second "Best Film of the 21st Century So Far" in 2017 by the New York Times.

plot

Ten-year-old Chihiro Ogino and her parents are traveling to their new home when her father takes a shortcut, leading them to what appears to be an abandoned amusement park that Chihiro's father insists on exploring. They find a seemingly empty restaurant still stocked with food, which Chihiro's parents immediately begin to eat. While exploring further, Chihiro finds an exquisite bathhouse and meets a boy named Haku, who warns her to return across the riverbed before sunset. However, Chihiro discovers too late that her parents have metamorphosed into pigs, and she is unable to cross the now-flooded river.

Haku finds Chihiro and has her ask for a job from the bathhouse's boiler-man, Kamaji, a yōkai commanding the susuwatari. Kamaji refuses to hire her and asks worker Lin to send Chihiro to Yubaba, the witch who runs the bathhouse. Yubaba tries to frighten Chihiro away, but she persists, so Yubaba gives Chihiro a contract to work for her. Yubaba takes away her name and renames her Sen (千). While visiting her parents' pigpen, Haku gives Sen a goodbye card she had with her, and Sen realizes that she had already forgotten her real name. Haku warns her that Yubaba controls people by taking their names, and that if she forgets hers like he has forgotten his, she will not be able to leave the spirit world.

Sen faces discrimination from the other workers because she is still a human and not a spirit; only Haku and Lin show sympathy for her. While working, she invites a silent creature named No-Face inside, believing him to be a customer. A "stink spirit" arrives as Sen's first customer, and she discovers he is the spirit of a polluted river. In gratitude for cleaning him, he gives Sen a magic emetic dumpling. Meanwhile, No-Face imitates the gold left behind by the stink spirit and tempts a worker with gold, then swallows him. He demands food and begins tipping extensively. He swallows two more workers when they interfere with his conversation with Sen.

Sen sees paper Shikigami attacking a Japanese dragon and recognizes the dragon as Haku metamorphosed. When a grievously injured Haku crashes into Yubaba's penthouse, Sen follows him upstairs. A shikigami that stowed away on her back shapeshifts into Zeniba, Yubaba's twin sister. She mutates Yubaba's son, Boh, into a mouse, creates a decoy Boh, and mutates Yubaba's harpy into a tiny, flylike bird. Zeniba tells Sen that Haku has stolen a magic golden seal from her, and warns Sen that it carries a deadly curse. Haku attacks the shikigami, which eliminates Zeniba's hologram. He falls into the boiler room with Sen, Boh, and the harpy on his back, where Sen feeds him part of the dumpling she had intended to give her parents, causing him to vomit both the seal and a black slug, which Sen crushes with her foot.

With Haku unconscious, Sen resolves to return the seal and apologize to Zeniba. Sen confronts No-Face, who is now massive, and feeds him the rest of the dumpling. No-Face follows Sen out of the bathhouse, steadily regurgitating everything he has eaten. Sen, No-Face, Boh, and the harpy travel to see Zeniba with train tickets given to her by Kamaji. Yubaba orders that Sen's parents be slaughtered, but Haku reveals that Boh is missing and offers to retrieve him if Yubaba releases Sen and her parents. Yubaba agrees, but only if Sen can pass a final test.

Sen, No-Face, Boh, and the harpy meet with Zeniba, who reveals that Sen's love for Haku broke her curse and that Yubaba used the black slug to control Haku. Haku appears at Zeniba's home in his dragon form and flies Sen, Boh, and the harpy to the bathhouse. No-Face decides to stay behind and become Zeniba's spinner. In mid-flight, Sen recalls falling years ago into the Kohaku River and being washed safely ashore, correctly guessing Haku's real identity as the spirit of the Kohaku River. When they arrive at the bathhouse, Yubaba forces Sen to identify her parents from among a group of pigs in order to break their curse. After Sen answers correctly that none of the pigs are her parents, her contract combusts and she is given back her real name. Haku takes her to the now-dry riverbed and vows to meet her again. Chihiro crosses the riverbed to her restored parents, who do not remember anything after eating at the restaurant stall. They walk back to their car, which is now covered in dust and leaves. Before getting in, Chihiro is shown to still be wearing the hairband No-Face spun for her at Zeniba's home.

Themes

The themes of the film are heavily influenced by Japanese Shinto-Buddhist folklore. The central location of the film is a Japanese bathhouse where a great variety of Japanese folklore creatures, including kami, come to bathe. Miyazaki cites the solstice rituals when villagers call forth their local kami and invite them into their baths.

Chihiro also encounters kami of animals and plants. Miyazaki says of this: "In my grandparents' time, it was believed that kami existed everywhere – in trees, rivers, insects, wells, anything. My generation does not believe this, but I like the idea that we should all treasure everything because spirits might exist there, and we should treasure everything because there is a kind of life to everything."

The film has been compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as the stories have some elements in common such as being set in a fantasy world, the plots including a disturbance in logic and stability, and there being motifs such as food having metamorphic qualities; though developments and themes are not shared.[31][32] Among other stories compared to Spirited Away, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is seen to be more closely linked thematically.

The major themes of Spirited Away center on the protagonist Chihiro and her liminal journey through the realm of spirits. The archetypal entrance into another world demarcates Chihiro's status as one somewhere between child and adult. Chihiro also stands outside societal boundaries in the supernatural setting. The use of the word kamikakushi (literally "hidden by gods") within the Japanese title, and its associated folklore, reinforces this liminal passage: "Kamikakushi is a verdict of 'social death' in this world, and coming back to this world from Kamikakushi meant 'social resurrection.'"

Yubaba has many similarities to The Coachman from Pinocchio, in the sense that she mutates humans into pigs in a similar way that the boys of Pleasure Island were mutated into donkeys. Upon gaining employment at the bathhouse, Yubaba's seizure of Chihiro's true name symbolically kills the child,[34] who must then assume adulthood. She then undergoes a rite of passage according to the monomyth format; to recover continuity with her past, Chihiro must create a new identity.

Along with its function within the ostensible coming of age theme, Yubaba's act of taking Chihiro's name and replacing it with Sen (an alternate reading of "chi", the first character in Chihiro's name – lit. "one thousand"), is symbolic of capitalism's single-minded concern with value, reflecting the film's exploration of capitalism and its effect on traditional Japanese culture.

Yubaba is stylistically unique within the bathhouse, wearing a Western dress and living among European décor and furnishings, in contrast with the minimalist Japanese style of her employee's quarters, representing the Western capitalist influence over Japan in its Meiji period and beyond. The Meiji design of the abandoned theme park is the setting for Chihiro's parents' metamorphosis - the family arrives in an imported Audi car and the father wears a European-styled polo shirt, reassuring Chihiro that he has "credit cards and cash", before their morphing into literal consumerist pigs.

Reception

Spirited Away received universal critical acclaim. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 97% approval rating based on 185 reviews, with an average rating of 8.62/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Spirited Away is a dazzling, enchanting, and gorgeously drawn fairy tale that will leave viewers a little more curious and fascinated by the world around them."[68] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 96 out of 100 based on 41 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a full four stars, praising the film and Miyazaki's direction. Ebert also said that Spirited Away was one of "the year's best films."[70] Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times positively reviewed the film and praised the animation sequences. Mitchell also drew a favorable comparison to Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass and also said that his movies are about "moodiness as mood" and the characters "heightens the [film's] tension."[71] Derek Elley of Variety said that Spirited Away "can be enjoyed by sprigs and adults alike" and praised the animation and music.[3] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times praised the voice acting and said the film is the "product of a fierce and fearless imagination whose creations are unlike anything a person has seen before". Turan also praised Miyazaki's direction.[72] Orlando Sentinel's critic Jay Boyar also praised Miyazaki's direction and said the film is "the perfect choice for a child who has moved into a new home."

In 2010, Rotten Tomatoes ranked Spirited Away as the 13th-best animated film on the site,[74] and later in 2012 as the 17th.[75] In 2004, Cinefantastique listed the anime as one of the "10 Essential Animations".[76] In 2005, it was ranked as the 12th-best animated film of all time by IGN.[77] The film is also ranked No. 9 of the highest-rated movies of all time on Metacritic, being the highest rated traditionally animated film on the site. The film ranked number 10 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.

In his book Otaku, Hiroki Azuma observed: "Between 2001 and 2007, the otaku forms and markets quite rapidly won social recognition in Japan", and cites Miyazaki's win at the Academy Awards for Spirited Away among his examples.

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