Growth and maturity in “Spirited Away”


In the spirit of Halloween, what could be better than a movie about spirits and magic? While this article may be released a few days after Halloween, it is hoped that the reader will give the writer the benefit of the doubt and read this article in the proper spirit. Now, on to the movie!

What word could better describe the film “Spirited Away” by famed director Hayao Miyazaki than “masterpiece”? While I have heard good things about other Studio Ghibli films, having never seen one myself, I must say I kept my expectations low. This movie blew all expectations out of the water.

Miyazaki is well known for his active role as director and animator, contributing to movies such as “Princess Mononoke,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind.” With such an impressive filmography, it is no surprise that “Spirited Away” would match in excellence, and “Spirited Away” is truly excellent.

The plot is rather simple: a young girl named Chihiro and her parents enter the spirit world by chance. Chihiro’s parents, due to their greed, are turned into pigs by the witch Yubaba and Chihiro must save them. I won’t spoil the movie, but as it is targeted toward children, it should be no surprise how it turns out.

At the heart of the film is a young girl who is immature, spoiled and self-centered, blossoming into someone who is kind and courageous. Noticing how Chihiro matured and dealt more confidently with issues matched my own lived experiences of becoming an adult, as I am sure is also relatable to the reader.

One thing I noticed is how Chihiro exemplified Aristotle’s theories regarding habituated virtues. Chihiro is initially rather scared, but after dealing with several sketchy situations, she is able to find the courage she needs to confront Yubaba. 

Underlying the plot was stunning animation. Every scene was rich with color and imagery, providing for a truly enjoyable viewing experience that complemented the plot superbly. Notable scenes were the train on the lake scenes and several of the bathhouse scenes. The beauty and attention to detail made these scenes stand apart.

If that is not all, the soundtrack is exceptional. I am currently listening to it as I write this article, and each song seems specially crafted to suit the mood of the movie. Scenes are given flair with each track and the fantastical and whimsical songs are perfectly suited to the movie.

This movie stands as a reminder that the spiritual world underlines and girds the physical world around us. Chihiro’s character arc is extremely relatable for people of all ages. As a piece of art, “Spirited Away” is unparalleled. I highly recommend this movie for any occasion, or perhaps for next year’s Halloween. As for me? I have no doubt I will soon be stepping into Miyazaki’s imagination once again. 


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