Chihiro's Journey as a Hero in the Movie ‘Spirited Away’
The movie ‘Spirited Away’ is about the adventure of a young girl (Chihiro) trying to rescue her parents. Chihiro is reluctantly moving to a new town with her family. On their ride they stumble upon an old abandoned theme park and decide to stretch their legs and explore it. When nightfall hits, a discovery is made. This theme park turns out to be a place that is a portal between the living world and the dead. Chihiro’s parents were turned to pigs due to their greed and she has to save them and find her way home. This movie has many symbols that show greed, it is a large theme throughout the movie though it is subtle. I chose this movie because it’s always been an all-time favorite. I thought putting it into this project would give me the opportunity to further analyze it and find the deeper meaning. The most interesting thing about this movie is the animation style, it is absolutely stunning. Another interesting thing would have to be the character no-face, he is a character with only one simple facial expression, yet he shows so many emotions and has such an interesting personality. Also, Chihiro’s character is only ten, the things she goes through in this movie are horrifying, and her courage is powerful.
The first prominent stage in this movie is the call to action. The call to action is defined by something or someone that takes the character from their normal life, and causes them to start their journey.
After Chihiro and her family find the theme park (which made Chihiro feel uneasy), they stumble upon the only stand that seems to be open, it smells of amazing food. Upon closer inspection there is a wonderful buffet in front of them. Chihiro’s parents decide to eat, even though there is no one there to serve them, and say they have money and credit cards, it shouldn’t be a big deal. They are stuffing their faces with this amazing food and seem to be filled with greed and Chihiro gets bored. Chihiro wanders off to explore more. As it gets darker, she finds her way back to her mother and father who seem to have become large pigs. They’re still greedily stuffing their faces, Chihiro runs away in fear. As the sun begins to set and she runs through the theme park stalls, she sees shadow spirits begin to appear on the roads, opening up the stalls and wandering the streets. She gets back to the bridge they came in on to find it was gone. Instead, a lake with a dock appeared and a boat carrying more shadow creatures and odd entities docks itself. She hides beside a building crying and scared, then a boy appeared. His name is Haku, he gives her a dumpling, and says she has to eat it to remain in their world, and then says he will explain everything soon, and carries her off.
Chihiro was ‘called into action’ by many things in this scene. One being her family turned into pigs, another being her way out of the amusement park having disappeared, and lastly Haku giving her the dumpling and whisking her off. Chihiro was scared and didn’t choose her journey, but had to go on it, to get her parents back and get home.
The meeting with the goddess describes another part in Chihiro’s journey. The meeting with the goddess is when the hero is greeted by a female who provides some type of protection, wisdom, or help in the story.
Chihiro was whisked away by Haku and brought to the wash house (the place the spirits from the living world come to indulge), where she had to make a deal to work with Yubaba (the greedy owner) to have a job and work so she can stay in this world. She does this in order to find a way to her parents. To make her deal Yubaba had to take her name (this means she is completely stuck in the spirit world unless she can remember her name). Haku told her this name earlier as she was starting to forget it. After making her deal Chihiro is introduced to Lin. Lin works at the wash house as well. Lin guides Chihiro around and helps her with her work and provides advice and comfort for Chihiro. Without meeting Lin there are many time Chihiro may have failed her work and have been punished, there are also times later in the movie where she covers for Chihiro. She also helps her leave the wash house with no face to find Yubaba’s twin sister and help Haku live in order to further her journey to find her parents. Without her she may not have saved Haku or have gotten home.
The meeting with the goddess stage is illustrated well because Lin poses as Chihiro’s goddess. Lin gives Chihiro comfort and protection from Yubaba and some of the spirits during her journey. She is like a mother figure to her in this time of need.
Reconciliation is the stage where the hero is almost done with their journey. They are heading towards the end, or their home. In some situations, the hero has to face their demons or a fear from before.
Earlier in the movie Chihiro confronts Yubaba about wanting her name back, Chihiro’s reconciliation is completing Yubaba’s tasks to regain it. This task is her final thing to do in order to heading home. Her task is to pick her parents (who are still pigs) from a group of pigs in a pen. If she picks right, she will be allowed her name back and be released, otherwise she has to stay and work. Chihiro is faced with the fear of being stuck here all over again, like many times earlier when she was sacred. She chooses right and this allows her to be set free. She then finds her parents waiting for her at the bridge where they entered, not remembering a thing, though she does.
Chihiro is faced with a challenge earlier presented in this movie. This challenge determines if she gets home or not. Due to her making a correct choice, she is allowed home, and safe.
Chihiro’s story fits almost tight and clean into the stages of a hero, as well as the basis for the making of a hero story. One thing that seems to be a bit different is the lack of a single clear message like most hero stories. Chihiro is the hero of her mother and father, her journey was to rescue her family. Though there are many underlying messages in this story, such as greed and what it can do to you. The harm of forgetting something very important. And the importance of a strong bond. There isn’t a clean-cut way to interpret this story, it can be seen many ways to many different people, it may not even have a deeper message to some. To some it may just be a tale of a girl in an odd spirit world. To me I gather that Chihiro’s fear of losing her parents, and her fear of not being able to make it home are what fuel her. And even though she’s only ten, she’s courageous and doesn’t let anyone stand in her way, and makes her way home in the end. I find that something to take into mind and learn from.
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