Welcome to Imagine That on Wednesdays! Here’s a random fact about me: I love fantasy anime. The breadth of imagination the writers and animators have inspires me. Sometimes the images are breathtaking, sometimes they’re crazy weird, but that’s what makes watching it such an adventure.
Here’s one of those masterpieces by acclaimed filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki: Spirited Away.
Ten-year-old Chihiro is sullen when her parents uproot her from her home and move to a new neighborhood. On the way, they stumble into the spirit world where her parents are transformed into pigs. To find a way to save them, Chihiro takes a job at the bathhouse, run by the witch Yubaba. Yubaba controls people by stealing their names. Chihiro becomes Sen and must fight to remember who she is and why she’s in the spirit world. She’ll discover courage she never knew she had as she faces a stink spirit, a monster who devours people, a curse, and a dragon who knew her as a young child, though she can’t remember how.
Chihiro starts out as a pouting, obnoxious whiner. However, throughout her adventure, she will learn strength and determination, not to mention the discipline of hard work. She’ll learn to think of others before herself and face her fears on behalf of those she loves.
Haku is the boy (also a dragon) who rescues Chihiro when she first enters the spirit world. He continues to help her by sending her to people he trusts. Haku has his own agenda, and though he works for Yubaba, he’s fighting to remember his name and be free of her. He thinks Chihiro holds the key to his true identity, though neither can recall how or where.
Yubaba runs the bathhouse and controls all her employees by stealing their names. She’s obsessed with profit and running a business, so much so that she fails to notice when her baby boy is replaced with a dummy.
Boh is a selfish, fussy, screaming child who’s never left the safety of his padded playpen. Yubaba’s twin sister transforms Boh into a mouse as punishment for Yubaba ordering Haku to steal her gold seal. Like Chihiro, this swaddling baby boy undergoes his own journey from selfish brat to wiser toddler.
Zeniba is Yubaba’s twin sister who lives out in the boonies. When Chihiro makes her way there to return the gold seal and plead for Haku’s life, Zeniba turns out to be quite the grandmotherly figure. All the curses she cast were to teach lessons.
There are some other interesting characters. Karmaji is a six-armed man who works in the boiler room with the soot mites. No Face takes a liking to Chihiro, but accidentally loses control and starts eating all the employees at the bathhouse.
Spirited Away is a beautiful coming of age story wrapped in wonder and splendor.
So tell me, have you seen Spirited Away? Are you going to go rent it? Do you like the style of anime and the fantastical interpretations? Or is it too weird for you? I love hearing from you!