SPIRITED AWAY: THE METAPHORICAL DETAILS BEHIND THE CLASSIC
The first detail that is repeated continuously throughout the movie is greed.
[The scene Chihiro's parents eat and get turned into pigs]
At the beginning of the movie, the scene where Chihiro's parents curiously entered the
spirit land and discovered restaurants full of delicious food. Unable to resist the attraction
of those delicious dishes, they ate a lot, no matter the origin of this meal. There ain't no
such thing as a free lunch, right. Witch Yubaba turned them into pigs, resulting in Chihiro
having to work in her bathroom to pay off the debt.
[The scene of No-Face enters the bathroom – gives gold – is served]
Next scene, No-Face becomes the "richest" guest in the bathroom. The filmmaker built
this character in a very special way, as his name – nobody. No-Face is said to be a dirty
spirit and not allowed in the streaming bathroom. No-Face lives off of human greed.
Greed, lust, liberty, and depravity. From a very kind character to having super magic in
his hand, he turns into a greedy, bloodthirsty man. All were fascinated by No-Face's
money, their greed delighted No-Face and lost his humanity more and more.
[The scene of No-Face eats bathroom staff – chases after Chihiro – transforms into a pure
soul and working as Zeniba's maid]
When No-Face had finished his food, he turned to eat some of the bathroom staff and
caused chaos for everyone. The only thing that makes No-Face is a pure, non-greedy soul
by the little Chihiro. After eating a piece of Chihiro's medicine cake given by the god of
the River, No-Face vomited everything he ate, including the three bathhouse staff he had
swallowed and furiously chased after Chihiro. Chihiro cheated No-Face to chase her out
to sea, away from the bathhouse, where he reverted to his true personality, transforming
into an endearing spirit. This detail represents a very meaningful message: Greed will be
inspired by a pure soul.
The second metaphorical detail is the good and the bad.
The land of spirits and monsters, it only manifests when the sun goes out, things of
darkness are different from what exists in Chihiro's world. Through the characters the
filmmaker built, we can see that kindness exists everywhere, even in the darkest, most
Here, the magician Haku, Mr. Kajima – the slave of the kettle, the maid Lin, the No-Face,
the witch Zeniba … are the representatives of goodness. If it weren't for Haku's help,
Chihiro could hardly exist in a world that she didn't believe was real – a monstrous world.
[Movie scene about Kamaji]
As for Mr. Kamaji, at first glance, Mr. Kamaji seems scary but his personality is not like
that. In fact, Mr. Kamaji was a gentle, kind person, and helped Chihiro a lot during her
time here. The image of a six-armed old man – Kamaji gives the impression of good
people regardless of their appearance and nature.
[Movie scene about Lin and Lin with Chihiro]
And Lin, a maid who is always bullied and often ridiculed by everyone, is the one on her
side and taught Chihiro how to live and work.
[Movie scene about No-Face giving a card to Chihiro]
Even No-Face helped her with the bath-cleaning job by handing her precious bath tokens
The No-Face is said to be greedy and dangerous, but when we are with Chihiro, we see
pure, slow, gentle and gentle spirits.
Miyazaki once said “You must see with eyes unclouded by hate. See the good in that which
is evil, and the evil in that which is good. Pledge yourself to neither side, but vow instead
to preserve the balance that exists between the two.”
There will come a time when children grow up and meet something weird, difficult to
understand, but slowly they will understand. Just let children know how to recognize
good people, working, they will become self-confident and will shine no matter where
they are forced to live. That is what the author wants to send messages to the children
through his live video footage.
Besides the meaningful messages about life, Miyazaki also builds many details and
scenes to reflect the reality of society.
[The scene of the river spirit in the bathhouse area]
The first is the details that show the problem of environmental pollution. He is pictured as
a famous, heavily polluted, and smelly river spirit. The pollution was so horrible that no
employee wanted to serve him when they went to Yubaba's bathhouse. It could even
make a bowl of rice spoil instantly when it was a few meters away that Lin brought
[The scene of helping people pull the bicycle out of the river spirit and the river spirit
The contaminated god made his body full of mud, deformed, and hard to walk. It seems
that man-made the river spirit ugly by his unconscious way of littering. He is also seen as
an "unclean" spirit by Yubaba until the help of Chihiro pulls out a bicycle from his body.
Besides environmental pollution, in Spirited Away, Miyazaki also mentioned that
the hot problems of international concern are children's rights.
[The scene where Yubaba threatens Chihiro and Chihiro to do heavy work]
Miyazaki wants to talk about the exploitation of children's labor. The characters represent
those exploiting the labor of children . That is Yubaba – the greedy witch who rules the
land of the soul. She makes Chihiro work as her employees and sends her incredible jobs.
This is the criticism the filmmaker wants to reflect.
If in real life, they bind the children to work for themselves with whips and threats, in his
animation, Yubaba also threatened to turn her into a pig or coal and take her name to bind
Chihiro. like people do.
To a kind-hearted, environment-conscious, and child-loving person like author Miyazaki,
he is strongly against the exploitation of child labor. That's why he included it in his
movie instead of words he wanted to say. And he desires children to have their full rights,
to learn, to play, and enjoy social welfare.
In the film's flow, author Miyazaki has also sent us many more messages about the
education of children's characters.
[The scene Yubaba comment Chihiro and Chihiro cries after visiting her parents]
Chihiro was said by Yubaba to be weak, lazy, and could only cry and do nothing, a
useless person she didn't want to accept. But because she wanted to save her parents and
get out of here, she had to face many things that she had never seen before. She had to
clean the bathtub with a lot of trash, had to scrub the dirty "safe" tub … She was so pitiful
that she cried hiccup beside Lin and Haku when she visited her parents. Her strong desire
to save her parents motivated her to work and do even better.
[The scene Haku helps Chihiro and Chihiro finds Zeniba to rescue Haku]
Appearing in the first scenes of the movie, Chihiro is just a shy girl who always needs
Haku's help, from Haku helping to hide Chihiro to making rice balls for her, everything
thanks to Haku. But when Haku was in trouble, Chihiro found Yubaba's sister to rescue
Haku, even though she did not know the danger would happen. Because she knows only
she can solve her problems, she can't just wait for someone to help her forever! We must
know to do the good on our own, the things that we consider important to us and not to
expect too much on the help of others.
[The scene Boh]
A character built by the author to emphasize that message is Boh – the son of the witch
Yubaba. Because his mother is so pampered, the boy is bland, selfish, and reliant.
Although Boh is "gianter" than his mother, he is unable to stand up and just crawls
around in his room. Boh is transformed into a mouse by Zeniba, Yubaba's twin sister.
Going through an exciting trip with Chihiro to Zeniba's house, the boy can stand on his
own feet and cares more for others.
It was a message to parents as well as children about the independent way of life that
Miyazaki wanted to say. Les Brown also said: "Accept responsibility for your life. Know
that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else."
Each image, every word appearing in the movie has a great metaphor and connotation.
Not only a cartoon film that won many major awards and the most popular of the 21st
century, Spirited Away also has timeless values, I firmly believe that the value of this
animation is eternal and nothing has been able to pass it yet.
Spirited Away is a movie that anyone in life must watch once. The film is excellent not
only for its quality image but also human values that the author wants to convey to
viewers, especially children – who will change the future of the world in the future.