Friday, 3 February 2017

World Cinema: Spirited Away

Spirited Away (2001) a Studio Ghibli film directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation/anime based on adventure and the coming of age of Chihiro, A ten year old girl.  Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki have created a many amount of films similar to Spirited Away such as Howls Moving Castle (2004) and The Secret World of Arrietty (2010). 

It is the most successful Japanese animation in history and is known to be among the best animated films of all time, coming at #4 on the list of the best films of the 21st century. At the 75th Academy Awards it took Academy Award for Best Animated Feature - the only film of its kind to do so at the time. At the time of its release, it had grossed over the Titanic at 30.4 Billion Yen.

Figure 1: Chihiro solemn about moving to her new home

The film follows Chihiro's family moving to their new home but accidentally end up in a magical world, Chihiro leaving her parents to themselves ventures into the Bath House where she meets Haku who tells her to cross back over the river before it too late. Chihiro did not make it back in time due the the flooded river and found her parents in the form of pigs. We follow Chihiro's adventure to escape from the spirit world and 'restore' her parents back to their real forms, in an attempt to save her parents from becoming food  Chihiro gains herself a job in the Bath House where she again finds Haku. As Chihiro develops through the film she realises that she has to save her parents from Yubaba (the boss of the bath house) and to stop the Bath House being destroyed by No Face, whom she allowed in and refused his offer of gold. The characters are without a doubt interesting, No Face - a faceless spirit who consumes those suffering with greed, Haku a young boy who has forgotten his name and who transforms into a dragon and Chihiro herself, a ten year-old who throughout the film despite her age in mature and confident and continues to grow throughout the length of the film.

Figure 2: No Face consuming the greedy Bath House workers

No Face provides the film with its theme of greed, showing how greed can be consuming and that it is not the way forward, Chihiro demonstrates this by refusing No Face's offer of gold - which throws him into his turmoil of consuming those who are consumed by gold and therefore by greed. Chihiro realises that to save the people and the Bath House she must cure No Face from its 'turmoil of consuming those who it deems 'greedy'. Greed fuels to story of Chihiros adventure to save her parents, the Bath House and to return to their journey to their new home, out of the spirit world.

Figure 3: Chihiro waved of by the Bath House workers
What makes this film of the Japanese culture is its entire art style, The film is hand drawn and in the style of classic anime and is a well known art style to the majority of the western world, whom can clearly pin point the style towards the Japanese art culture. The art style is delicate and light in my opinion but yet it is so bold in it colour palette, with its elegant designs right down to small markings within the building design. This whole image captures what anime is and what its art style really is.

Illustration List:

Title Image: 

Figure One:

Figure Two:

Figure Three:

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