full title Spirited Away

director Hayao Miyazaki

leading actor/actresses Voiced by Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, and Suzanne Pleshette

supporting actor/actresses Other voices by David Ogden Stiers, Lauren Holly, John Ratzenberger, and Susan Egan

type of work Japanese anime

genre Adventure/Fantasy

language Dubbed in English. Considered an excellent translation by anime experts.

time and place produced 2001, Japan

awards Best Animated Feature Film, 75th Annual Academy Awards. Best Film, 2001, Japanese Academy Awards. Golden Bear (tied), 2002, Berlin International Film Festival. Many other lesser-known awards.

date of release U.S. release date Sept. 20, 2002

producer English version: John Lasseter

setting (time) Late 1990s

setting (place) A traditional Japanese bathhouse

protagonist Chihiro, also known as Sen, a spoiled ten-year-old girl

major conflict After Chihiro and her family accidentally wander into a spirit world and her parents turn into pigs, Chihiro struggles to stay focused on her goal of freeing her parents in the face of numerous otherworldly distractions involving greed and consumption.

rising action   Sen is tested by No-Face, who offers her gold to keep her in the bathhouse and distract her from her goal of freeing her parents and saving Haku.

climax  Sen gets on a train to go see Zeniba, who holds the key to helping Sen reclaim her identity as Chihiro, saving Haku’s life, ameliorating the loneliness of No Face, and determining the fate of Chihiro’s parents.

falling action  Chihiro and her parents find their car covered with dust. The parents think someone has been playing a joke on them. Chihiro shows she’s now resigned to her new life.

themes  The power of words and names; the blurred line between good and evil; the shock of entering adulthood and the world of work

motifs  Greed; food; environmentalism; rules

symbols  Water; flight; gold


 · Chihiro’s dad telling Chihiro and her mother not to worry that he’s driving dangerously because he has four wheel drive. Along the same lines, a few minutes later he says not to worry about eating the food because he has credit cards and cash. Both of these events foreshadow Chihiro being left to rely on her own character and devices.
 · Chihiro’s parents grunting as they begin eating, which foreshadows them turning into pigs.
 · The stink spirit/river spirit turning into a white dragon. This is a key foreshadowing of the true identity of Haku, who is himself a river spirit/white dragon.
 · Haku vomiting up the slug. This is a foreshadowing of the purging of No-Face, which leads No-Face to peace.