Spirited Research Paper

Pages: 7 (3397 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 13  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Film

Much like with names, Miyasaki uses a recurrent theme throughout his films of stories of bildungsroman or "coming of age" where characters are in their formative years and experience something that changes them for life, it matures them and prepares them for what is to come in adulthood. (Satoshi 27) People often miss out on learning important lessons in life. Miyasaki creates these stories to help teach children the importance of things and morals such as hard work and identity. Doing things that are difficult, but help a person grow for the better is seen throughout "Spirited Away." The first instance is when Chihiro has to get a job working for Yubaba. At first she cries and bemoans working in such a place, but later comes to realize she has to work in order to free her parents and escape from the spirit world. A perfect example of hard work in the film is when Chihiro has to clean a giant bathtub for a disgusting, and dirty spirit. She was the only one assigned to the task and when the spirit submerged itself in the bath produced putrid and foul sludge. Even though the situation seemed horrendous and disturbing, Chihiro weathered it and was rewarded by the "polluted river spirit" with a magic emetic dumpling.

The dumpling along with the effects of the dumpling helped her deal with the other task she faced. Haku was stuck doing errands for Yubaba and ended up cursed by her twin sister for stealing a seal. The curse almost killed him, but because of Chihiro's love and hard work, he was saved. Chihiro went so much as to go to the twin sister, named Zeniba, to return the seal and set things right with Zeniba.

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The journey of Chihiro, often seen in coming of age stories is all too familiar with audiences. Children faced incredible odds to become strong and mature adults. Chihiro faced many obstacles in her pursuit of saving her parents. She faced near death, the possible death of her parents, and a cruel witch with fantastic powers. After she finished her journey and lost the memory of her experiences, she was able to go face the real world, the reality of her future with confidence and certainty.

Research Paper on Spirited Away Assignment

Since Miyasaki is Japanese and was born, raised, and lives in Japan, he has put a lot of the Japanese culture within the movie. The bathhouse for example is common in Japan. People go to bathhouses to relax and clean themselves. The clothing of the workers and spirits in the bathhouse are reminiscent of traditional Japanese clothing. Additionally the spirits in the film remark on the Japanese religion, Shinto.

Shinto is the main religion in Japan. (Tamura 62) The basis for Shintoism is that everything in nature has a spirit and therefore has a basis in animism. Two spirits in the movie are rivers. One is the polluted "stink" spirit river and Haku, the Kohaku River. Shinto religion follows that the spirits from nature are powerful and thus shape the natural world. Another aspect of Japanese culture included in the film is the use of traditional Japanese houses & tatami mats. In Japan, people used tatami mats in traditional homes. This straw matting is commonly used on the floor (Teasley 274) Characters in "Spirited Away" always took off their shoes before entering any house or building. In Japan people do this to show respect for the homeowner and to separate outside life from home life. A specific example in the film of characters taking off their shoes, happens when Chihiro gets led by Rin to Yubaba. She spontaneously removes her shoes and socks until she needs to go outside.

Sake, a staple drink in Japan, is used periodically in the film in its bathhouse scenes. In Japanese culture, sake a rice-wine plays a significant role in the Shinto religion. People drink sake to mark various life-stages. For example, during marriage, the husband and wife must drink sake. During festive occasions, sake is a popular drink of choice. In Spirited Away, when the river spirit named Kawa No Kami has all the filth removed from it, gold appears on the floor and Yubaba announces, elated, "Sake on the house tonight!" signifying celebration.

Intellectual Importance

Saudi culture and Japanese culture, although different has some similarities, especially when it comes to "Spirited Away." The Saudi culture emphasizes loyalty, importance of family, respect, and friendship. Chihiro valued her parents and saw the need to aid them demonstrating loyalty. She showed respect when she removed her shoes. She risked her life to help her friend Haku, proving her value of friendship. Many positive aspects of "Spirited Away" can be attributed to Saudi culture, just like Japanese culture. Even if the Saudi culture is different and Saudia Arabia, is a distant country from Japan, it still shares common beliefs and traditions that can be seen in any culture.

Because "Spirited Away" had universal aspects of love and friendship, many Saudi Arabians have become fans of the movie. Although there does not appear a large presence in terms of Saudi fans of "Spirited Away," internationally speaking, it has become a major hit with many people from many countries having watched the film. The film hasn't made much of an impact on Saudi fans as certain media has just recently been allowed into Saudi Arabia, but speaking from a personal perspective, it has moved me in such a way that has made this film not only memorable but a treasured classic.


One way I determined the impact of the film and anime and manga in general is by performing a survey where I asked five young people if they watched anime, know of Hayao Miyasaki, have watched "Spirited Away," if it relates to Saudi culture, and if the genre has left any lasting impact on their lives. Although most of the answers relayed they knew of anime, have watched anime, know of Hayao Miyasaki, and have watched "Spirited Away," they did not emphasize they were big fans. Nor did they express popularity in Saudi Arabia for the genre. Some attribute it to lack of availability of anime titles and manga. Unlike in America, where they have stores dedicated to anime clothing, movies, and merchandise, Saudi Arabia lacks these kinds of novelties.

The participants who love anime and are big fans of the genre expressed it left a lasting impact on them as they desired to learn the language, wear the clothes, and continue watching upcoming releases. Some have become otakus. "Strictly speaking, in Japanese, otaku is a pejorative term for an obsessive geek." (Cubbison 46) Although some have stated there are communities of anime lovers and fans, a lot of the communities are online or not a part of Saudi culture. Communities play a vital role in fandom. "What I think the various fan subcultures do is provide a space for community. They allow people of diverse background and experience to form bonds around a common interest." (Napier 47) Without a strong community, people sometimes do not remain interested. Furthermore, because anime involves certain aspects of Japanese culture that are frowned upon in Saudi culture, like drinking, and Shintoism, it has not truly reached them the way it has American fans.

One reason that may exist as to why there are not that many Saudi fans of the film is the use of Shintoism as its prevailing themes. The Saudi culture does not believe in spirits, dragons, witches, magic, nor have an affinity or use for the clothes and alcohol drank in the film. For instance, in Saudi culture, the main religion is Islam. Islamic people do not eat pork nor do they drink alcoholic beverages. The Sake, the fact that the parents turn into pigs, these go against Saudi culture, beliefs, and principles. Regardless, "Spirited Away" has made a positive impact in my life.

I was not the kind of person who was into animation, especially Japanese animation. That style of animation was foreign to me. But one day, when I began watching an anime with my friend, my mind changed and I became interested in the genre. I am still not a fan of Japanese animation, but it has left me with an open mind when it comes to different styles of animation. I also think anime is not only interesting but imaginative, as "Spirited Away" left me viewing the world from a different perspective. As Wright shares: "His work transforms and reinvigorates the tenets of Shinto, and these are juxtaposed with global culture -- inspiration is taken from American science fiction, Greek myths and British children's literature -- to create a hybrid "modern myth" that is accessible (in different ways) to post-industrialized audiences all over the world." (Wright 3-3)

Although "Spirited Away" has not reached many people in Saudi Arabia, it has still affected Saudi youths and many others on a global… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Spirited.  (2014, April 13).  Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/spirited/6445710

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"Spirited."  Essaytown.com.  April 13, 2014.  Accessed September 30, 2020.