I changed into re-studying that essay as I became looking the Blu-ray of “Spirited Away” 3 times (Japanese, English dub and back to Japanese) lower back-to-returned-to-back.

Suddenly, I changed into struck with the aid of the visual cues Hayao Miyazaki presents within the beginning of the movie that installation the man or woman of Chihiro before she turns into Sen. I called it my A-ha moment.

Chihiro has been characterized as whiny, however I suppose in case you understand her situation and assessment her intuitiveness with her parents’ obliviousness, she seems less so. In the actual global before she becomes Sen, there’s no question she is a piece sullen. Not not like Riley in Pixar’s “Inside Out,” she’s sad with being forced to transport far from her buddies. Her buddies have given her a nice bouquet. If there are 5 ranges of loss and grief (denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, despair and attractiveness), then Chihiro is on the stop of denial, and her remark approximately how unlucky it is to get her first bouquet as a farewell present shows she is entering anger.

When her father, Akio, takes the agricultural avenue that leads them to what looks like an antique unused entertainment park, Chihiro picks up cues that her parents do now not. She’s and a bit apprehensive through the moss-included stone statues. Something about them makes her aggravating. In this recognize, she isn’t always not like Lucy Pevensie from “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Narnia is closed off from kids once they attain a positive age within the actual global (till loss of life returns Lucy, Edmund, Peter, Digory and Polly). Lucy is the maximum intuitive of the four Pevensies despite the fact that she too has a moment of envy that alerts she won’t be capable of go back. Chihiro at ten remains more child than grownup and therefore more intuitive than her mother and father.

If we recall that Chihiro senses something is wrong, then her pleading along with her mother and father now not to go into the tunnel appear less whiny. She turns into Cassandra, a prophet whose warnings go unheeded. Out on the alternative side, there may be a grass meadow and more stone statues. Chihiro’s tension over the statues is not the final bit of foreshadowing that Miyazaki affords visually.

In the following scenes, Miyazaki exploits the visual nature of the Japanese language. Japanese isn’t like English. Instead of an alphabet, it makes use of two syllabary structures and Chinese characters. The syllabary systems, hiragana and katakana, originated from Chinese characters, however are used to represent syllables. Hiragana is used for submit-positionals and elements of words not absolutely expressed with the aid of Chinese characters (including inflections for verbs and adjectives). Katakana is used for overseas words and onomatopoeia. Chinese characters often symbolize concrete things. Japanese poetry is filled with wordplay and the subsequent scenes are filled with visual cues and words which can have double meanings.


On the first building we see an incomplete word. Alone the man or woman 正 could be read “sho” or “sei” and method proper, righteous, justice and real, however 正 additionally suggests 正しい, that means accurate, proper, honest and sincere. There’s greater signs and symptoms on the shops within the principal avenue. At first casual look as we go by means of, it does seem like they are all a part of advertising for eating places, but on nearer examination, that proves no longer to be real.

When we get to the principle street we see the characters 市場 for marketplace (ichiba) and the phrase 自由 (jiyuu) for freedom. Then there are some disquieting Chinese characters. The mother says that every one the places are restaurants. When you spot 天 float via you would possibly assume 天ぷら (for tempura), however without a doubt the characters are: 天祖 (tensoo) for the ancestral goddess of the solar, Amaterasu. In one body we see handiest 天狗 (tengu), with “ten” above and “gu” underneath. The character 狗 method dog, however may be used for dog meat (狗肉)which is not usually eaten in Japan (and could propose the homophone 苦肉 or “kuniku,” which actually manner bitter meat that means a countermeasure that calls for private sacrifice. The individual normally used for dog is 犬. Tengu, but, or heavenly dog, a legendary creature or supernatural being (yookai) that can be both harbingers of battle or shielding spirits of the mountains and forests.

Floating at the corner of 1 constructing is 骨 this means that bone and it may be a restaurant term as in the creamy broth: 豚骨 (tonkotsu) that’s actually pig bone. Yet bone or “hone” is used in idiomatic terms including hone-nashi meaning to lack moral spine.

Some of the Chinese characters are just a little off, sufficient to make you believe you studied. Most glaringly is the one syllabary and one Chinese person which are written backwards whilst we look above at the arch. The characters are 飢と食と会 which seem to substitute for 飢える (ueru, to starve), 食べる(taberu, to consume) and 会う(au, to meet). The と signifies “and.” It have to study devour ( 食べる), drink (飲む) and meet (会う) or something like that, but the final symbols are backwards on both facet. Looking at those, perhaps Chihiro senses something is incorrect.

Further, proper before the father Akio turns down a small alleyway, he’s framed with the aid of the characters for heaven at the left aspect of the display and at the proper facet for satan. Soon after, what he sees is, specifically in Japan, a supernaturally huge buffet. While he assures Chihiro that he can pay for the banquet and we consider he did have that foreign vehicle, a Japanese man or woman might be speedy calculating in their minds the exorbitant price.


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