Latimer watches… Spirited Away

I want my own Kohaku dragon... just like I wanted a Luck dragon... when will I get a dragon?!
I want my own Kohaku dragon… just like I wanted a Luck dragon… when will I get a dragon?!

Latimer: On Christmas Day, Spirited Away popped up on my television screen like the ghost of Christmas past. I paused in my chocolate-coma induced mindless channel hopping and smiled. It had been a long time since I saw Chihiro and Kohaku. Then I frowned remembering my fan-girl grudge against this movie.

It was the start of the movie and despite my grudge (which will become apparent), I decided this would be a nice movie to sit down and watch. On the first break, I went out to the kitchen to make some tea and about 30 minutes passed by – the Christmas Day time vortex appeared. It’s the weirdest day of the year where time speeds up; when even getting some tea manages to turn into twelve other things that zap all the time away.

I never got back to Spirited Away that day. But it popped up again recently, urging me to confront my grudge.

Jumping briefly into the ‘way-back machine’ of nostalgia, I remember when this movie came out (13 years ago this year). Spirited Away was the first anime I’d seen that had a proper Japanese feel to it; from the moment Chihiro and her family step into the spirit world town, you get immersed in the Japanese-ness of it all, the food, the mythology (radish spirit?! Really?! That’s cool…!)

giphy

 Spirited Away was also the first anime I saw subbed (it was an extra on the DVD). I was a fool and turned up my nose and stuck with the English dubbed version at that point though (damn fool Latimer!).

town

 I love the feel of Spirited Away, the view into Japanese culture and mythology.

Not sure what sort of spirit they are but they are kawaii ne?
Not sure what sort of spirit they are but they are kawaii ne?

The animation is wonderful too. There’s the wonderful, beauiful moment where Chihiro is crying, falling through the air with Kohaku, and her tears are breaking off the little mouse and bird.

crying

tears

The story between Kohaku and Chihiro is so sweet and lovely… and well, that’s where my ‘grudge’ comes in….I always have this moment of sighing sadly at the end, when Chihiro leaves Kohaku…. I am a fan-girl, so of course I would be frowning at this!

The ending is a bit ambiguous; you can read what you like into it. Hayao Miyazaki (the creator of Spirited Away) said that Chihiro has lost her memories after leaving the spirit world.

This time, I watched it I came to my own conclusion (after, what 10 years or so? ha). When Chihiro leaves Kohaku, she asks, ‘will we meet again?’ and he promises that they will. And then she’s gone. I block out having read once that there’s one way of looking at this; Kohaku is a spirit and so, Chihiro will meet him again when she dies and becomes a spirit…

Okay, that’s too sad, so this is the way I choose to look at it! Kohaku also says in the subbed version that, ‘I’ll go back to my world’ – which means that the spirit world might not be his world after all. He saved Chihiro when she fell into the river when she was a child, so to me, it means he’s going back to being a river god – and where are the rivers – in Chihiro’s world (if he saved her before in her own world, then that’s the world he belongs in).

Got my fangirl mojo back!!
Got my fangirl mojo back!!

 As to memory loss… hmm, well she still has her magical hair tie in the end (which holds ‘everyone’s feelings’) – so I’m not worried about that 🙂 Thinking of this as the ending makes this ending nicer to me after all these years; I think I’m letting go of my grudge at last!

Ah, ambiguous endings – are they a pain or a pleasure?

5 thoughts on “Latimer watches… Spirited Away

  1. I actually got to study this film as part of my degree (I did a module in film studies; we also watched X-Men, Independence Day and even part of Serenity!) I’d seen a few animes before but I agree that this one has much more of a Japanese flavour. It’s great!

    I love an ambiguous ending, though. And the whole being reunited when she dies thing? That works for me. So do the lost memories, because the hair tie suggests that even if she can’t remember her adventure it’s still with her somehow.

    Of course, I’m not a fangirl, so that may be why I like this idea 🙂

  2. I actually got to study this film as part of my degree (I did a module in film studies; we also watched X-Men, Independence Day and even part of Serenity!) I’d seen a few animes before but I agree that this one has much more of a Japanese flavour. It’s great!

    I love an ambiguous ending, though. And the whole being reunited when she dies thing? That works for me. So do the lost memories, because the hair tie suggests that even if she can’t remember her adventure it’s still with her somehow.

    Of course, I’m not a fangirl, so that may be why I like this idea 🙂

    1. Wow, that sounds like an interesting module James!! V.cool!!
      What was the conclusion of the Spirited Away study? Is she going to meet him again when she dies? I think it could go either way, there is something nice about an ambiguous ending though – it’s an open door I guess! 🙂
      (but yes, I’ve decided what I think happened haha, fangirling all the way!!)

  3. I can’t say I am well traveled in the anime world. But for a while they would have anime night once a month really late at night on a German TV channel. Really cool movies and often not dubbed – which is unusual for German TV. So, sometimes I would stay awake (until what? 4 AM?) and watch a movie or a part of it. I agree on what you said about getting a glimpse of the Japanese culture. I loved that part – and I can deal with ambiguous endings as they often are thought provoking and inspire my creativity.
    Then, of course, I am no expert for this genre.

    1. I agree definitely! Ambiguous endings really give you a chance to let your own imagination come up with an ending – it’s like working on a puzzle and seeing if you can put it together in a way that makes sense!
      Spirited Away is a really beautiful movie, I think one of the best anime movies. I saw that another of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, The Wind Rises, was nominated for an Oscar this year – it also looks very good (and with lots of Japanese culture in it)! I love that glimpse you can get into other cultures through their movies 🙂 (I wish we had a channel that did an anime night!! What I wouldn’t have done for such a channel pre-internet days!!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s