Studio Ghibli Facts - Fact 71

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Fact 71:

The major themes of Spirited Away center on the protagonist Chihiro and her liminal journey through the realm of spirits, wherein Chihiro becomes separated from everything she has known. Chihiro’s experience in the alternate world, which may be compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, represents her passage from childhood to adulthood. The archetypal entrance into another world demarcates Chihiro’s status as one somewhere between child and adult. Chihiro also stands outside societal boundaries in the supernatural setting. The use of the word kamikakushi (literally “hidden by gods”) within the Japanese title, and its associated folklore, reinforces this liminal passage: “Kamikakushi is a verdict of ‘social death’ in this world, and coming back to this world from Kamikakushi meant ‘social resurrection.’” Yubaba has many similarities to The Coachman from Pinocchio, in the sense that she transforms humans into pigs in a similar way that the boys of Pleasure Island were transformed into donkeys. Upon gaining employment at the bathhouse, Yubaba’s seizure of Chihiro’s true name symbolically kills the child, who must then assume adulthood. She then undergoes a rites-of-passage according to the monomyth format; to recover continuity with her past, Chihiro must create a new identity.

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