Born in Tokyo in 1941, Miyazaki graduated from Gakushuin University
in 1963 with degrees in political science and economics, and
had an interest in children’s literature. Miyazaki’s interest
in animation developed after he saw Taiji Yabushita’s White
Snake Enchantress in 1959.
Combining superb draftsmanship with his academic credentials,
Miyazaki joined Toei Animation Company and launched his career
in making animation films, according to his biography. Miyazaki
has proven to be a genius animator, with his works include Nausicaa
of the Valley of the Wind, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Red
Pig, and My Neighbor Totoro.
Miyazaki’s films have a softer touch than other Japanese animator,
and often focus, as does Spirited Away, on the adventures of
teenage girls. Like most Miyazaki films, Spirited Away also
contains elements of science fiction and fantasy, and often
reveals humanistic, ecological themes that reject the darker
aspects of human nature.
“The world in this movie is the reflection of the reality of
the modern world, just more obscure,” said Miyazaki, who explained
that the wounded river spirit in the movie symbolized serious
pollution problems in the real world. “I think spirits of Japanese
rivers are living sorrowfully and sadly, just like the one in
the movie,” Miyazaki added.
Combining fascinating ideas with Japanese cultural style, the
story begins with a family that is moving to a new place to
start a new life. Like other children, the 10-year-old daughter,
Chihiro, does not like the change. She misses her old school
The family gets lost on the way to their new home and discovers
a hillside tunnel. Chihiro and her parents venture through the
tunnel and find an abandoned theme park. When her parents undergo
a mysterious transformation, Chihiro must fend for herself in
a bathhouse as she encounters strange spirits and a sorceress
who seek to prevent her from going back to the human world.
Chihiro must overcome all the difficulties in order to rescue
her parents and return to the human world.
The film comes to American audiences in a newly dubbed English
language version. This is a great movie, not only for kids,
but adults as well.