Spirited Away is an anime classic released in 2001. It was the first Japanese anime to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Directed and written by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away is the story of an ordinary ten-year-old girl who goes on an extraordinary adventure, but she’s unsure if it really happened. Chihiro is a young girl moving to her new home with her parents, when her father decides to take a short-cut and ends up in an abandoned amusement park. Chihiro meets a boy named Haku who warns her to return to her car before sunset. For Chihiro, it becomes too late when she discovers her parents have turned into pigs. Haku then encourages Chihiro to work in the Spirited Away bathhouse of the amusement park, which is really the spirit world. Chihiro is given a new name and must leave the spirit world before she forgets her real name. Check out various Spirited Away screen facts below.
Made Without a Script
Hayao Miyazaki started creating the storyboard for Spirited Away before he had the script. He was inspired by his friend’s ten-year-old daughter and believed girls that age needed a story they could relate to about an ordinary girl, without any powers. With that idea, he started drawing the movie. Miyazaki has stated, “I don’t have the story finished and ready when we start work on a film. I usually don’t have the time. So the story develops when I start drawing storyboards. The production starts very soon thereafter, while the storyboards are still developing.” Miyazaki never knows the complete plot of his movies and has said, “it’s not me who makes the film. The film makes itself and I have no choice but to follow.” For Spirited Away, Miyazaki was a jack-of-all-trades, as he wrote, directed and drew for the movie. He wrote the plot through his drawings.
Voice Acting While Eating
Early on in the anime, there is a memorable scene where Chihiro’s parents dive in and eat food that does not belong to them. They end up talking while eating. To capture this performance properly, the original Japanese voice actor, Yasuko Sawaguchi, ate KFC while recording her lines. The English voice actor, Lauren Holly, used the same strategy but ate an apple instead of KFC.
Hayao Miyazaki planned to retire after completing his project Princess Mononoke in 1999. When he was inspired by his friend’s daughter, he decided to delay his retirement and make Spirited Away. Miyazaki truly followed his belief that “it’s not me who makes the film. The film makes itself and I have no choice but to follow,” pulling himself out of retirement to create a project that called to him. Miyazaki has yet to retire as he has continued to make many more films for his company Studio Ghibli.
In the English dub of the film, new narration was added in to clarify details English audiences may not understand. Notably, when Chihiro enters the Japanese bathhouse, in the original, she just entered. In the English dub, there is a narration saying, “Oh, it’s a bathhouse.” Other common Japanese elements required further clarification to a worldwide audience as well.
Character Names Match Their Roles
All the character names carry meanings for what they do, or how they look. This is usual for Miyazaki character names, as he always intentionally uses meaningful names or clever names. In Spirited Away character names include: Boh which means little boy, Kamaji which means boiler man, Chihiro which means a thousand searches, and Sen which means a thousand.