Project #154810 - Spirited Away Reflection

General Tutors

Subject General
Due By (Pacific Time) 11/18/2016 09:00 pm


  • Watch the entire film:  Spirited Away (2001, Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki Hayao, dir.)

  • Take notes on aspects of the film, considering aspects of the Shinto belief system, Zen Buddhist aesthetics, and Euro-American influences

  • Read the two articles that relate to the film – Boyd & Nishimura 2004; Okuyama 2015 (posted on Brightspace)

  • Write a 400-word reaction paper, discussing at least 3-5 of the points below.


Points to Notice:


  • Elements related to Shinto and traditional Japanese conceptions of the spirit world:

      • Physical objects

      • Markers of space

      • Kami spirits (of nature, objects, vegetables, etc.)

      • Yokai demons

      • Kami-Yokai spectrum, and how characters transition between points on that spectrum

      • Yama uba (Japanese mountain witch/yokai)

      • Other kinds of monsters and/or anthropomorphic creatures

      • Ideas of purity/pollution and how characters move between the two

      • Importance of food in transitioning between worlds or states of being

      • Power of words (kodama) and names

  • Elements related to Zen aesthetics & philosophy:

      • Mono no aware

      • Wabi sabi

      • Ma (space)

      • Conception of morality (right action)

  • Elements of Japanese society:

      • Bathhouse culture

      • “Folkloresque” representation of old Japan

      • Social hierarchies

  • Euro-American influences:

      • Chihiro’s independent spirit and determination

      • Yubaba’s furniture and room décor

  • Consider the following questions:

    • In what ways does Miyazaki bring Shinto conceptions of the spirit world to life through this film?

    • What aspects of this film did you find to be very “foreign,” unfamiliar, or “Japanese”? What aspects of the film felt familiar (i.e. from Hollywood or Disney films)?

    • What messages does Miyazaki hope to get across through this film?


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