Spirited Away (was RE: Woefully OT (was Re: DVD regions))

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Sep 24 08:51:45 EDT 2003

Jennifer wrote:

>It was really charming. The heroine is a good one, and I loved the details,
>the place she spends most of the film, the people she meets. Very cool to
>see a different fantasy ecosystem to the Euro-American Fantasylands I read
>most of.

The underlying theme, though, seems to be the very old one also found in
European folklore: be polite and helpful, if you are on a quest, and the
people you are polite to and help will later help you.  That's how any
Third Son gets his start in the stories: sharing his food with the starving
old woman, putting the baby bird back in the nest, little kind deeds that
get repaid many-fold -- after his elder brothers have told her to get lost,
they only have sarnies for one, and walked straight past the struggling
fledgling, and so forth, and come to a Bad End as a result.

(That and a dash of the girl who does impossible tasks like making cambric
shirts from nettles, and never gives up however awful and impossible it may
seem, which is also old folk-loric stuff.)

This is so basic an idea, and so alien to the film-critics, that I haven't
seen anyone mention it yet, so I thought I would drop it in.  :-)  They
seem to be too busy haring off after such as "oooh it's shocking it's about
a pre-pubescent girl enslaved to work in a bath-house, and we all know
those are brothels really, *what is the significance of her having to clean
up a dirty old man then eh*?" and whether or not the "baby" is some sort of
thing about rejecting adulthood, to notice something I found incredibly
obvious.  I think it's a film about bravery and good behaviour being
rewarded, which seems a good message to me..

>(I have a small puzzle about a minor thing, if anyone more familiar with
>anime than me has seen it and might be able to explain something. It didn't
>spoil my enjoyment, it's just something that I thought of since)
>Why did No-Face want to give her things? Was it just for letting it in, or
>was it attracted to her for some other reason- given that it seemed to be
>paying her attention on the bridge before she let it in?

I'm not an anime expert or anything like that, but as a simple soul who
watched the film, I thought it was something to do with No-Face having
spotted that she was human right from the start, and perhaps having some
idea that a human was important?  After that, it was a matter of returning
good that had been done, the third-son motif, I suspect.

I need to see it again, several times, to sort out how No-Face relates to
the small eco-message about "polluting rivers is a Really Bad Idea" -- did
you notice the rusty bicycle among the ghastly muck that got spewed up at
one point?


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