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Chris Demczar

Mrs. Goins

Anime and Philosophy, Wednesday 6-10pm

6 October 2010                                                                                                           Spirited Away

            Art is an expression of symbolic elements that help express the meaning and plot of a narration, while adding a pleasing beauty for its audience. Art is especially important in movies where its visual elements play a key role in how viewers interpret the film.  Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is an Anime film that uses both a glowing and comfortable array of artistic elements to help tell the story.

           Art used in Spirited Away is immediately noticed through the masking of the film.  The difference in the animation and realism between the characters and the background is not a lot, but enough to show the contrast that makes the characters of the movie seem that much more animated, and in this fairytale, that much more magical.  This is made possible by the mastered level of architecture used in the rooms of the bath house, from the boiler room all the way up to Yu-baaba’s room.  "This includes the audience’s perception of the walls as well as furniture, rigs, and other decor that use ominous color shades to give that hint of realism" (Spirited Away, 11).  Even the food appears more realistic, making it very appealing to the audience and obviously to Chihiro’s parents when contrasted against the animated images of the film characters. 

            The audience of Spirited Away is whirled into a mature, magical town with a spa for spirits to bathe and rest. It is very much the visual elements of this spa that stand out among other color scenes in the movie. The main colors used are vibrant reds, with plenty of gold touches during certain scenes like in Yu-baaba’s room (Spirited Away, 11).The halls are adorned with bright rich colors, which exuberates the wealth and esteem the spa has as standards towards its customers.  The bright colored food arrays and gleaming, spot free baths show this distinct, bright environment that’s much more festive from the rest of the magical town, which illuminates at night and thrives.  The baby’s room on the top floor of the spa shows the contrast to the visuals of the colors of the art in the film.  The room is a lush green, very soft and mellow, representing the outside surroundings to give the baby a feelas if he is outdoors, as Yu-baaba never allows him outside to protect him from germs.  

            One aspect that I feel commonly gets overlooked as art is the music of the film. Miyazaki perfectly pairs sweet melodies of hope and courage throughout the film as Chihiro (Sen) encounters problems and must find the courage to face them, usually on her own. The music also parallels the title of the film, as the inner spirit within Chihiro and the audience can be found within as the music flows through their ears.  It’s that spirit within that artistic beauty of melody that helps carry the plot and instill the fairytale like story into the minds of the audience.  The knowledge of our inner spirit is further developed by the water reflecting against the gleaming body of Haku’s dragon body in the climax of the film, where Chihiro remembers Haku’s real name and breaks his spell, giving him back his identity, part of his inner spirit.  The sparkling of Haku’s eyes shows this realization, another artistic feat accomplished by Miyazaki.  All of these aspects describe the purity and cleanliness of the inner spirit, which the audience finds Chihiro’s to be of the upmost purity.  "We see the river spirit fly away once clean in its dragon form, a gleaming white, paralleling the purity of Chihiro’s pure spirit" (Shinto perspectives on Spirited Away, 4).

            The anime film Spirited Away exemplifies the mastery of art as an essential element to the mold that creates this fairytale.  Chihiro is an amazing example towards kids her age, both for her bravery and innocence, and what helps create that understanding is the artistic work of Miyazaki in the anime Spirited Away.


Boyd, James W., and Tetsuya Nishimura. "The Journal on Religion and Film." Shinto's Perspective on Miyazaki's Anime Film "Spirited Away" 8.2 (2004): 1-7. 14 Oct. 2008. Web. 6 Oct. 2010. <>.

Cavallaro, Danny. Spirited AwayThe Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland &, 2006. 1-16. Print.

1 Comment

  1. Opening pragraph has some nice ideas and clear theme but you need to expand on this.

    Some good ideas on the art but you need to discuss this on a deeper level. Why does Miyazaki use this type pf art? How does it impact the viewer? You hint at this a little with the discussion of Hauk's sparkling but you need to expand this discussion.

    Also, the music is important but you are talking about the art. You need to stay focused and stay on point in your essay.