Headscratchers / Spirited Away

  • How was Yubaba able to have a giant baby like Boh?
    • This troper always got the impression that Boh isn't actually a baby, he's just been treated like one his whole life and so, because this is a magic place, he keeps looking like one.
      • Is it ever specifically stated that Boh is Yubaba's baby through blood? Perhaps she adopted him.
    • Her coddling him kept him from maturing, but it didn't keep him from growing. He's shaped like a baby because he is treated like one, and he's as big as he is because of his age.
  • This troper has always wondered—when Chihiro and her family arrive at the "restaurants", what are those pinkish-orange, pouchy-looking things Chihiro's dad piles onto his plate and basically eats whole? They look like they have some kind of red stuff inside, as well.
    • Tightly woven ramen or yakisoba?
    • It's clearly anpan, a bun filled with red bean jelly.
      • No, that's what Chihiro ate after the Stink Spirit left. I've heard secondhand that Studio Ghibli said that it was haggis, but I can't find the source. Theories range from steamed pork dumplings to boiled eggplants.
  • What was the point of not having Chihiro remember her journey through the spirit world? Yeah, it's a forbidden place for humans, but still: The moral of the story is about facing your fears and becoming more mature. If that's the case, then, wouldn't Chihiro's experience have been rather pointless if she didn't remember it once she came back? How would that have still made her change into a different person?
    • I don't recall it being said that she would forget everything? Though it's been a while since I saw the movie, but I'm sure only her parents were shown to have their memories wiped, while all Haku told Chihiro when she left was that "no matter what, don't look back." In the English dub, the parents at the end tell Chihiro she shouldn't be afraid of starting at a new school in a new place, to which Chihiro replies "I think I'll be okay." implying her being aware how capable she is in difference to her attitude at the beginning of the movie, which wouldn't make sense if she'd forgotten everything.
      • Well, according to Miyazaki himself, Chihiro did not recall her experience after leaving the spirit world at the end — but added that it doesn't mean completely forgetting it, and how there's a likely chance she'll eventually remember what happened.
    • Even if Chihiro doesn't consciously remember what happened, the emotional growth still happened. She's stronger now, because of her experience.
  • Okay, this has bothered me since I saw this film as a eight year old in 2002. Were Chihiro and Haku *in* love, or did they just love each other? It works either way, but I'm just curious what other people think.
    • They deeply cared about eachother, but they weren't in "love" love. They never explicitly stated anything more that the fact that they were good friends.
    • Call him a spirit guide, spirit protector, "imaginary" friend, or maybe a Big Brother Mentor that sort of thing. The "love" between them isn't love in a romantic sense, but there is a strong emotional attachment, like how an older brother would feel for his sister.
  • Did Haku lose his dragon form at the end, or did he consciously turn into a human so that he could talk to Chihiro?
    • The second thing, he couldn't talk to her in his dragon form.
    • Perhaps it was the shock of remembering his true name that caused him to transform so quickly.
  • It's set that the bath house workers don't lose their memories on the spot when Yubaba takes their names away and slowly makes them her slaves by making them forget who they are. That being sad, why hasn't anyone tried to prevent it and written down their old names while they still remember it? Wouldn't you think it suspicious that the oldest servants remember nothing of their lives before the bath house, not even their birth names?
    • Haku tells Chihiro to hide her card and other things if I remember correctly, so it's probably forbidden. And as we know, Yubaba can be rather spiteful when her rules get broken.
    • Also, you might as well start questioning how you can "take" someone's name, and how that would cause amnesia. A Wizard Did It, nothing to see here, move along...
    • Actually, the name-loss amnesia is an effect of the overall spell, not just the visible part. By taking away their names, Yubaba forced them to say, "Hello, I am —-" whatever their name was, but she also took their identities as well, and their identities were literally every other detail of who they are. All stripped away.
  • What exactly is Lin? We know she's not human, judging by her initial prejudice towards Chihiro.
    • She's a weasel. Or a weasel spirit.
  • Are all the lady bathhouse workers weasels? Are all the men frogs? Or are they all different kinds of animal spirits?
    • An overwhelming amount of the males seems to be frogs or toads, but clearly not all of them - Kamaji, for instance, is pretty obviously a spider. Not sure about the women since their animal characteristics are not obvious.
    • They're slug spirits.
  • Is there any particular reason why Chihiro was able to know none of the pigs present were her parents? This is never explicited, and it bugs me a bit. Is it because she has visited them enough times to remember some minor details about their pig forms? Is it just some kind of mystical connection between parents and kids? Or perhaps Chihiro by now is Genre Savvy enough to understand that the test would be impossible if it weren't for some sort of third option? Or all of those possibilities, or none of them?
    • I was always under the impression it was a mystical parent-child connection deal, though it could be that she just remembered details about their pig forms. It doesn't seem like Chihiro was quite Genre Savvy enough to know the test would be impossible because she does take a moment to look at the pigs in an attempt to find the right ones.
    • You know how "a mother always knows"? I guess sometimes it can work in reverse.
    • Remember what Zeniba said? "Once you've met someone, you never really forget them." And how can you forget your own parents?
    • I have watched the movie more times than I can count, and I think I finally figured this one out. When Chihiro's parents transform into pigs, they still have some of their human hair on their heads, even when fully transformed. Later when Haku takes Chihiro to go see her parents in the pig pen, the top of their heads are obscured from the audience's view, but Chihiro certainly gets a good look and probably saw they still had their hair on their heads. Later when Yubaba administers the final test, Chihiro can clearly see that all the pigs presented had no hair so none of them could be her parents.
  • So why did No-Face suddenly get hair? The other aspects of his transformation make sense: he could talk and got frog-like limbs because he ate a frog spirit and gets bigger as he eats more (especially two other bathhouse workers), but why the hair? And this happens before he eats the other two workers, who did have hair unlike the hairless frog from before.
    • How do mutations work? Maybe it's a reference to him being innocent beforehand and the hair grows as he's corrupted by the greed in the bathhouse? After he's cured, he's back to being innocent and so stays with Zeniba so he can be raised without the negative influences in the bathhouse.
  • Haku says that he and Chihiro will meet again someday. Does that mean that they will actually, physically meet? Or will it just be some spirit-y thing where she sees him as a river or something? Does Chihiro grow up, get married, barely think of him again? :( Has Miyazaki said anything about it?
    • He implies that he can't leave the spirit world, so unless Chihiro goes back one day then no they won't be able to physically meet. But maybe they'll be able to be together in spirit. If he has no river to be the spirit of, maybe he'll find another one and he and Chihiro will meet that way.
  • It's kind of unclear over what timeline the movie takes place. How long is Chihiro in the Spirit world? A few days? Weeks? Months? It seemed like more than just a few days to me.
    • Word of God is that it's three nights. The first night is when Chihiro signs her name away. The second is when No-Face arrives and then the third is when she gets to Zeniba's place. She goes home on the next morning. So she spends a long weekend in the spirit world.
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