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Tear Jerker / Spirited Away

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Don't cry, Chihiro…
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  • She may act immature at the start, but Chihiro is ten years old, around the age when most children start to desire autonomy from their parents. She calls them 'Mom' and 'Dad' instead of 'Mommy' and 'Daddy', and she has no trouble walking off alone. However, when they turn into pigs, she runs into the street and starts desperately calling out for them because she refuses to believe that those were really her parents. It's even worse in the English dub, where she starts hyperventilating and crying, and just screams, "MOMMYYYY!" It's absolutely gut-wrenching to think of how terrified she must be in that moment.
  • The bit when Haku has just taken Chihiro/Sen to see her parents in the pig stable, and he gives her a rice ball to eat, and she starts tearing up as she takes the first bite, and then halfway through finishing, just begins bawling from all the trauma she has accumulated over the past 16 hours or so. The music at that point certainly helps.
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  • If Chihiro crying her eyes out when it hits her that she is by herself in a strange world with only three people who actually care about her doesn't get you, the Bittersweet Ending will.
  • The soundtrack, especially "Reprise".
  • The moment where Lin tells Chihiro not trust a thing Haku says, right after his advice led her to sign away her name to Yubaba. Her reaction is to crouch down on the ground and start sobbing. The next morning shows that she's still miserable, and struggling not to cry since it would wake the other girls up.
  • Kamaji is worried when a visibly bleeding Haku and Chihiro crash into his basement. He goes over and starts to help, getting Haku into a comfortable position, expressing visible worry that the dragon boy will die. When Chihiro successfully gets the medicine into the dragon and smooshed the slug, he instructs her to do a little ritual to avoid bad luck, before Chihiro leans over Haku and begs him Please, Don't Leave Me!. The old man does care more than he would want Chihiro to think, though he masks it by telling a curious Rin that what they're seeing is love. We find out that he had an Unbroken Vigil over Haku, telling him he was lucky to survive.
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  • In a way, No Face’s interactions with Chihiro. He offers her a series of gifts in the hopes of seeing her smile and maybe earning her affection. However, he gets a little pushy with the gift-giving like him offering a bunch of bath tokens when she only needed one. When they meet up again later, he offers her a huge pile of gold, which she rejects since she’s busy trying to find Haku. The look on his face and the sound he makes is quite sad. He doesn’t understand why she’s refusing his gold, especially since everyone else in the bathhouse has been accepting it, and is upset. It could also be that he thinks the only way to win over someone’s friendship is to shower them with gifts.
  • When Yubaba calls Boh "that dirty mouse", as she doesn't recognize him in his cursed form, he looks like he's going to start crying.
  • Chihiro forgives No Face for his rampage after luring him out of the bathhouse. She says that it must have been a bad influence on him, and indirectly apologizes for letting him inside by inviting him onto the train due to having an extra ticket. No Face joins meekly, his incorporeal body slumped in apology. Chihiro holds no grudge.
  • The train journey. Granted, it's simply showing Chihiro, No-Face, Boh and the bird traveling to Zeniba's, but there's something so melancholy about it, particularly with the music. Chihiro has already traveled so far from everything she's known, and the train ride gives a sense of even greater, growing isolation.
  • The fact that Chihiro has to say goodbye to No Face. Zeniba invites him to stay longer as her apprentice, and he agrees. Chihiro thanks him, Boh, and the transformed bird for her new hair tie, since they spun and wove it for her out of love. She's visibly saddened at having to leave him.
  • Haku bargaining with Yubaba for "Sen"'s freedom. It's tearing him up on the inside that if he succeeds, then he'll never see her again. If he fails, then he's sacrificing his life for hers, and "Sen" is trapped forever.
  • Chihiro and Haku's reunion, mainly because of the background music that swells up with emotion. Chihiro asks Zeniba if Haku will be okay, and they hear a knock at the door. When Chihiro opens it, a healed Haku stands before her, confident and happy. She unsurprisingly hugs him and starts crying in relief that he's okay. He returns the gesture, nuzzling her. Zeniba approaches them smiling; she tells Haku she forgives him, knowing he was brainwashed by her sister. Haku whuffs in response, showing no hard feelings.
  • The moment where Chihiro figures out Haku's real name, and he returns to human form. They float in the air, as Haku thanks her for giving his name back. Chihiro cries Tears of Joy and says that she knew he was good!
  • Haku's backstory: He was a river spirit. The river has been dried up by humans and houses were built in its place. And that's why Haku forgot his name and lost himself.
  • The moment when Haku/Kohaku River bids goodbye to Chihiro, telling her not to look back once. He's brave and happy for her—to go home to her own parents— but when she lets go of his hand and starts down the stairs, his outstretched hand lingers. The parting hurts him more than he shows.
  • Regardless of whether or not Chihiro remembers the spirit world— she doesn't in the Japanese version while it's hinted that at least in the English dub she has her confidence and Character Development— she has to leave her friends behind: Haku, Rin, Boh, Zeniba, and even Yubaba. Haku promises that he will see her again, but who knows when that will be? There is a whole world where she can never enter again because it would be a death sentence for her. You can understand why she's almost tempted to look back. There's certainty in her last line in the English dub— "I think I can handle it" referring to school — because she lost so much more already to gain her freedom.
  • Meta-examples:
    • Yasuyoshi Tokuma died ten months before the film's release, making this his last Ghibli film.
    • Yubaba and Zeniba were Suzanne Pleshette’s final film roles before her subsequent television appearances on Good Morning, Miami, Will & Grace, retirement from acting and death in 2008.

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