The Shocking Hidden Message in "Spirited Away"

It's been some time since I wanted to write a post on this topic. We all know Studio Ghibli's Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi or the English title Spirited Away. I was a kid when I firstly watched it and I watched it in German. Yes, in German and its title was Chihiros Reise ins Zauberland. An Academy Award winning animated movie by the king of anime Hayao Miyazaki about a little girl that gets lost in a strange world and her only wish is to find her parents. But cute, little childhood story has a much more deeper meaning than you all thought. The story behind the story. The truth about Spirited Away. It is a really heavy topic so I'd kindly ask kids under 15 to skip this post.


I guess that barely anyone noticed the sign above the bath house door that Chihiro worked in for a while. The sign ゆ  is a hiragana symbol that, when translated to English, means 'hot water'.  You think "Ah, makes sense" since it is a bath house...Right? That is true, but the real meaning behind this takes us back to 17-19th century Japan known as the Edo-period. At that time, bath houses were nothing else but places visited by men that would get sexual favors from loose women. If you thing that this is not 'proof' enough than let's discuss the main villain of the anime, Yubaba.


You probably remember her, the old, creepy witch that runs the bath house, Yubaba. Now guess what were the brothel madams called in the Edo period. Exactly, they were called Yubaba. What was also normal at that time, when they started to work in such places, the women would change their names and sign over their identities to their madam. That also happens to Chihiro when Yubaba forces her to change her name from Chihiro to Sen.


Why do you think did No-Face keep offering Chihiro gold and tokens? Why a little girl and not the other women working there. The answer to that question was actually the most shocking information I heard about this movie. The reason for that was that No-Face actually wanted to buy Sen, or more precisely, her virginity.

The worst thing about all this talk is that it is actually true. These are not some guesses, these are facts proven by Miyazaki himself. In interviews, Miyazaki admits that he did all this intentionally:
"I think that the most appropriate way to symbolize today's world is the sex industry. Hasn't Japanese society become like the sex industry?"

Thug words by a man that made our childhood a magical time by giving us masterpieces like Spirited Away. I don't want to say that my childhood is ruined now knowing that Spirited Away is a movie about prostitution and the corruption of children. Still, it had a huge impact on me and made me respect Miyazaki's work even more. It really needs a genius to hide such a heavy topic in a children movie. So next time you watch another Miyazaki movie, think twice about its message, because its story is probably deeper than you thought.


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