Spirited Away

Hayao Miyazaki

Spirited Away © film art courtesy Bookshop.org

Suitable for middle-grade viewers and up, Spirited Away is the story of ten year-old Chihiro, whose family is moving to a new community. On their way to their new home, they discover what seems to be an abandoned theme park. But as night falls, the abandoned park transforms into a world inhabited by kami (spirits). Separated from her parents, Chihiro must find a way to navigate this gloriously irrational, magical world and, ultimately, be reunited with her family.

A description of this film’s plot, however, cannot do justice to the power of its imagery, its humor, and its heart.

Rooted in the mythology of Shinto and presented in the style of Japanese anime, this delightful (and occasionally delightfully creepy) film offers such a scintillating image of the personal unconscious, I couldn’t resist adding Spirited Away to this list of suggested materials. Through an imaginal lens, Chihiro’s story can be understood as an encounter the unconscious figures of the inner world, and an exploration of the process of learning how to interact respectfully and effectively with them.

Viewers may enjoy watching the film in tandem with reading Shadow and Evil in Fairytales, as von Franz’s lens on folktales suggests a host of insights for Chihiro’s story, as well.