Construction of Environmentalism
Spirited Away examines the consequences of actions that alter the natural world in destructive ways. Haku and the ancient river spirit represent these consequences most dramatically. Haku lost his home because his river was paved over to build an apartment complex, and the ancient river spirit at first seems to be a stink spirit because it’s so polluted. The abandoned amusement park at the beginning of the movie is linked to the issue of land management. Chihiro’s father notes that many theme parks were built in Japan during the boom times, and they were abandoned when the economy went bad. As a result, unsightly, false landscapes dot the countryside. Self-pollution, a more personal aspect of environmentalism, occurs through No-Face’s and Chihiro’s parents’ over-consumption of food. Haku, too, is polluted by Yubaba’s slug. Environmentalism is a familiar motif in Miyazaki’s films, and critiquing the consequences of development and pollution through animated characters sheds new and unusual light on these issues
Connstruction of Good and Evil
In Spirited Away, every character is a mix of good and bad qualities and actions. Even those who seem good at first, such as Haku and No-Face, have their share of evil qualities. By the same token, those who seem bad in the beginning, such as Zeniba, Kamaji, and Lin, become instrumental in Chihiro’s escape. Chihiro herself is extremely unpleasant at first, and she reveals her better nature only after she becomes Sen. Spirited Away’s blurred line between good and evil is a much more accurate reflection of the real world outside the film. In the end, evil is not vanquished but pushed aside as characters make choices that weaken bad influences. These choices have a ripple effect: Sen’s acts of goodness bring out the latent good in those she encounters. The only character who seems to remain unchanged by Sen’s example is Yubaba, but even Yubaba has qualities, such as her love for Boh, that...
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