The Westernized look of anime is rooted in the post-World War II occupation of Japan by the American armed forces. Inspired by the American adventure-based comic books that appeared during the occupation, an artist named Osamu Tezuka created the first commercially successful manga (the Japanese name for comic books) in 1947. The manga was called New Treasure Island and featured highly Westernized characters with big eyes, small noses, and a variety of hairstyles. It was based upon an English novel, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. After New Treasure Island became a hit, imitators began churning out manga featuring characters inspired by Tezuka, and manga went on to become hugely popular in Japanese culture. Eventually, these comic books were put on film and the medium of anime was born. Like most creators of anime, Miyazaki got his start drawing manga. His first film was based on a successful series of manga that he created.
Spirited Away is the second of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime to win the equivalent of the Academy Award for Best Picture in Japan. While it would be almost unheard of for a comic-book-based movie to achieve this honor in America, the historical significance of manga in Japan makes it possible there. Manga is a medium that crosses both gender and generational boundaries. Manga exist to fit every interest, from politics to pornography to violence, and the Japanese read manga much the same way that American adults read novels. However, manga’s readers do not draw the same distinction between animation and live action that Americans do. In fact, Spirited Away is one of Miyazaki’s few feature-length films intended for children. Most of his other movies, such as Princess Mononoke, which also won Best Picture in Japan, contain violence and adult concepts that could frighten a child.
Animation may be starting to cross generational boundaries in America the same way it does in Japan. The audience for anime in America is growing. As children who cut their anime teeth on Pokémon get older, they can begin to appreciate higher quality anime such as Spirited Away. Some filmmakers already credit anime for influencing their cinematic style, such as the Wachowski brothers with The Matrix. The influence of anime can only increase as today’s young anime fans become tomorrow’s filmmakers.
Although this page puts it that Chihiro and Haku share a purely platonic, brother/sister love, this is not true. For one thing, it just doesn't seem like it in the movie. For another, and more importantly, when the movie is played in Chinese, the boiler man (or Zeniba, I forget who) refers to Haku as Chihiro's 男朋友 which means boyfriend. So definitely, romantic relationship there.
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I always wondered why Kamaji told Chihiro that the train used to go two ways, yet it only goes one way now. He could have just told her that it goes one way, right?
Does the conjecture; the train symbolises going to the afterlife, and that our lack of belief has caused it to become a one way trip, make sense?
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When Chihiro and her parents exited the amusement park and entered their car, why was it filled with leaves and branches, just as if they left the car for several months in the woods? I also noticed that the vegetation had grown substantially. Maybe I am mistaken or time runs differently in the spirit world, any thoughts?