Spirited Away has been aptly compared to both Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. Like both Alice and Dorothy, Chihiro gets lost in a fantastical world where she meets odd characters, who alternately help and hinder her adventure. Food constantly changes Alice’s body, just as it changes bodies in Spirited Away: It turns Chihiro’s parents into pigs and it saves Chihiro’s life. Words and word games confuse and enlighten Alice, and words play a big role in Chihiro’s adventure as well. Thematically, Spirited Away most resembles The Wizard of Oz. While Alice goes looking for adventure to escape the boredom of a lazy day with her sister, Chihiro and Dorothy are thrust unwillingly into their strange new worlds and want only to go home. Unlike Alice, who encounters other characters only briefly, Chihiro forms deep friendships in her new world, just as Dorothy does in Oz with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion. At the end of Spirited Away, Chihiro finds that what she needs to get home has been inside her all along. She summons her inner strength just as Dorothy does when she clicks the heels of her ruby slippers.
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?