Spirited Away: 17 Years Later

What was your first anime? Now, that’s a great first date question.

Mine was Spirited Away. I rented the DVD from the local videostore in Nagoya anxious to see what all the fuss was about.

And I wanted to test out my progress in Japanese after a year of learning.

All I can really remember of the film is disappointment. Nobody was saying KONNICHI WA or OHAYOU GOZAIMASU. I was well out of my depth.

Watching it again 17 years later, I can understand a lot more Japanese, but the plot remained in a foreign language.

In the film, coal soot has a soul. Paper aeroplanes have will power. Even the street lantern has manners. Am I missing something on my trips to Japan?

And where are all the good guys in cowboy hats?

Actually, the anime is about a good girl – called Chihiro. And she is a very good girl, blessed with a natural sense of right and wrong. A child fighting battles the greedy adults can’t see – an animated Greta Thunberg.

We need more children like her.

A normal film could not be as pretty as this. Real life is too ugly, too many backgrounds already spoiled.

Maybe that’s what makes anime so appealing, all the crap of everyday life can be excluded.

It has certainly inspired me to watch more. Any suggestions?

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