3 thoughts on “The Folklore of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away””

  1. These drawings are awesome! They added a very nice personal touch to your analysis of folk lore as it is presented in Spirited Away. Great work. I liked the panel about the Noh Mask a lot because I didn’t realize that the name “No-Face” is something of a pun! I mean, there was a lot I didn’t know about the lore behind that movie, so thank you for sharing your research.

  2. Janice, this is such an interesting and original project! I too appreciate your original drawings; they reall make the project come alive.

    I had two questions when I was done rereading your post:

    (1) About the resemblance between No-Face and Noh theatre masks, my understanding (admittedly limited) is that Noh masks traditionally serve to indicate age, gender, and social status. No-Face, though, does not have an explicitly gendered face, nor any clear age. It’s almost as if he (it?) is a version of the Noh mask stripped of all identifying features. Does that seem significant to you? (I wish I knew more about Noh theatre, and that your post could delve into that.)

    (2) Yubaba certainly is a caricatured figure, what with her outsized head and staring eyes, etc. But she displays certain virtues despite her greed, such as getting the bathhouse workers to work together (remember when the stink spirit, or river spirit, pays a visit?). She also has a comically soft spite (the huge baby). What do you think about the way Miyazaki qualifies her monstrous or villainous qualities?

  3. Wow, fantastic work on all the illustrations! My favorite section to read was on the Kami because of the folklore behind it and the awesome art. The role of the Kami in relation to Spirited Away puts the pig transformation bit into even more cultural context. The vengeful act of returning a transgression like that adds to the severity of Chihiro’s parents’ crime and instills absolute badassery in kami. I almost wish the film explored this aspect more. Thanks for sharing!
    -CB

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