Spirited Away’s Deeper Meaning

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Spirited Away (2001) is an extremely influential animated film. The first time I watched this movie, I didn’t understand the message behind it and found it kind of silly. Because of its popularity, I decided to rewatch the film and fell in love with it after truly understanding the symbolism within the characters and the plot as a whole. Spirited Away has been one of my favorite movies ever since and has left a great impact on me.  

The popular character No-Face has specifically made a mark on my life. No-Face is a powerful dark spirit that eats other spirits. By eating other spirits, he essentially absorbs their emotions, good and bad. Consuming the amount of negativity that he does leads No-Face to become a villain, not because he’s truly evil, but because he’s a reflection of other spirits; he is alone and misunderstood as a result. When No-Face first appears in the movie, it’s standard to be scared and root against him, but by the end of the movie, most watchers sympathize with him and even end up liking him. I know I did!

No-Face had an impact on me simply because of what he represents. No-Face lost the idea of who he was and became lost in the world due to his attachment to other beings. His life was ultimately based on other people, and he treated the other characters according to what he knew and how he perceived the world around him, much like a child. As the movie progresses, the audience can understand the complexity of this character and the fact that he really isn’t a villain. 

Spirited Away, and particularly No-Face, serves as a reminder to me that I shouldn’t let other people’s negativity or even the own negative emotions that I harbor affect me. Like No-Face, I can become consumed by the negativity that surrounds me throughout my life. But also like No-Face, I can choose to break free from that negativity and not let anyone or anything dim my light and make me forget who I am.