Spirit Away – First Memory


Spirited Away
The earliest memory that I have of Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders representation was through media, the film Spirited Away. Directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki. This film is a story about a girl named Chihiro Ogino who travels with her parents that decided to move into the Japanese countryside. Soon during their travels, they end up at a stop that is very odd. Leaving them curious they explore into what appears to be a cultural theme park, but in reality is a ghost town. In this town, she ends up meeting a Japanese boy Haku. Meeting him will soon be the beginning of her adventure and mission to have the help of Haku to help save her parents that end up turning into pigs from eating cursed food (rice, noodles, meat & more).

Throughout this film it represents a lot of Japanese culture, for example the building, towns she travels to as well as the clothing worn. As well as the people she comes to meet, for example how the two men that are obviously have the features of the eyes and face in general. There is also the jobs and work that is viewed within the film. The jobs like Haku’s bathhouse worker, apprentice, clothing maker, writer, cooker and etc. Furthermore the people, the witch Yubaba and spirits that lurks around. The spirits are one big influence in the film as well as the magic involved.


The representation in the film that go along with class discussion is that it at all includes some yellow peril, for example the ruthless spirits and the witch. How the characters are evil and dangerous and especially non-human. Also there is yellow logic where, if I may get this correct that in the film it represents AAPI in an interesting way, through the animation, music, language, culture and detail story. Another example term is explicit yellow face, where the character Chihiro is voiced by a white actress Daveigh Chase (English) and in Japanese Rumi Hiiragi as well as the witch voiced by Suzanne Pleshette. Haku, is voiced by Miyu Irino, a Japanese voice actor. Yes, of course this film will be voiced in different languages featured, but it’s interesting what actress they choose to give the character the voice.
Viewing this film now and comparing it from when I was 10, gives me a different view. I honestly thought of the spirits, the many colors in the town and how at times evil looking AAPI are scary, to be honest. But I growing up, I loved watching films such as these. Now watching it again, there have been changes, only small ones though.

Here is a link to the trailer. http://youtu.be/_jGXcSBcvQQ


One thought on “Spirit Away – First Memory

  1. Spirited Away is one of my favorite movies–I don’t think yellow peril really applies in this case (as the movie isn’t portraying Asians as taking over the west, for example). However, you make an interesting point about the choices for voice actors. I think one of the main themes of the movie was the strength of adolescent girls, so perhaps a better “reading” of the movie would be how it challenges the traditional “lotus blossom” stereotype of Asian women.

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