The classic Studio Ghibli film “Spirited Away” was released in 2001 and it remains as popular today as it was fifteen years ago. It’s the most successful film in Japan’s history (it even won an Oscar) and it grossed almost $300 million worldwide. But while the movie has no shortage of fans, it also has no shortage of people who continue to argue about what the sometimes ambiguous movie actually means.
To bring the ongoing debate to an end once and for all, a Japanese fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece recently wrote to Studio Ghibli asking for an explanation regarding the story’s underlying message. And to her surprise, she actually got a reply.
Twitter user @0910noncha wanted to know why the protagonist’s parents turned into pigs, what was in their food, and how Chihiro managed to pass her final exam. The reply she received went on for almost two pages and was written by a studio employee. In it they explained that Chihiro’s parents turned into pigs because the transformation represented the greed that took place during the Japanese recession of the 80s.
The letter also explained that the transformation was irreversible in order to reflect the nature of greed in the real world. The letter continued by saying that Chihiro knew that none of the pigs in the pen were her parents because her mindset had changed following her experiences in the underworld.
Finally, the letter explained that the story isn’t about a girl with a “unique heart” – it’s actually about a girl who learned to face her fears by developing a heightened understanding and appreciation of life.
But what about the food? Well, that one remains a mystery. After all, what would people argue about otherwise?