Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi

  • Directors: Hayao Miyazaki
  • Producers: Toshio Suzuki
  • Writers: Hayao Miyazaki
  • Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Japanese, Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takashi NaitЕЌ, Yasuko Sawaguchi, English, Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Michael Chiklis, Lauren Holly, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Susan Egan, Bob Bergen, Tara Strong

Chihiro and her parents are moving to a new town. While driving, her father decides to take a shortcut, but gets lost, stumbling across what appears to be an abandoned theme park. The family crosses a tunnel and explores the park, finding the stalls are full of freshly-cooked food. Her parents help themselves while Chihiro refuses to eat. While Chihiro’s parents are eating, Chihiro wanders off and meets a boy named Haku. Haku seems to be familiar with Chihiro and warns her urgently to escape with her parents; she returns to find her parents have turned into pigs, and that the way back has become inundated into a deep river. Spirits appear and go about celebrating in the park. Haku secretly takes Chihiro to a large bathhouse, careful to avoid alerting the spirits to the presence of a human. Haku then tells her that she must get a job from the witch Yubaba, the owner of the park’s bathhouse, until he can help her recover her parents and escape.

With the help of the boiler room master Kamajii and a bathhouse servant girl Lin, Chihiro is able to convince Yubaba to give her a job; in exchange, Chihiro is forced to give up her name so that Yubaba may keep her in her service forever. Yubaba gives her new servant the name “Sen”. Chihiro eventually learns that Haku is similarly indebted to Yubaba. Chihiro is put to work alongside Lin, helping to bathe and serve the most difficult spirits in the bathhouse. Chihiro is able to successfully bathe a “stink spirit”, later revealed to be a river spirit who had been heavily polluted, who rewards Chihiro for her service with a magic healing cake made from special herbs, as well as with gold. Later, Chihiro discovers Haku’s true form, a dragon, as he is attacked by paper birds controlled by Zeniba, Yubaba’s twin sister. Haku had stolen Zeniba’s sigil under orders from Yubaba. Chihiro tries to help Haku recover from his injuries using the cake given to her by the river spirit, which acts as an emetic to the dragon, thus recovering Zeniba’s sigil and squashing a peculiar black slug that had been attached to it; however, Haku remains comatose, so Chihiro decides to travel to Zeniba’s home to return the sigil, hoping to break her curse over Haku. Chihiro sets out on a lonely train ride across the spirit world, along with a wraith-like spirit called No Face, who terrorized the bathhouse and tried to earn the affection of Chihiro, and Boh, Yubaba’s gigantic infant son whom Zeniba had transformed into a mouse.

The group arrives at Zeniba’s house to find that Zeniba is friendlier than expected, and that the curse on Haku was placed on him by Yubaba, but Chihiro’s love and caring has broken the spell. Zeniba makes Chihiro a special hairband to show her that her friends are with her, as well as for protection, and No Face is offered to stay at Zeniba’s home as her assistant. Haku, now recovered, shows up to return Chihiro to the bathhouse, explaining that Yubaba will return Chihiro’s parents to normal and allow all three of them to leave in exchange for returning Boh. As they travel on Haku’s dragon form, Chihiro realizes that Haku is the same river spirit that saved her as a small child when she fell into the Kohaku River, and the realization helps to break Yubaba’s control on Haku completely. At the bathhouse, Yubaba reveals that Chihiro must pass one more task as part of Haku’s deal: identify which pigs out of several are her parents. Chihiro passes the test, and Yubaba is forced to let her and her family go. Haku escorts her to the entrance of the spirit world, telling her that her parents are waiting on the other side, but to not look back or else the deal will be broken. Chihiro rejoins her parents, not once looking back; the family returns to their car, now dusty, to continue to their new home. Zeniba’s hairband is still in Chihiro’s hair.