Spirited Away is a Japanese animated film about a nervous, 10 year old girl named Chihiro who is moving with her parents to a new town. On their way to the new house, Chihiro’s father takes a wrong turn and ends up in a dark, isolated forest. The family decides to get out of the car and finds an abandoned, what they believe to be, amusement park. After Chihiro’s family decide to indulge themselves on enchanted food, Chihiro finds herself stuck in a “spirited” land, trying to get her parents to return to their human form and to break a spell placed on them. Along the way, Chihiro meets a lot of Japanese spirits, animals, and witches.
The film is based on the Shinto folklore. I believe that, with parental consent, I could show this film to my 4th grade students. We can relate it to the folktales we learn about in our curriculum and compare and contrast the similarities in the spirits, characters, spells, and morals/lessons. We can also compare Spirited Away to American stories like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. We do read an excerpt from The Wizard of Oz in my class and we could relate the characters, theme, and plot to those in Spirited Away. I like that the main character is based on a 10 year old girl and my students could relate to her as a character being the same age as them. It would be a great engagement activity to teach my students about Japanese architecture, clothing, and artifacts and then have those aspects be represented in the film.