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Spirited Away Film

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Spirited Away Film

I was searching for a film appropriate for fifth graders, and came upon Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away,(2001) a two hour animated film. It was a very successful film in Japan, and has been dubbed in English by Disney. It tells of an unhappy child, moving to a new town. Along the way, she and her family enter a confusing, mythical world. The little girl faces many challenges and must rescue her parents. Many themes can be explored, loyalty to family, Japanese culture, myths and symbolism, growing up and working, and friendship. I enjoyed the film, my first anime, though it is long, and it may be too intense for fifth graders, or those prone to nightmares.
It could be used with older students, and if I were to use it, these are the things I would explore, tying to our standards. Students could identify what make the film setting Japanese.They could identify characters and their problems, and the attempts to resolve them. Students could compare with Alice in Wonderland or The Lion King. Older students may recognize similarities to more Western myths. An interesting twist to the story, and one that makes it more appropriate for older students, is that there are few only good or bad characters, and the film ends where it began.