Spirited Away is a Japanese animated film about the adventure of a girl called Chihiro in the spiritual world. Despite the adventurous nature of the story, food plays an important role and different kinds of food carry specific meanings. Here, I am going to focus on the implications of food as attractions in the materialistic world. Besides that, I will discuss how food helps to present the themes of people immersing and losing identity in the materialistic world from the formal perspective.
Caption: Chihiro’s father and mother are eating food prepared for gods in the spiritual world.
The first screenshot shows Chihiro’s parents eating the food prepared for the gods of the spiritual world. Looking at the camera angle and composition of this shot, medium shot is employed and it shows the back of Chihiro’s parents. The shot is composed of Chihiro’s parents, who are sitting in a restaurant with a wide range of food items placing above their eyelevel. Using medium shot can provide the viewers with some ideas about the surrounding environment of the scene. So, viewers can see Chihiro’s parents are deeply attracted by the food and concentrating fully on getting it. As food relates to materialism in the movie, this reflects that humans focus too much on the attractions in the materialistic world. Also, putting food above Chihiro’s parents can create a feeling that they are buried by the food, thus implies humans are submerged in the materialistic world.
The sound also helps presenting the theme. While Chihiro’s parents are eating, Chihiro keeps shouting at her parents. She urges them to stop eating and leave the place immediately. Yet, her parents completely ignore her and continue to eat. This reflects a phenomenon in 21st century well developed Japanese society. With the affluent resources, people have a greater demand for higher living standard. However, they often put too much emphasis on the materialistic world and put its importance above other things in their lives like their families.
Moreover, looking into the content, the theme of losing self-identity in the materialistic world can be seen clearly. After eating the food prepared for gods, Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs. This shows the danger of losing self if an individual blindly pursues materialism.
Caption: Kaonashi is taking a bath and enjoying the cuisines in Aburaya.
The second screenshot shows that Kaonashi is bathing in Aburaya and the staff in Aburaya keeps serving him with different cuisines. For the camera angle and composition of this shot, long shot is used and Kaonashi appears in the middle of the shot and surrounded by lots of food. The use of long shot here can show the viewers clearly how Kaonashi interacts with the surroundings, which he is steeping in the cuisines. This portrays the lives of many people that they are immersing in the materialistic world.
For the sound in this shot, the dialogues between Kaonashi and the staff in Aburaya also help to present the themes. Kaonashi keeps saying he is very hungry and ordering the staff to offer him more food. In reply, the staff encourages him to eat more. Kaonashi’s dialogues show people’s greed and desire towards the attractions in the materialistic world and the replies of the staff in Aburaya illustrate the temptations of the materialism.
Caption: Atama keeps eating nonstop after turned into Bo by Zeniiba.
In the last screenshot, Atama keeps eating after being turned into Bo. Medium shot is used and the shot shows Atama is surrounded by mountains of beautifully packed snacks. This composition again shows people are immersed into the materialistic world. More importantly, the nicely packed snacks imply that lures in the materialistic world often appear to be attractive.
Other than that, the sound created while Atama is eating shows that he is eating in a very rude manner. He tries to put all the food into his stomach. With reference to the changes in the appearance of Atama, this shots presents the idea that materialistic lifestyle is often a way for many people to escape from the reality and fill up their spiritual barren.
All in all, food has an important role in Spirited Away as it is the representation of the attractions in the materialistic world and reflecting the people’s lifestyles in the modern society. By giving food a key role in the movie, it allows viewers to rethink the role materialism should play in their lives.