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Comparing The Shojo Character Of Chihiro (Sen) From Miyazaki's Spirited Away With The Character Alice From Disney's Alice In Wonderland

1525 words - 6 pages

In this essay I will be discussing the similarities and differences between the character Alice from Walt Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland' and the character Chihiro (Sen) from Hayao Miyazaki's film Spirited Away. These characters are both of comparable ages and their personalities share many qualities which go through the same metamorphosis towards the end of the films. Both characters experience new, exciting and even dangerous situations that challenge them more than they could ever have imagined before. Miyazaki's typical Shojo character is notably independent and active, courageously confronting thevariety of obstacles before her in a manner that might well be described as stereotypically masculine, as opposed to the classic Shojo character, which tends to be passive or dreamy with ultrafemininity. However, Disney's typicalfemale character is usually not nearly as forthright as a Miyazaki character and they tend to be more passive and less 'fiery'. The character Alice from Alice in Wonderland seems to be one of the exceptions.Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away came for many with built-in expectations. After the exhausting but highly successful production of Princess Mononoke (1998), the director announced his retirement from filmmaking. Itwas a promise he reneged on when meeting the ten-year old daughter of a friend. This girl provided the inspiration for Chihiro, the little heroine at the centre of Spirited Away, a film aimed at ten-year old girls but universal enough in its appeal to break every box office record on its home turf, going on to not only become the highest grossing film of all time in Japan, but attaining thatstatus in record time.What struck Miyazaki about the real-life girl who served as the inspiration for Chihiro was not only the fact that she seemed jaded to the attention her parents were giving her (something he subsequently noticed in other girls of that age), but also that she was one member of an age group largely overlooked by the film industry. This combination of signalling a negative social tendency and finding a positive challenge is what puts Spirited Away in its central position within Miyazaki's composition as stated above. The problem of child rearing is broached here not only in the relationship between Chihiro and her parents at the start of the film, in which the girlcarries a sense of detachment from her parents, but also in the portrayal of the overprotective care of Yubaba for her giant baby, which says that the problem is not entirely to blame on the attitude of the children. Indeed, the storyrevolves around how the jaded child of the film's opening scene changes her own life by using her own abilities for kindness, endurance, devotion and honesty. It's with these tools and a bit of help from others that she surmountsthe challenges and obstacles on her path, including the policy of name changes decreed by Yubaba, which constitutes nothing less than an Orwellian method to rob people's identities and force...

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