Hey! Hallie here!
Studio Ghibli has a large amount of films that are good watches for Halloween. ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ follows an actual witch, one who’s primary transportation is a broom, and her black cat Jiji. ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ follows several wizards and witches, and also includes Calcifer, a fire demon. There’s one movie that stands out as the best Halloween watch from the studio, however. That’s none other than ‘Spirited Away’. While ‘Spirited Away’ absolutely includes the adorable style of all the other films, there’s a lot that’s creepy and unnerving to enjoy in this movie. Between witches, spirits, and genuinely chilling scenes, this movie isn’t out of place among the other must-watches during this season. So if you’re unconvinced, or even if you haven’t seen this movie yet, here’s all the things that make this movie so perfect for you to watch this Halloween.
No-Face: This character is probably the most recognized character from this movie. Even if you haven’t seen this movie before, you’ve probably seen No-Face around. He’s recognized by his strikingly creepy mask-like face and the black nothingness that makes up the rest of his body. While the mask on his face appears to be smiling regularly, it often only adds to how unnerving the character can be. For one, the smile on his face doesn’t actually represent where his mask is. You discover this when he begins to eat the other spirits. It’s actually quite a disturbing scene, and while all of the spirits aren’t harmed by the experience, there’s nothing that can erase the giant No-Face going on a hungry rampage from my mind. No-Face is an endearing character despite how off-putting he can be. He really only wants a friend, which causes him to make some misguided decisions to get the attention of our main character, Chihiro. When he finally is able to befriend her, he’s kind and quiet. No-Face may appear scary, but you can’t help but love him by the end of the movie.
The Witches: Studio Ghibli seems to like the concept of witches. This is also true of this movie. The first witch you see, and the most prominent one, is Yubaba. Yubaba is the owner of the bathhouse for spirits that Chihiro finds herself working at. There’s nothing about Yubaba that isn’t unnerving. She can fly with very little effort, can transform others into pigs, and can move things without touching them. She has a very large head that becomes more terrifying when you see it attached to her pet bird. She has three disembodied heads, the Kashira, that stay in her office and do her bidding. She also has a giant baby named Boh. As the main antagonist, you can’t help but fear the amount of power she possesses as opposed to Chihiro, who is just a normal girl. She isn’t the only witch in ‘Spirited Away’. Yubaba is actually a twin (Watch out for that because we may revisit them). Zeniba is her twin sister. Zeniba is a much kinder witch, though she is no stranger to creating mischief. Zeniba is also shown to be dangerous. She nearly kills Haku for stealing from her. Still, she is quick to forgive and quick to give Chihiro advice when she asks for it. Both witches are delightfully spooky additions to the film.
The Bathhouse: This is the main setting of the film. The film begins with Chihiro’s parents being turned into pigs and Chihiro becoming stranded in the spirit world. In order to hide until she can find a way to escape with her parents, she manages to get a job at Yubaba’s bathhouse. The bathhouse is exclusive to spirits and Chihiro is quick to discover how different a life among spirits is. Many spirits are much larger than her, have many more appendages, and care very little for her well being. She’s tasked with learning how to help clean spirits while trying to figure out how to turn her parents back into humans so she can escape the spirit world. The entire experience makes her a more responsible and capable person. The regularly demanding and frightening spirits bother her less and less while she begins to prioritize her family and friends more. While the atmosphere of the bathhouse never becomes less scary, the main character becomes less effected by it as the film goes on. The unnerving bathhouse plays a major role in showing the audience how far Chihiro has come by the end of the movie.
The Animation: I don’t really have to tell you this about a Studio Ghibli movie, but I’m going to anyway. This movie is gorgeous. I find it especially important to gush about the animation in ‘Spirited Away’ because the movie wouldn’t be nearly as unsettling as it is without the animation. Yubaba is scary because you can see every single wrinkle on her overlarge face. No-Face is frightening because he can appear either cute or terrifying depending on his body language alone. Every spirit in the movie is unique and just off enough to convince you that they shouldn’t exist in the real world. The colors of the spirit world are vibrant and pretty. They’re so beautiful, in fact, that you don’t question it at all when the human characters are so drawn to it that they become trapped. The movie lulls you into a sense of comfort with it’s breathtaking animation. It makes the frightening moments in this movie even more surprising when they occur.
‘Spirited Away’ is one of my favorite Studio Ghibli films, but that isn’t why I’m recommending it for the Halloween season. It has plenty of qualities that many value in their regular family-friendly Halloween movies. It has spirits, witches, frightening transformations, and a strong female lead. Still, I don’t see anyone mention it around spooky season. So I’m mentioning it to you, instead. Watch this movie this October. Whether you’ve been looking for an excuse to re-watch this movie or you genuinely want another movie to add to your list of Halloween movies, ‘Spirited Away’ is worth a watch this month. Maybe if enough people make this movie part of their Halloween traditions, we can get No-Face the recognition he deserves for managing to terrify me while I’m in my twenties.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!