Hayao Miyazaki, one of the biggest Japanese animators, filmmakers, and manga artists is known for a lot of projects that he has been a part of and made them successful. He co-founded Studio Ghibli and has achieved international fame as a great storyteller and developer of Japanese animated feature films. He is widely considered one of the most skilled animators in history. One of his biggest achievements is the 2001 Japanese animated Fantasy film Spirited Away. Spirited Away depicts the narrative of Chihiro Ogino, a ten-year-old girl who discovers the realm of kami while moving to a new neighborhood. Chihiro accepts a job working in Yubaba’s bathhouse after her parents are turned into pigs by the witch Yubaba to discover a means to rescue herself and her parents and return to the human world.
Although, the movie is a fantasy film, the morality and the intention behind the movie was to make it more relatable to the general audience in some sense. This is why Miyazaki was asked to make one small change in the movie that may have achieved the goal.
Hayao Miyazaki’s Co-Workers Asked Him to Make A Change
Hayao Miyazaki in an interview with Midnighteye in 2002 admitted he was asked by his staff to make a small change that would make the audience relate more to the movie. He said:
“I haven’t chosen to just make the character of Chihiro like this, it’s because there are many young girls in Japan right now who are like that. They are more and more insensitive to the efforts that their parents are making to keep them happy. There’s a scene in which Chihiro doesn’t react when her father calls her name. It’s only after the second time he calls that she replies. Many of my staff told me to make it three times instead of two because that’s what many girls are like these days. They don’t immediately react to the call of the parents.”
The small change of Chihiro reacting to her father’s call the third time felt more relatable to the staff as they thought this is how the children react to their parents nowadays.
Hayao Miyazaki Made Spirited Away Relatable for 10-Year-Old Girls
Miyazaki also admitted that he realized while observing his friend’s daughter that there are no films or movies for girls between the ages of 10 and 12 to relate to. This is why he decided to make the film. He said:
“What made me decide to make this film was the realization that there are no films made for that age group of ten-year-old girls. It was through observing the daughter of a friend that I realized there were no films out there for her, no films that directly spoke to her. Certainly, girls like her see films that contain characters their age, but they can’t identify with them, because they are imaginary characters that don’t resemble them at all.”
Originally released in Japan on July 20, 2001, by distributor Toho, the picture gained great acclaim and grossed $395.8 million at the global box office. As a result, it became the highest-grossing picture in Japanese history, grossing a total of $305 million. It retained the record for 19 years.