Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away: Why Miyazaki Decided to Turn Chihiro's Parents into Pigs
By: Domonique Salberg
Since its inception, Spirited Away has floored audiences young and old. Multifaced, learned, and magical, it has left us both content and eager to uncover more with every viewing. Surely there will always be something to discuss from such a rich film, like why were Chihiro’s parents turned into pigs. So, luckily a Japanese fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece wrote to Studio Ghibli asking for an explanation—who, to her surprise—got a response.
Twitter user @0910noncha went on to ask why the protagonist’s parents turned into pigs, what was the strange food, and how Chihiro managed to pass her final test. Studio Ghibli’s response went on for two pages written by a studio employee. They explained that Chihiro’s parents were turned into pigs because the transformation represented greed during the Japanese recession of the 80s. Later in the letter, they also explain that the transformation was irreversible in order to reflect the nature of greed in the real world. They additionally described that Chihiro knew that none of the pigs in the pen were her parents due to her mindset changing following her experiences in the underworld.
Then ending it by explaining and giving more insight into Chihiro’s imaginative journey. Affirming that the story is not about a girl with a “unique heart” but about a girl who learned to face her fears by developing a greater understanding and gratitude for life.
For the answer to the food Chihiro’s parents ate, check out this article: Ghibli Animator Reveals the Mystery Food Chihiro’s Parents Eat in ‘Spirited Away’