Comparing the Shojo character of Chihiro (Sen) from Miyazaki's Spirited Away with the character Alice from Disney's Alice in Wonderland

Essay by jemworldUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2004

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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 the

variety 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 typical

female 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. It

was 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 that

status 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...