Spirited Away: An Experience

Words by Oliver Morris

So I have this friend who’s kinda pretentious. He reads multiple translations of Nietzsche, he has aphorisms that he’s yet to write the book for, and he’s a hare’s breadth from wearing an ascot unironically. One day he sent me a picture of a t-shirt which in turn had an image of a strange masked man, or perhaps a strange masked shadow, offering me nuggets of gold.

I had no idea what I was looking at. He explained that it was from ‘Spirited Away’, I said ‘What’s ‘Spirited Away’? to which he promptly organised an afternoon for us to watch it. He sat me down on his beaten up couch, handed me a weird orange flavoured beer, and set put on the original dub with English subtitles.

This was three months ago.

I find it very difficult to explain the stuff that happened in between Chihiro clutching dying flowers to her chest and the moment I was re-awoken by the DVD title screen. Something… happened in the middle. I’ve never been able to place it. I wasn’t just watching Chihiro, I was her in a sense. Everytime Chihiro was fearful, tearful, greatful or brave, I was too.

Everytime she held her breath or held her own, I did too.  And as one, we were thrust into this adventure, overwelmed by this adventure and accepted this adventure. There are moments where I was not in a godforsaken hole in East Hill, drinking warm beer and being subject to derisive analysis by the less insightful guest, and I was there. I was  in the tunnel, on the bridge, in the baths, on the platform or the train. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t animated, or didn’t speak the language. I was there.

I highly recommend anyone who’s never watched ‘Spirited Away’ to turn off their internet, their phone, find a quiet place and just experience it. When the credits finally came to a close, I was catatonic.I had nothing to say, to express because it was all too real, all too quick, and all too much. All I could do was turn to my friend, who had offered me this couch, this beer and this whole different world and say ‘Thank You’.

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