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5 Wonderful Life Lessons in Spirited Away

Considered one of the best anime to have come out of Japan, Spirited Away (2001) is a masterpiece in storytelling. Directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away took the production house, Studio Ghibli, over a year to perfect.

5 Wonderful Life Lessons in Spirited Away

The film tells the story of a young girl named Chihiro who gets trapped in a magical and dark amusement park with parents. Through hard work and self-reflection, she is able to save her parents and understand who she is in life. Anyone who has ever felt inadequate in life would do well to watch this movie.

5 Wonderful Life Lessons in Spirited Away

The movie teaches you many life lessons, both subtle and clear. In this article, we have selected the five best ones for you. If, after reading this, you are even a tiny bit curious to see the film, we highly encourage you to give it a try. It could very well become one of your favorite movies! 

1. Fear Is a Luxury

We often think that we won’t be able to live up to other people’s expectations. So, we end up shying away from any challenges or discomforts. This movie teaches us that we’re not being realistic in thinking that we’ll fail and therefore shouldn’t try.

In the beginning of the movie, Chihiro is afraid of all the creatures she encounters. She is frightened by how odd they look, but she realizes that being afraid is not going to save her parents. She musters the courage to go ahead, despite her fear, and try to do whatever she can to get themselves back to their world.  

It’s only when we challenge ourselves to perform a task, no matter whether we fail or not, that we realize what we’re capable of. In fact, by being afraid of failing we indulge in a sort of luxury. The luxury of fear is one which gives you a false sense of humility. 

Only by facing our fears do we see that we should always try to help the situation we’re in. No matter what others might think or say, it’s always best to try and fail and learn how to succeed, then not to try at all. 

2. Everyone Else Is Also Trying Their Best and Could Use a Little Help  

We tend to think that the people around us have it all figured out and that we’re the only ones struggling. The truth is, everyone else is just as lost as we are. We’re all in this journey of life together, no one has a cheat sheet or a better guide than anyone else. 

When Chihiro sees the spirit No-Face, as he stands outside the bathhouse in the rain, she feels sorry for it and asks it to come inside. This empathy causes No-Face to take an instant liking to her. She feels that it’s the right thing to do, as she herself could appreciate some kindness from time to time. 

When she sees others being repulsed by a spirit, as it reeks of sewage, she helps the spirit to clean themselves. We are then shown that it is, in fact, the spirit of a river that we ourselves may have polluted. It is these sorts of small details that make the movie so enjoyable. 

It’s not the river spirit’s fault that it’s dirty, all that’s required was a little bit of kindness and help to become clean. That’s something we can all use more of in life.

3. The Importance of Saying Thank You

It’s important that you show your appreciation to others. Even the ones who have caused you distress. The movie shows that even in adversity you should remain true to who you are. You don’t need to change your beliefs depending on the behavior of others.

Chihiro says thank you to all of the characters who have helped her in any way. It shows that she appreciates even the tiniest bit of help she receives. 

She thanks No-Face for accompanying her on her journey, even though all he does is stay by her side, as it makes her feel more at ease. He tries to help her in the best way he can, and that is what she appreciates the most. 

Even the main antagonist of the film, Yubaba, is thanked when she lets Chihiro and her parents go at the end. It teaches us that when others are cruel towards us, we don’t become cruel towards them. We should stand by our principles and be who we are.

4. Things Offered for Free Are Usually Worthless

There is a scene in the movie where No-Face gives all the staff at the bathhouse gold coins for simply attending to him. They all jump on these coins. It’s only when the mistress of the house inspects them that all the coins turn into ash.

No-Face has all the characters in the bathhouse doting over him for the free coins he throws at them. The only one that’s not interested is Chihiro. She has no need for them in her present situation. 

This teaches us to be careful of things that seem precious and are offered to us for free. These things are usually transitory and will leave us without a moment’s notice. Only by working hard in life can we earn things that are precious.

5. Show Yourself the Same Level of Patience You Show Others 

Sometimes we forget to be kind to ourselves. We try our best and when things don’t work out, we get angry for being a failure. 

In the movie, Chihiro is told by her friend Haku that she needs to find a job, otherwise, she will be no different from the animals – which in the context of the movie suggests something much darker.  

When she goes to the boiler man for a job, he laughs at her but she remains determined to get a job. She stays patient with both the boiler man and herself until she is finally given a job. 

When her friend Haku is injured and needs to be healed, she goes to the witch, Zeniba. She tells Chihiro to remember a connection between them to heal Haku. Chihiro tries many times but can’t remember. Finally, she starts to cry thinking that she will fail to save Haku and her parents.

Zeniba tells Chihiro to remain patient and wait a little bit longer. Chihiro finally remembers the connection between her and Haku, and thus saves his life.

We can all do with practicing a little patience.

There are some works of art that become defining moments and teach us real-life lessons. Spirited Away is one such anime, for anyone who has yet to see it, we strongly urge you to go and watch it.

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