Thanks to KK over at BABS, I now have Miyazaki on the brain. In the US I think most everybody knows "Spirited Away", and some who really loved that film (like KK and my sis) went out and watched all the Studio Ghibli movies they could get a hold of. But before starting down the slippery slope of Miyazaki geekiness, and telling you every little thing I love about Tonari no Totoro, I'd like to put out a question first.
As it happens, I have never watched any of these films in English. I watch them with my kids, so of course we watch them in Japanese. What I'm wondering about, for those who have only watched the English version, or who watched the subtitled version without knowing Japanese, is this: Did you get how Chihiro's name was changed from Chihiro to Sen? Watch the trailer below, because it briefly shows that scene. Then, if you don't mind, please let me know in the comments how you understood it. Thanks! First time commenters welcome! I'm just curious whether Non-Japanese-speaking audiences understood that scene the way Japanese-speaking audiences did. Thanks to all who indulge my curiosity and take a moment to reply!
After I get some comments, I'll update this post and tell you how that scene is understood in Japanese:))
First--thanks to all who responded:)) And congratulations to Falen--you pretty much got how Chihiro came to be called Sen. Yes, it's to do with the Kanji of her name--and Ezmirelda, even though you "only" know 20 Kanji, you probably know this one: 千 (hope everybody's PCs can read that). Yubaba takes only 3 of the 4 Kanji that make up Chihiro's name--the two of her last name and the second of her first name. She leaves on the page the first Kanji of her first name, the "chi" part. Her names translates (loosely) as "a thousand murmurs". The Kanji I put up there is read "chi" in the Japanese reading and in names. On it's own, it's read as "Sen", which is the Chinese reading, and it's the number 1000. Yubaba has simply switched from the Japanese to the Chinese reading of the character, so the new name "Sen" isn't arbitrary. It's a great choice of name for her character, though, since that Kanji is a number--it's as though she's been given a number rather than a name, and it increases the sense that she is being imprisoned. I also get the feeling (although I've never heard Miyazaki say this, so maybe it's just my idea) that it's an oblique reference to the Thousand and One Arabian Nights, since Chihiro offers herself to Yubaba as a worker in order to *not* be turned into a pig and to give herself time to figure out how to escape the twilight world. And just as I wrote the word "twilight", I realize that Miyazaki has depicted the Goetterdaemerung--the Twilight of the Gods.
Thanks again to those who responded ! And I'm pleased as punch to know that most of my commenters are as big a Miyazaki fan as I am:))
And to anybody reading this who has never seen Spirited Away ("Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi"), run don't walk! Put it in the Netflix cue, get it from Blockbuster, nick it from your neighbor, but don't go another minute without seeing this film. They had the presence of mind in Berlin to award this film Best Picture (not Best Animated Picture, note).
Did you see that? Did you see how he drew the children scrubbing the wooden floors, running up and down with rags? He didn't make that up--that's exactly how wooden flooring is cleaned. Japanese elementary kids do it like that every day at school--my kids, too. That's how he brings his wild flights of fancy to life--they are grounded in concrete reality. Sorry--geek rant over. Enjoy!:))