ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Spirited Away (2002), PG
Analysis Date: October 15, 2002
CAP Score: 64
CAP Influence Density: 1.02

MinMax: -100

Spirited Away (2002) CAP Mini-thermometers

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

SPIRITED AWAY (PG) -- This is not an Aesop's fable with a moral to the story.

Production: Walt Disney Pictures
Distribution: Buena Vista International
Director(s): Hayao Miyazaki
Producer(s): English Language Version: Donald W. Ernst, Lori Korngiebel. Executive Producer US: John Lasseter. Toshio Suzuki, Yasuyoshi Tokuma
Written by/Screenplay: English Version: Cindy Davis Hewitt, Donald H. Hewitt. Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Jô Hisaishi, Yumi Kimura
Film Editing: Takeshi Seyama
Production Design: Norobu Yoshida
Art Direction: Youji Takeshige

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)) will not be shown in my house. It is certainly good anime and even better story telling, but the story it has to tell is dark and sinister. Masterful support from each character is used efficiently to build on the feeling of empathy for the characters. Even for a witch and all the unholy critters serving her in a bathhouse for the spirits. This is not an Aesop's fable with a moral to the story. It is the battle between good and evil, with evil having the greatest portion of power and presence.

Spirited Away is praised for its environmentalism heart. For example, Okutaresama the river spirit, comes as a smelly, slimy sludge slug and is cleaned up and returned to his river. But sorcery and witchcraft is used to do it such as that presented in Fantasia when Mickey chopped the broom up in little pieces which flooded the room and the sorcerer had to use his magic to clean up the mess but a little more addressed to an older child's sense of reality. What kind of message is that sending our kids? It is hard enough to help our youth believe in anything pure and noble then along comes more goodness by evil [Isa 5:20], when the hero is an apparition himself. And, of course, the hero is not one of the parents. Indeed, in this and many other items of modern entertainment, the parents are puppets and pawns; necessary evils.

Ten year old Chihiro (voice of Daveigh Chase) and her parents are traveling to their new home in the suburbs. And Chihiro does not want to go. Dad, thinking he knows a lot about roadways, takes a back road he thought would take them to their new home. They could see their new home, a blue house, from the bottom road they were on earlier. Instead, the road became an alley which became two parallel cow paths to end at the entrance of a tunnel. Brave and mighty Dad decided to take a look.

On the other side of the tunnel the family discovered what dad called an abandoned amusement park. Everything was in disrepair and appeared to be non-functional. Except for the food court. A king's feast was available for the taking. And that is what mom and dad did. Chihiro, for some reason, thought it was wrong to eat the food but mom and dad kept eating and eating and eating. Soon the both of them "literally" turned into pigs. Now, Chihiro is on her own.

After exploring for a few moments, Chihiro found a bridge to what appeared to be activity. A young lad named Haku (voice of Jason Marsden) advised Chihiro what she must do to get her parents back. On the other side of the bridge was a bathhouse for spirits, ruled by Yubaba (voice of Suzanne Pleshette) the witch. It was Yubaba that turned Chihiro's parents into pigs. Chihiro finds that to get her parents back she must get a job in the "spirit world" of Yubaba where humans are not at all welcome. Chihiro finds companionship and protection in teenage and likewise human Lin (Susan Egan) ... or is she? But Chihiro's job was working for the boilerman, Kamaji (David Ogden Stiers), an eight limbed crusty old man - a crusty old man at first anyway but later becomes an ally for Chihiro. And that is of the positive features of this 100% animated film. Another positive feature portrayed in this film is that kindness to others begets camaraderie, even in the face of evil. Another might be that once the dirt and filth are cleaned from our lives, the purity may be seen and flourish. There are other positive elements but the price to be paid to get to them is cheapening of the whole.

Many of the characters are of nightmare features and proportions. Yubaba is one. She is one who is about 80% head and about 30% of her face is nose. Another 40% is eyes. much like one of those coffee mugs that are all head that sit on feet with no body at all. Yubaba's sister, a "good witch" is a carbon copy by appearances. Together they form the "good witch - bad witch" pair of Wizard of Oz. Strange how these children's tales present good witches and bad witches when there is nothing in the Bible I can find by which a witch of any kind could be called "good." Witches, whether using their talents for good purposes or bad, still serve evil since a witch's "power" does not come from God. And if the power does not come from God... Maybe such an entertainment token is a challenge to the righteous and the righteous-believing. Maybe it is just another little piece of the bait in Acts 20:30.

Yubaba has three familiars and each is just a head. Nothing more. Just a head with intense eyes. Maybe they serve as a mockery of the three monkeys of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" fame and are "snitches" for Yubaba, seeing evil, hearing evil and speaking evil to her. Of the other critters that infest the bathhouse for the spirits, they that have faces have grossly exaggerated features as well, except for the females it seems. Yubaba also has a baby of Paul Bunion proportions who eventually is changed into a fat rat. But until then the viewer is treated repeatedly to his posterior in such a way as to make it clear the filmmakers wanted his posterior nudity to be a huge contributor to his time on the screen .... in a huge way. Camera angle helped the obviousness of the intent. Baby bottom filled the screen obliterating all other characters.

While earning scores equivalent to G-rated movies in three of the six CAP investigation areas in the CAP baseline database of movies and PG in one, Spirited Away earned scores equivalent to some R-rated movies in Wanton Violence/Crime and Offense to God. Issues of violence include three animated disembodied heads, consumption of personified characters, threats of harm to a child and a great fall stopped by witchcraft. Matters of offense to God include much witchcraft activity to manipulate others (control, threaten, change), many floating apparitions, shape-shifting by witchcraft, many threats by unholy force and casting spells [Deut. 18:10 - 12, 2Chr. 33:6, Gal. 5:19 - 21, Rev. 21:8, Rev. 22:14-15]. Spirited Away earned a final score of 64 which places it three points into the scoring range earned by PG-13 movies (67 to 55 out of 100), mostly because of the Offense to God elements (witchcraft, shape-shifting, spell casting, etc.) which are apparently not incorporated into the reasoning of the MPAA, thus revealing the very useful feature of the CAP analysis model to identify not simply that ignominy exists in a movie but where the ignominy actually lies.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Isa. 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
  • Acts 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men [people] arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
  • Deut. 18:10 - 12 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.
  • 2Chr. 33:6 He [Manasseh, king of Jerusalem for fifty-five years, starting at 12 years old] sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger.
  • Gal. 5:19 - 21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Rev. 21:8 But the [unforgiven] cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
  • Rev. 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city [Heaven]. For without [outside Heaven] are dogs, and [the unforgiven] sorcerers [those who practice magic arts including witches, warlocks, wizards, etc.], and whoremongers [the sexually immoral], and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

    *******Food for Daily Thought*******
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it]. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Spirited Away (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • a boy forcing a berry into the mouth of a little girl
  • danger of a fall from great heights
  • bounding disembodied heads
  • consumption of characters by another
  • potentially lethal risk-taking by a child to rescue someone
  • threat to kill
  • threats of harm
  • threat to child, repeatedly
  • great fall stopped by witchcraft

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • adolescent sass to parents
  • little girl running off alone in a strange place and mom/dad letting her
  • greed
  • gluttony

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • obvious focus on human nudity using a baby's posterior as the vehicle, repeatedly

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • "Saki is on the house"

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • shrines for spirits
  • apparitions, many, repeatedly
  • mother/father changing into pigs
  • little girl turning transparent
  • bird with human head (witch)
  • "In the name of wind and water within thee, unbind her. Get up!"
  • spell mumbo jumbo and spell casting repeatedly
  • magic to manipulate others (control, threaten, change)
  • thought casting
  • unholy manifestations, e.g., levitation for sinister/evil purposes, repeatedly
  • threats by unholy force, repeatedly
  • shape-shifting, repeatedly
  • magic to manufacture
  • presence of witch, repeatedly, humbling the practitioner occasionally for effect

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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