kidnapped I got out in 2001, when I was 8 years old. After watching it in a Japanese cinema, I stumbled into a wall of late summer heat, shaken by what I had just seen: the strange transformation of parents into pigs, the faceless vomiting beasts, the development of a crying girl into a brave heroine. The way a dragon could be a witch boy and also a river, how the story seemed to be held together through connection and magic. However, I also felt the need to return to the cold darkness, sit in the upholstered seat and plunge into director Hayao Miyazaki’s world, enjoying it over and over again.
That summer was my first time back to Japan since my family moved to the United States earlier that year. Everything seemed charged and fragile. after vision kidnappedI turned my anxiety on to the movie, somewhat confident I’d never see it again, at least not in the States. castle in the sky In the local rural Illinois blockbuster, Anna Paquin’s tone was ringed by Cheetah’s voice.
Fortunately I was wrong: 14 months later, kidnapped It was released in the United States in just 26 theaters, and grossed $450,000 in its opening weekend with minimal promotion. By comparison, the film spent 11 weeks at the top of the Japanese box office. But months after its US premiere 20 years ago, kidnapped It became the first and only Japanese film to win Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. The once niche movie became a huge hit. By the end of 2003, the film had been shown on more than 700 American screens, and had grossed over $10 million.
never seen kidnapped In the theater again, instead of re-watching it in the homes of American friends and family members. One memorable winter break, I played an episode in my parents’ basement, fell asleep and woke up when the movie was over and the DVD menu came out. Since the movie gained fame after its initial theatrical release, by the time Americans wanted to watch it, they already had the option to rent it or buy it on VHS and DVD. I can always count on seeing Chihiro staring at me wistfully from the shelves of video stores, or on being able to refer to Miyazaki in casual conversation as, “You know, the guy who made this movie.” kidnapped.“
still between kidnappedThe video store was ubiquitous and today, it’s been 18 years since Blockbuster has gone out of business and the only way to watch Miyazaki’s movies was to buy a physical copy. Now Americans can watch Studio Ghibli movies on HBO Max whenever they want. When I first read that the streaming platform had secured the rights to all Ghibli movies, I emailed the article to my husband with the title “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” And so began a new era of rewatching Studio Ghibli, not as the occasional treat but as a familiar ritual, and I’ve learned that these jewel-like films take on a new luster when you revisit. For me, re-watch kidnapped Not experiencing stability in a soothing story. Instead, each viewing is an opportunity to notice new icons and consider new narrative possibilities.
Twenty years ago, I would only be able to sum up the main plot points for you kidnappedA girl finds herself in a spiritual realm and must work in a bathroom run by a witch in order to save her parents who have turned into pigs. Perhaps I can also tell you about the singular moments that burned themselves in my mind: the scene in which Chihiro, given the new name Sen, sighs, eating onigiri under tall flowering bushes, drowning as the truth of her solitude sinks. Or a sequence Where No Face, a dark soul that follows Chihiro on her journey into the spirit world, resurrecting a tidal wave of black viscosity. Or the wonderful scenes that take place on the train line of the mysterious, pensive, sad, and somewhat suspenseful experience of crossing the River Styx after death.
But only now can I tell you about the fabric of the world created by Miyazaki – for example, the flashing neon signs advertising pork in the corridor where Chihiro’s parents turn into pigs. While re-watching one recently in dual feature with Howl’s Moving CastleI noticed Yubaba, the witch who put Chihiro to work, chose to dress in gaudy western clothes despite her surroundings in an Asian bath, similar to what Miyazaki later introduced howling Waste witch either way, he uses Western women’s methods to accentuate their tasteless greed. On another occasion, I realize that Rin, the young bath-worker who becomes Sen’s friend and mentor, shares a similarity with Lady Eboshi in Prince Mononoke and satsuki from My neighbor Totoro—All fit the archetype of the Ghibli Big Sister. Only on re-watching did I begin to see and appreciate the connections between the characters in the Miyazaki Cinematic Universe.
without mode kidnapped In the background as I fold the laundry, I would never have noticed that the movie begins not with a picture or a title card but with a sound: the unresolved Jo Hisaishi sequence before Miyazaki lets us see his animation, asking us to consider the supernatural and tempting world we are about Enter it with a moment of music. On the last episode of the podcast the pilesWriter Ingrid Rojas Contreras spoke of hearing recurring stories from her mother: “When someone tells you a story over and over, the details of world-building begin to emerge.” and so does kidnapped The change when revisited, from interaction with narrative and plot to momentary immersion in a fictional, yet somewhat familiar world. Now, as an adult, I remember my childhood horror in No Face, even as I’m curious by his blank, smiling face. I revisit these former selves scattered throughout the film, and salute them as I notice new things and delve deeper.
Then again, it’s an odd time to consider the continuing power of animation, given that HBO Max has unofficially wiped 36 animated shows off its platform. Specifically, I’m thinking of infinity trainAnd the A four-season series written by Owen Dennis, each season follows a character who finds themselves on an endless magical train. When I first watched the series, it was reconnects kidnapped And Miyazaki was pretty clear: There’s Steward, a terrifying No Face-like robot. There is the main character in the first season, Tulip, who is a brave but unhappy girl who is trying to adapt to a major change in life, just like Chihiro. Then there is the unexplained train itself.
While streaming is what turned Studio Ghibli films into everyday admiration for me, it now forces me to think again about the fragility of media when it relies on the whims of its distributor to exist. infinity trainalong with many other anime titles, It was tossed in the safe as an obvious cost-cutting measure, an outcome not unlike the lost years following the Blockbuster shutdown. I watched the four seasons of infinity train Once through, he marveled. Naively, I assumed that because the show was hosted on a streaming device, I’d give some time to go back and dive into Dennis’ world, to notice the universe behind the main story line.
Instead, it left me with an old, ephemeral feeling, worried about something I might never see again. I wonder about the sad train running through the water tracks kidnapped. If I watch it carefully enough, I might notice other universes you enter, even those of shows like infinity train. For now, I let the train car, with its burgundy seats and mysterious agents, fill my view, and Chihiro and No Face stare at me again.