Spirited Away – Disarming Consumerism through Detail and Patience

‘The Problem’ with Popcorn Roulette is that when I ask guests to come on the show, they tend to recommend one of their favorite movies. And if my guest loves a movie, I probably think that movie is great too. Which means I often find myself in the odd position of constantly writing positive reviews.

And positive reviews are demanding! A bad review is easy. Grab one loose string and tug. Watch as the sweater untangles into a pile of yarn, and report on the damage. Crack a few jokes. You don’t even need to feel bad about it. If the movie is truly bad, then finding something wrong with it is catharsis. It feels like progress, because now we better understand how things went wrong.

But what can you say about a nigh perfect movie like Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away that hasn’t already been said one hundred times before? In our discussion, Jon and I dug into a negative opinion from a very small minority (that the movie contains a messy Act II) and I feel bad for having done it. It’s like criticizing the perfect hamburger for being greasy. Of course it is; it’s a hamburger! It wouldn’t be as moist and savory without it! Likewise, Act II of Spirited Away features a playful story mosaic. It’s brilliant in how cohesive it is for what feels like an assortment of ‘random events’, which are in reality parables about work ethic, selflessness, and identity. And the fact that Jon and I forgot some of this in our conversation speaks multitudes about how Hayao Miyazaki layers an excellent story; one that becomes even greater in hindsight.

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