Lately, I’ve been dwelling on allusions I’ve seen in films; and Spirited Away has really stuck out to me. I haven’t read Alice in Wonderland for a long time, but the characters have really stuck with me and I’ve started seeing some similarities between these two works and the first thing I recognized were some of the same major themes and character archetypes throughout the movie.
Immediately, the characters of Chihiro, Yubaba, and Kamaji stood out to me as representations of Alice, The Red Queen, and The Mad Hatter. Of course, there is also the idea of travelling to another world by tunnel and experiencing trials and tribulations that transform our hero; from a naive girl to a brave woman as the stories progress. Now, Haku’s character is very complex; he possesses characteristics of three different characters - the griffin (a servant to the queen who befriends Alice), the cheshire cat (who befriends Alice and guides her through Wonderland, though does so through vague instruction), and the Knave of Hearts (a servant that has been accused of stealing from the queen). However, the griffin is a minor character and the Knave is an antagonist - and Haku is neither. Going forward, I just want to state that I am not trying to directly compare Haku to Cheshire. Yubaba’s heads are very similar to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum for obvious reasons; they are assistants and subordinates to the queen. The queen’s sister, the Duchess, is very much like Zeniba, but the actual Duchess is much more overbearing than we see Zeniba to be. I had to include the frog footman, of course, because this is a dead-ringer reference to Alice in Wonderland, even if it isn’t meant to be (as frogs are simply a major symbol in Japanese mythology).
Characters I didn’t include, however, align with minor characters and have slightly more differences than similarities, but I thought I’d mention them, anyway. Lin, a friend of Kamaji’s, would be best represented as the March Hare, the teatime friend of Hatter. No-Face was very hard to tie down to a character from Alice in Wonderland, but as a character who shows favoritism towards Chihiro, I thought the Mock Turtle was very close to the character of No-Face, but he also has characteristics that can easily be connected to the pigeon of Alice in Wonderland, who Alice mistakes for a snake (just as Chihiro mistook Noface for a customer), but the pigeon did not leave as large of a stain in the story like No-Face did. Although there is no character that connects to the white rabbit, the statues Chihiro sees on her way into the spirit world are indicators of a breadcrumb trail to lead her into it, but don’t hold the same meaning.
Much of Spirited Away holds symbols from Japanese legends, gods and mythologies as well, so the archetypes of these characters don’t match up as perfectly as some might think, but there are definitely similarities in the story. The spirit world, filled with nothing but restaraunts, as realized by Chihiro and her parents, bares similarities to the forest of Wonderland, where much of the plants are food - and the room Alice first enters tempts her with ‘Eat me!’ and ‘Drink me!’ as well; the only difference is one helps while the other harms, in each story.
I simply thought I’d share a part of my analysis in words with you all. I hope this was eye-opening for you all!