How Disney changed the ending of Spirited Away for American audiences

Spirited Away - Studio Ghibli
Spirited Away - Studio Ghibli /

Sprited Away is regarded as one of the most magical animated films of all time. The beloved movie takes many on an awe-inspiring journey of a hidden town where a single day is filled with the adventure of a lifetime, and it’s no wonder why everyone who watches the movie tends to feel as if they have transcended to another universe completely.

To this day, audiences everywhere are left wholly content with this Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece.

From the start of the movie where Chihiro Ogino finds herself frustrated with her life, to the middle of Spirted Away where we meet many intriguing new friends and foes, each with their own dynamic personalities, to the perfect ending of the film where our protagonist is left changed by an experience that she doesn’t remember having experienced in the first place, this remarkable movie left film buffs and anime fans impressed by its amazing storytelling.

Though the ending of Spirited Away was without flaw, it seems that there exists another version of the film where the ending has been changed greatly, and the culprit is a rather familiar household name.

Disney changes the ending of Spirited Away entirely with one very minor line

According to CBR, the English-dubbed version of the movie broadcasted in the United States was vastly different from the original Japanese version in that the English dubbing added a line spoken by Chihiro at the end of the film—“I think I can handle it”.

As we all know, at the end of the film, Chihiro, unfortunately, does not exactly remember everything she went through. However, the six-worded sentence above implies that she does, in fact, recall what transpired in the fantastical city.

Photo: Spirited Away.. Image Courtesy Studio Ghibli, Fathom Events
Photo: Spirited Away.. Image Courtesy Studio Ghibli, Fathom Events /

Though it may be a slight difference only seen at the ending, the new line, in turn, actually changes the middle of the film as well since Chihiro notably started forgetting minor details about what and who she has encountered halfway through the movie.

Adding this line would add a slight continuity error in the second half of the movie, which, to enthusiasts of the film, ruins the impressive storytelling skills Spirited Away distinctly has.

Disney‘s cited “closure” as their reasoning for the adding of the new line, believing that Chihiro telling her father that she is confident that she can face the uncertainties and the unknowns of her life ties up every and all loose ends. But did Miyazaki have any loose ends to begin with?

Hayao Miyazaki made it a point to end the film with Chihiro’s amnesia to hone in on the theme of transformation being an internal change rather than external. If she remembers everything that she saw physically, then it may distract her from what she’s learned within.

There may be those that prefer that she does recall her experience, however, Miyazaki already let fans know that Chihiro could have her memories return to her when she’s older—truly tying up all loose ends.

Whether you prefer the original ending or the changed ending, one thing remains true…Spirted Way is a legendary film that can go through many revisions and still be one of the best-animated movies of all time.

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