Sen to Chihiro no
|Synopsis - Page 2|
The boy leads Chihiro across the bridge to the ornate building, warning her not to breathe lest the attendants see her. As she resolutely clings to him, he announces to the attendants that he has returned, and all seems to be going well. They pass all manner of creatures along the bridge without incident, until the end is in sight. With only a few steps left, a little frog jumps at him in welcome, startling Chihiro who lets out a gasp. The frog suddenly realises her presence. The boy throws a spell on him, and he and Chihiro absolutely fly to a side door before the frog can recover. When he wakes up, they are long gone.
Nevertheless, there is uproar in the grounds as the residents now smell the human and are searching for Chihiro and calling for the boy whose name can be heard as "Master Haku". Although Chihiro is desolate that she failed to hold her breath all the way, Haku nevertheless reassures her that she did well, and that he will distract them so she can escape. Although once again anxious at being left alone, Haku tells her she has no choice if she is to save herself and her parents, too. He sends images into her mind, showing her the way to the boiler room, where she has to ask "Kamaji" for work, lest she be turned into an animal by "Yubaba", the sorceress who rules over them. Even though Kamaji will try to deny her, she must persist in seeking work, to have a chance against Yubaba. He bids Chihiro farewell, surprising her by knowing her name, and telling her that he has known her since she was little.
Haku is called to Yubaba, and Chihiro is left alone. She creeps out the back gate, and notices that train once again passing by far below. She tentatively heads down the steps to the boiler room, but when one breaks, she finds herself hurtling down towards the boiler room at a frightening pace, her perilous descent comedically halted by a brick wall.
Making her way inside, Chihiro spies a huge furnace, fed by coal carried across the floor by an odd regiment of wispy black ball-like creatures. Grinding a selection of herbs is an even odder sight - an old man with many arms. He taps his gavel and the soot-sprites disappear into little entrances beneath the floor. Chihiro screws up the courage to approach him, but just then a set of little tablets drops from a chute and he calls the soot-sprites back to work, telling her that he has enough helpers, easily replaced. As Chihiro avoids the scurrying sprites and Kamaji's multiple arachnoid limbs, she notices a sprite overburdened by a lump of coal. Picking it up to release the sprite, she is at a loss to know what to do when it scuttles off. Kamaji roars at her to continue, so she feeds the coal into the furnace. The soot-sprites realise that she has saved one of them a bit of work, and they all start to drop coal onto themselves, hoping for some assistance. Kamaji reminds them that the spell will wear off and they will be turned back into mere soot if they cease work, and tells Chihiro that there are no jobs for her. The soot-sprites seem to rally around her, though.
The confrontation is broken up by a girl who brings meals for Kamaji and the soot-sprites. She notices Chihiro and exclaims that she's in trouble - she's the one they're looking for. Kamaji surprises Chihiro by telling the girl that Chihiro is his granddaughter, and asks that she be taken to Yubaba. Bribing the girl with a roasted newt, Kamaji tells Chihiro that she will have to make a deal with Yubaba if she wants work. The girl angrily orders Chihiro around, telling her to leave her shoes and thank Kamaji, who wishes her luck.
As the girl whisks Chihiro via a series of elevators up the tall building, Chihiro gets a glimpse of some of the goings-on - food being prepared, odd creatures soaking in steamy pools, and a large creature shaped like a plump radish who wants to catch the elevator up with them. Chihiro shrinks back from a rather grotesque bunch of characters exiting an elevator, although they are merely being shown to their room. Before she can get into the elevator, the girl Lin is accosted by a large frog-creature who tells her he can smell a tasty human and accuses her of hiding something. Chihiro quickly hides behind the large radish-spirit as he enters the elevator, while Lin distracts the frog with the sight of the newt-delicacy.
Alone in the elevator with the large impassive spirit, Chihiro notices a corridor lined with mysterious shadows and the sounds of partying at the first stop. The elevator finally stops on the top floor, where Chihiro respectfully bids her large companion adieu. At the end of the elaborately-decorated corridor is a bird emblem marked with the word "Yu". Pulling on the door handle earns Chihiro a rebuke from the doorknocker, but a series of doors nevertheless opens inwards for her. Bid closer by the voice of an unseen old lady, Chihiro is drawn forcibly by an unseen energy along the heavily-decorated corridors before finally falling onto a rug in front of a fireplace. Greeted by three green bouncing heads, Chihiro sees the old lady and asks for work, although this outburst is rewarded by a spell that zips her lips. Yubaba tells Chihiro that the bathhouse of the gods is no place for a weak little human, whose parents gobbled the guests' food like pigs, and that she will never see her world again. Questioning Chihiro about her unknown helper, Yubaba is enraged by Chihiro's insistent request for work. Belittling Chihiro as lazy and spoilt, Yubaba offers her only the dirtiest job until the day she dies.