Spirited Away (synopsis - graphical - Page 3)

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This page contains a detailed synopsis of the plot of Spirited Away.

Spoiler Warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Suddenly, they are interrupted by a gigantic crying baby who kicks in the door. Distracted by her infant son Bou, Yubaba hands Chihiro a contract as she cleans up the room, threatening to turn her into a pig if she complains. While Yubaba frets about the oath she took to give work to whomever asks, she even finds fault with the name Chihiro signs to the contract, magically lifting the characters off the page until all that is left is the name "Sen". Yubaba sends for someone to take Sen to work, and it is Haku who appears, although strangely distant. Haku takes her to the staff, who recoil from the human smell. Haku hands her over to a reluctant Lin.

When Lin and Sen reach their room, Lin surprises Sen by rejoicing in her victory over Yubaba. As Lin assigns Sen her work clothes and warns her that Haku is Yubaba's servant, disappointment overcomes Sen and she starts to feel faint from all the excitement.

Sen Follows Haku Through the Garden

Sen Follows Haku Through the Garden Up on the top floor, Haku and the green heads watch as Yubaba transforms and joins her human-faced bird in flight, following the railway line into the distance. As day breaks, Sen is shivering, sleepless in the quarters. Someone quietly steals into the room and whispers for Sen to meet at the bridge, where she will be shown her parents. She sneaks out to the boiler room, where the soot-sprites bring her the shoes and socks she'd left behind. She makes her way back to the bridge, where one of the masked spirits from the previous night is standing. Sen resolutely walks past him, and when she turns around, he is gone. Haku leads Sen through the gardens to the pig-pens, where he tells a despairing Sen that her parents don't even remember being human. Sen calls to them with her new name, but they do not respond. Haku returns Sen's clothes, in which she finds the farewell card from her friends. Seeing her true name, Chihiro realises the power that Yubaba had over her, and Haku tells her to keep her name (and clothes) hidden, saying that if Yubaba steals her name, she can never escape. Haku grimly reveals that he himself no longer remembers his own name, although he is cheered by the odd fact that he remembered Chihiro's name. Haku unwraps some rice-balls that he has enchanted, for Chihiro to regain her strength. In the face of this generosity, Chihiro's emotions finally flood her eyes with tears as she eats her fill. Haku leaves a much more confident Sen to find her own way back to the bathhouse, and she looks back to see a long white serpent with a green mane making its way through the sky. She heads back towards the bathhouse, followed unnoticed by the faceless masked spirit from the bridge.

Back in the bathhouse, Sen curls up on the floor in the bathhouse, as Kamaji tenderly covers her up. Yubaba and her bird return to the bathhouse in the rain as dusk falls and the bathhouse livens up again. Lin chides Sen for her absence, and the bathhouse begins its preparations for its next influx of guests. The inexperienced Sen of course struggles, and things are made worse by being assigned by Yubaba to the "big bath". As Sen empties her washing tub outside, she spots the masked spirit standing in the rain, and compassionately lets him in.

Sen Refuses Kaonashi's Offer

Sen is told that the big bath is reserved for the dirtiest guests, as she and Lin clean the sludge from the walls and floor. Sen is sent to fetch an herbal soak tag from the foreman, while Yubaba senses something unusual approaching. Something dark and foul moves through the streets of the town, but all the shops close up at its approach. While Sen is refused a herbal soak tag by the foreman, the ghostly faceless spirit appears behind the foreman, and when the foreman is distracted by a call from Yubaba (ironically warning about an intruder she's sensed), the spirit invisibly hands a tag to Sen. Lin sends the tag down to Kamaji, and shows Sen how to operate the water funnel for the bath. Sen notices the faceless spirit standing in the corner. He offers her a whole stack of tags, but she refuses so many, He drops them in front of her and disappears again.

The bath has overflowed while Sen was distracted, but the rest of the bathhouse is in an uproar as they realise that the foul stink-god is headed for the bathhouse. Despite protestations from the staff, the stink-god approaches the bathhouse, although Yubaba is suspicious of its true character. Yubaba assigns Lin and Sen the job of looking after this putrescent mass (whose stench is so vile it shrivels Lin's dinner in her bowl), while the other guests are hurriedly shepherded away. The stink-god's first plunge into the bath doesn't seem to wash anything off, so Sen calls for more herbal soak, using the pile of tags left by the faceless spirit - much to the bemusement of Yubaba and the foreman, who can't understand where she got the tags from. Sen slips into the bath while refilling it, but the stink-god pulls her out and draws her attention to an object embedded in the muck. Sen calls out that a thorn is stuck in his side, but Yubaba senses something more, and with the aid of a rope, the staff pull out a bicycle! Yubaba gets them to redouble their efforts, and eventually a huge pile of rubbish pours out. Sen is congratulated by the spirit, which envelops her in a watery embrace, and leaves a small round ball in her hands. As the steam clears, specks of gold left behind by the spirit spark a stampede by the staff. This goes to show just how valuable Sen's care of the guest was, and the guest is revealed to be a River God, who has now been cleansed and flies like a white serpent back through the sky to his home. This scene does not go unnoticed by the faceless spirit, who quietly disappears again.

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