Spirited Away (synopsis - graphical - Page 6)
This page contains a detailed synopsis of the plot of Spirited Away.
Chihiro and her companions finally alight at their stop - a dark, deserted place with only one path. As they travel the path, the mosquito-bird tires from carrying Bou-mouse, so the Bou unselfishly decides to give the bird a ride on his back, spurning an offer to ride on Chihiro's shoulder. Greeted along the way by a hopping lantern (styled as a homage to the character Luxo Jr. produced by John Lasseter's Pixar), they are led to a country cottage where Zeniba invites them in, apparently expecting them. While Zeniba potters around and makes some tea, Chihiro urgently attends to her business by returning Zeniba's seal, and apologising on behalf of Haku. Zeniba is curious to know why Chihiro wasn't harmed while holding it, and Chihiro apologises for squashing the bug that was on the seal. Zeniba is amused, saying that the bug was put into Haku by Yubaba to control him. Chihiro asks Zeniba to change her little friends back, but she tells them the spell was long broken and they could change back if they wished. They decline, and instead have fun driving Zeniba's spinning wheel.
Over tea and cakes, Zeniba relates her differences with her vulgar twin, and says she can't help Chihiro with Haku or her parents, as that's for Chihiro alone. While Chihiro feels that she met Haku a long time ago, she asks Zeniba for some hint as to what she can do, but Zeniba mysteriously tells her that although she can't remember it, what happened is not forgotten. While Zeniba offers to put Chihiro up for the night and her companions help Zeniba with some good old-fashioned non-magical spinning and knitting, Chihiro grows ever more anxious to return, fearing for Haku and her parents. Zeniba gives her a hair band woven from the thread spun by her friends, telling her it will protect her. A rustle at the door alerts Zeniba to another guest. When Chihiro opens the door, she finds a white dragon with a green mane standing there. Chihiro rushes to embrace Haku, while Zeniba forgives him his actions under Yubaba's control. She bids farewell to the mosquito-bird and Bou-mouse, while No-Face stays on with Zeniba, having found his place at last. Chihiro tells Zeniba her real name, and is advised to take care of such a nice name.
Haku soars off with Chihiro and her friends into the moonlit sky, and as she once again grasps Haku's horns and peers out from between those wavy green strands of his mane, her memories well up again - of falling into green water, of a lost shoe, of the story her mother told her about an incident she can't remember, when she fell into a river when she was little. Although that river is now covered up, she remembers its name - the Kohaku River. That must be his real name - Kohaku. Instantly, the scales fall from Haku, and he appears to Chihiro as the boy she first saw. He tells her he remembers his real name - "Nigihayami Kohaku Nushi" - a name, Chihiro says, sounds like that of a god. He also remembers how Chihiro lost her shoe, and fell in, and she recalls how she was carried safely to shallow water. Tears of happiness and gratitude fly from Chihiro's eyes as they fall together through the sky.
As day breaks at the bathhouse, Yubaba paces in front of a selection of pigs. The staff excitedly point out Haku and Chihiro's return. Yubaba demands to see Bou, and is surprised when the mouse turns back into Bou before her eyes. She is even more surprised when she realises he is standing on his own two feet. Haku demands that Yubaba fulfil her side of the deal - but she has one more trick up her sleeve - she cannot break the spell unless the rules are followed. Despite the jeers of her staff and Bou's threat to be angry, Yubaba can't seem to do anything about it. Chihiro volunteers to take the test, which Haku has explained to her. She confidently marches across the bridge to Yubaba, who tells her to pick out her parents from the pigs in front of her. Chihiro is surprised that she can't find her parents at all among the pigs - which is the correct answer. Her contract turns to dust in Yubaba's hand, accompanied by the cheers of the staff.
Yubaba dismisses Chihiro, and Haku takes her hand as they head back to the riverbed - which is now dry once more. He warns her not to look back until safely back out of the tunnel. Although Haku cannot leave with Chihiro, his regained memory of his name will allow him to quit his apprenticeship and return to his own world, with the promise to Chihiro to meet again one day.
Chihiro hurries back down the hill to the empty train waiting room, where her parents are waiting impatiently. Surprised at this total ignorance of all that happened back there, Chihiro starts to look back - but remembers Haku's warning and turns away, her friends' protective hair-band glinting in the sun. Once again we see Chihiro clinging grimly to her mother as they walk through the dark tunnel. When they emerge back at the car, it is covered in leaves and dust as if left there for some time. Chihiro stares in wonderment back at the tunnel, as her parents call her to hurry. One last time, she turns away, her hair-band sparkling in the sun once more, and the tunnel recedes into the distance through the forest as they drive away.