Back in 2001-2002, japanese film critic Tomohiro Machiyama explained that Miyazaki’s Spirited Away was in fact, about prostitution. In his article, he gave many examples to prove his point, such as “spa = Japanese Soapland“, “spa workers = Yuna = sex workers“, quoting even Miyazaki, supposedly saying “the film is about prostitution“.
Because according to another translation, that’s not really what he said. It seems like Machiyama used this translation;
I believe that this movie is actually about prostitution. Is that what Miyazaki really wants to show a 10 year old girl? Yes. In an interview for the Japanese edition of Premiere magazine, he confesses that Spirited Away is about the sex industry. He said “Traditionally, Japanese morality about sex has been more open and free before Western culture pushed the importance of virtue upon us. Though I don’t mean I want go back to advocate the old Japanese freedom of sex in my new film, I just think that the sex industry is the best thing to represent the reality of today’s Japanese society. Now, the sex industry is everywhere in Japan. And the number of young girls who look like whores is increasing.”
But, someone had the idea to check the original article, and decided to translate it;
Following some comments about Mononoke Hime, the article states, “Unlike the idyllic village in the Muromachi Era or the grand forest, the mysterious town (in Sen) even looks somewhat shady.” Then, the article continues with Miyazaki-San’s quote, “When I was a child, there was literally a red-light district even in Shinjyuku. It is not intentional, but the film depicts the kind of skid road, which is a bit old and we’ve forgotten about. Traditionally, Japanese were open to sex before the Westerners who were appalled by our loose morals and pushed their morality.”
The fan-translator adds that;
Although the article does not state the interviewer’s question, it seems that he asked about the difference between the “idyllic village and the grand forest” in Mononoke and the town in Sen, which contains somewhat “shady” part. And Miyazaki-San’s comment seems to be the answer to the question, explaining that the world in Sen includes such shady part because that was what the old Japan used to have.
Here’s another interesting Pulp quote;
‘… the character of Kaonashi (Faceless), the customer/monster who madly desires Chihiro. He offers her money though she declines. “Kaonashi is Miyazaki himself,” says Toshio Suzuki, the producer of “Sen to Chihiro”, in the Premiere interview. Miyazaki quickly denied in a panic, “No! Not me! Kaonashi is a metaphor for the libido that everybody has secretly has.”‘
And now, remarks from the translator;
There was no words such as “quickly denied”, “panic” or “No! Not me!” in the Premiere article.
The article states that Mr. Suzuki said his theory of “Kaonashi=Miyazaki” though it was not clear if he meant it as a joke or seriously. Then, the article continues to Miyazaki-San’s quote, “It is not. Well, I understand there are some elements of Kaonashi in many people. Because they react (to Kaonashi?) too strongly. It (Kaonashi?) is very kind. It helps Chihiro when she is in crisis. Chihiro let him in the bathhouse, since she thought that he shouldn’t be there (outside?). But when he failed to lure Chihiro with gold and was told to go back to his parents, he runs wild. Everyone become like that, when one loses one’s own temper. Everyone has libido, an indeterminate aggressive energy. All these things is the true form (of Kaonashi?). He has become such a character.”
There is quite a difference here, right? The only thing I know about Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, is that it deals with fantasy elements as old as the world itself. Not prostitution, but something much deeper?