both coraline and spirited away were movies that intensely terrified me as a child but they’re both genuinely very good movies. (in fact, spirited away is one of my favorite movies now and the more i watch it, the more i like it)
the thing is both of these movies scared me for the exact same reason. i wasn’t able to make sense of what exactly these movies made me feel when i was a child, but looking back now, i see why my brain made the mental connection between these two.
both movies have good-hearted, intelligent, and brave female protagonists who aren’t taken seriously by the adults in their lives and end up suffering because of that.
i don’t remember the all details of the movie coraline, but i remember coraline expressing desire and irritation and anger and how her parents dismissed her feelings as the temper tantrums of a child. her family had just moved recently and her parents had a lot on their plate, i’m sure, but it was evident from the movie that her mother had little patience for her and that her father didn’t pay much attention to her. the manifestation of the “other world”, along with it’s many temptations (ex. the gloves!!) is proof that she feels this one is lacking.
as for spirited away, chihiro is in a similar situation, just moving to a new town when her seemingly free-spirited and carefree parents decide to take a detour and accidentally end up at the entrance to the spirit world. they don’t know this ofc, and nonchalantly decide to explore the area, despite chihiro’s insistence that they leave, that this place is creepy, that they shouldn’t be here. rather than listening to or comforting this scared child, they say , “ok, stay here then, we’ll be right back.” and it’s like yeah, ok how would they have known? but it’s dismissive actions like that that end up making chihiro second-guess herself, she’s made to believe her intuition is wrong and that she’s just being a silly child. the fact is, her parents are just irresponsible and that’s made clear when they sit down and eat unattended at one of the empty food stalls meant for spirits. when chihiro discovers that her parents have become pigs, helplessly waiting to be slaughtered at yubaba’s command, she’s left all alone, terrified, in a strange new place.
both coraline and chihiro’s decision to save their parents is one maybe borne out of love, but for me, that was never as important as the circumstances that brought them there. there’s something devastating about having to save the people who were supposed to protect you, because it means that in some way, they have failed you.
anyways the takeaways i’ve gotten from these films was never “but see? you should be grateful for what you have and the people in your life and the family unit is unbreakable and important because everyone loves each other in the end”, it’s “parents and adults cause children to suffer because they don’t take their words at face-value and thereby put them in dangerous situations because children will do anything just so they can momentarily feel seen and loved” and STILL in the end of both films, it’s the children who must decide to bear the emotional and physical responsibility of “saving” the people important to them.