Sara’s Best of Season 2 – E05 Spirited Away


Cartoons are just not for me. I don’t even like the ones made specifically for adults. I don’t know why, it’s nothing personal, but I just can’t connect with the medium. But I do love Nathan Blackwell (have you guys seen his new Voyage Trekkers PSAs? They’re hilarious as always!), and when he wanted to educate a [geek] on Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, I volunteered as tribute.

Many of us gathered at my house to watch the show and it was probably my favorite viewing all year. The film was rich and complex, and I was furiously scribbling notes the whole time. But Spirited Away was also easy to follow and not so challenging that I could enjoy the company and make jokes and eat the yummy Japanese foods that Alice brought.

There’s a reason that gifted people are drawn to fantasy, sci-fi, and stories from other cultures. We like to have that extra layer of complexity, we need that challenge or we get bored too easily. But we need our storytellers to be gifted, as well, or the stories can wind up chaotic, messy, and discouraging.

I loved Spirited Away specifically because of Miyazaki’s gift for storytelling. The characters were rich and even though there were many of them, they weren’t trope-y or cliché. As Nathan pointed out in the podcast, there were no clear-cut bad guys. That may be too challenging for many people who think they need to make value judgments but don’t want to think too critically about them, but I think it’s so important that kids are presented with complicated characters in stories so they are better prepared for the complicated people they will meet in real life.

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As I went back and listened to the podcast, I jotted down some of my favorite parts:

  • Listening to the part where I said my favorite character was No Face brought back all my love for him, but as I listened further, I had to agree that Alice, Bri, and Nathan’s choices were also my favorites. Again, props to Miyazaki for creating such endearing characters.
  • The part where I revealed that I think that traditional families are headed up by guys who go out into the world wearing fedoras.
  • The part where I suggested that we scrap our future show plans and just change the name of the podcast to “Educating [Sara] on Miyazaki.” (Guys? I’m still totally up for this! Let me know.)
  • I have blown sunshine up Nathan Blackwell’s ass so much in the past that you are all probably tired of hearing about how awesome I think he is as a filmmaker and as a person, but I’m just going to do it again. When we get to our regular Bechdel Test discussion, Nathan blew my mind with the “reverse Bechdel test,” and pointing out there was only one scene where there are two guys talking to each other.
  • And finally, my favorite part of the drinking game was Bri’s “which witch is which” drinking game rule.

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You should also check out the Spirited Away Geek [Supplies].

Best of Season 2

Alice – E16 The Terminator

Andrea – E10 American Horror Story: Coven

Bri – E08 The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

Cassandra – E06 X-files

Diana – E12 Sleepy Hollow

Krissy – E18 Barbarella

Megan – E20 The Hobbit