From the initial scenes of the Spirited Away, greed and gluttony strike the screen, showcasing one of man’s major faults. As the family is walking through the fields and into this unknown area, Chihiro continuously begs for her parents’ attention, complaining with each passing step. Once into the town, Chihiro’s parents find mountains of food, none of it theirs, and gorge themselves. While Chihiro may be a mere child, she attempts to pull her parents away, only to be met with failure and their transformation into pigs. In Japanese society, pigs are symbolic with laziness, and for Chihiro’s parents this is a direct result from being gluttons for food. Later in the film, Chihiro goes to feed some of the pigs, all of which fight for the food and her attention, much like typical animals in a pen.
Early in the film, when Chihiro is trying to obtain a job, she berates Kamaji and later Yubaba for work. While Haku may have instructed her to do so and remain persistent, these very scenes reveal to what extent greed is ingrained in the characters in the film. Of all of the characters, No Face seems to be the ultimate epitome of greed. No Face uses his ability to produce unlimited amounts of gold to draw people to him. Given the high value of gold, the animals uncontrollably rush to No Face yearning for more and more gold, yet another example of the omnipresent greed in the film. As No Face pulls the animals and people towards himself, he eats them, filling him up with greedy people, which spawn into even greater greed for No Face. He is filled with this materialistic and insatiable desire, which represents the cyclical nature of human greed.
While Spirited Away is a cartoon film, perhaps meant for children initially, it touches on ideas that every human, young or old can benefit from. Humans today, especially in the United States, constantly yearn for more. It is not until we as a species can see that life is more than technology and money will we actually be able to progress rather than regress.