‘Talent and income are unrelated – Money is not the reward of talent and hard work. Self-satisfaction is the goal. Your efforts are worthy if you do what you love.’
Satoru begins his story caught up in earning a wage, rather than giving the crucial time and effort to his manga. He’s afraid to reflect on what he wants from his art, scared of reaching what he calls “the heart of his own mind” and unleashing all the light and darkness locked up in his gift. Avoiding the pain of acknowledging the abyss the artist must stare into before they express their deepest truth, he must learn to bare his soul and fail before he can succeed. He takes this chance with his Revival; the power to turn back time. In his determination to save the friend he never made the first time round, he learns to take command of his losses, his renewed innocence freeing latent truths and the power of releasing them to the hearts of those who matter most.
‘Take it easy – Of course you need to work, but don’t overdo it! Without rest, you’ll burn yourself out.’
Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
Tanaka-kun knows the importance of rest very well. But perhaps he takes this advice a bit too much to heart, with his aesthetic of listlessness taking all his effort to maintain. Still, even without noticing it, his commitment to a lazy lifestyle makes him someone who’s admired by his friends and classmates. He shows us that slowing down lets us see the simple pleasures of a world that usually moves too fast to stop and savour the moment. In having a nap in the shade of a tree to escape the mid-afternoon sun, or taking our time to enjoy a delicious meal, we can take invigoration and inspiration from joys that the over-proactive wouldn’t even spare a passing thought.
‘Believe in what you cannot see – The things that mean the most are things you cannot hold in your hand.’
It’s Chihiro’s courage to believe that gives her the means to rescue her parents, but just as essentially, to make the most of the strange new place she stumbles upon. In exploring the spirit realm, she learns the same way we do when we first go to school, or begin to travel, the value of the bonds, knowledge and experience that comes from that brave first step. Standing up to anyone and anything that keeps her from going home with her family, she teaches a world the power of belief, whether in yourself or someone you love, or fighting through the facade to uncover the truth.
When she restores her parents’ lives, though they can’t, or won’t, remember what happened, Chihiro will always know the hidden power and protection that’s hidden, yet in harmony with the world we see. And in turn, that wondrous world built by Hayao Miyazaki wouldn’t be there as we know it, if Shigeru Mizuki hadn’t first believed in the wisdom behind the ancient terrors of the yokai.