Metamorphosis and Identity: Psychoanalytical Notes to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle

Far greater liberties can be taken by animation than by live-action films The possibilities of the narratives are enriched by unrestricted visual images that offer unique means of exploring and portraying states of desire, conscious and unconscious realities, as well as different layers of relationships and experiences. This leads to a fusion of the traditional and modern roles of representation. Anime from acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, particularly the Academy Award winner Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, 2003) and Oscar-nominated Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro, 2004), which in recent years have acquired a global cult status, offer new perspectives on human subjectivity. Through their playful use of the motif of transformation, striking similarities in the development of the plots and ambiguous dénouements, the movies problematize the fundamental question of identity, representing a close illustration of some of the core psychoanalytical concepts found in Lacanian theory.