There’s some dark stuff in these theories…
*There may be some more sensitive content below. There’s nothing in-depth – but if you aren’t comfortable with general reading about suicide and death, you may not want to read this post*
- San wears the corpse of her dead sister
Okay, so you know how the wolf goddess Moro says that when she found a couple ‘defiling the forest’ they threw their baby on the ground and fled? Yes? Okay, good. So pretty much this theory suggests that what Moro meant by ‘defiling the forest’ is that the couple where hunting her pups, and perhaps even managed to even kill one. It’s been theorised that the fur San wears throughout the movie is the coat of Moro’s dead pup…
- Totoro is the god of death
Okay so this theory actually has a surprising amount of evidence behind it… When Mei goes missing and people find a shoe in a pond, this may imply that Mei did actually drown. But despite Granny thinking it was Mei’s shoe, Satsuki wouldn’t have it… Instead, she ran to find Totoro in his den – the Underworld – and kills herself. The theory explains that the only reason Satsuki is able to find Mei is because they’re both in the land of the dead…
Even in the movie, before the girls go to see their mother, the stops on the Catbus flick past the words ‘grave road.’ Adding to this, it’s reasoned that their mother could sense their presence because she herself is at death’s doorstep – while their father couldn’t do this. Mei and Satsuki being dead is another reason for why they don’t interact with any living person during the end of the film…
But there’s more! Fans have long speculated that the movie is based upon the infamous Sayama Incident – a crime which occurred 1963 where a young girl was murdered and her sister subsequently committed suicide. Despite Studio Ghibli stating that the movie is not linked to the incident, there are many connections such as how both of the girls who died in the Sayama Incident had names relating the month May – and Mei’s name (obviously) and Satsuki’s name (which means ‘May’ in Japanese) also relate to the month May…
- Dola from Laputa is an elderly version of Pippi Longstocking
This theory originates from the fact that back in the 1980s, Miyazaki pitched for a Pippi Longstocking movie. The idea was rejected but fans think that he still got to put Pippi in one of his movie’s – as Dola shares her same gravity-defying pigtails and we can totally see Pippi commanding a gang of sky pirates (especially considering Pippi’s dad was a sea captain)!
- Yubaba’s bath-house is actually a brothel
This one is slightly disturbing… But essentially, in the movie the girls who work at Yubaba’s bath-house are called ‘yuna,’ which translates to ‘hot water woman.’ Now, back when these kind of establishments were big in Japan, it was the yuna that not only assisted the visiting men but also assisted the visiting men. To also support this theory, the point has also been raised that at brothels the woman that ran the establishment was referred to as ‘yubaba.’
Fans have also brought up the fact that after signing her life away, Chihiro’s name changes to Sen – which means “1/100th of a yen.” This means that Chihiro became just another number in the brothel and emphasises that she is simply an object – explaining why No Face thinks that he can ‘buy’ Chihiro with gold
- All of Miyazaki’s films are set in the same world
Like Pixar films, there are many links between Miyazaki’s films. Examples of this include how the soot sprites that appear in My Neighbour Totoro also make an appearance in Spirited Away, that a young version of Pazu from Laputa can be seen in Howl’s Moving Castle and that the same creature (the cat/squirrel/I actually have no clue what that thing is) appears in both Nausicaa and Laputa
- Whisper of the Heart made people want to commit suicide
It’s said that after watching this movie, people became depressed after lamenting upon their wasted youth. Of course, it has never been confirmed that anyone did commit suicide – but a thread on message boards called ‘Whisper of the Heart Suicide Centre’ was created and was filled with people who hated the world around them and wanted to discuss their feelings with others
- Ponyo is an angel
This theory has been called slightly creepy as it suggests that everyone in Sosuke’s village died in the flood. It’s said that the boats which carry all the townspeople down the river all go in one direction because they are all being carried off into the afterlife. Fans came up with this theory after believing that the raised water that travels in the same direction is a reference to the Sanzu River.
Also, Ponyo and Sosuke are seen going through a tunnel, but are never seen going back through it, suggesting that they went to the afterlife and never returned
- No Face is another human trapped in the spirit world
This theory explains why No Face has weaker magic that the other spirits and why he’s so taken with Chihiro – because she’s the only other one of his kind that he can find
- Ponyo and Sosuke are Mr and Mrs Osono from Kiki’s Delivery Service
Some fans has speculated that the bakers from Kiki’s Delivery Service look an awful lot like adult versions of Ponyo and Sosuke. Maybe they did get married, open a bakery and welcome Kiki into their home later in their life?
The major flaw in this theory though is that Kiki’s Delivery Service was released in 1989 while Ponyo was only released in 2008 – meaning that Miyazaki would have had to plan this occurrence 19 years in advance!
- Seita is in Purgatory
You know what? It’s almost as if Grave of the Fireflies already wasn’t one of the saddest, most depressing movies I’ve ever watched because this theory suggests that Seita is stuck in a continuous loop in Purgatory – forced to relive the events that lead up to his sister’s death as his punishment (as some fans believe that Seita is to blame for his sisters death)
- The Ghibli Curse
This is an interesting theory among Japanese financial traders that states that Studio Ghibil has the potential to damage the stock market. Apparently, whenever a Ghibli movie is aired on television in Japan anything from a bad report to payroll dates all take a bad turn.
The numbers have been run from 2008 to 2013 and apparently, 28 times out of the 35 times Ghibli movies aired, either the currently of Japan or the US dropped the following day…