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NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Satchmo, publisher of Dr. Wuss
The film starts with a young girl named Chihiro and her parents driving through a town. Chihiro is holding a bouquet of flowers from her friends. We learn her Dad has to move for a new job, so they made her leave her friends. She is not really pleased. Her dad seems to make a wrong turn, and they find themselves on a deserted road. Dad gets all excited and decides to test the 4 wheel drive, and speeds down the dirt road, stopping short at a statue of a frog in front of an old looking building. Dad quickly finds the building to be plaster, and fairly new, and decides to investigate, despite Chihiro's protests.
On the other side they find a dry river bed, and some empty buildings. Dad exclaims this is an old amusement park. They sprung up all over in the mid 90's but then the economy dried up. Still, it would be fun to look around, so off they go. As they look around, with Chihiro demanding they go back to the car, Dad and mom smell food. Dad sniffs his way to a buffet of sorts in an empty building. He and mom call for a waiter, but no one comes. They decide, what the hell, they'll go ahead and start and pay when they're done. Mom and dad start gorging themselves on delicious looking food. Chihiro goes off to wander around, since her parents obviously aren't leaving any time soon. She walks over to a wooden bridge and reads a sign saying the building in front of her is a bathhouse. Suddenly a young man runs over to her and tells her she has to get out of here. He casts a magic spell behind her and tells her to run. While this is happening, it gets dark, and the lights start to come on. Inside some buildings she can see spirits, floating and translucent. Very frightened, she runs back to her parents, only to find they are now giant pigs, still gorging themselves on food. Chihiro runs away back towards the car, only to find the dry river bed is no longer dry, and is now a long and powerful river. Chihiro sits down crying, bewildered and frightened. She notices she is dissapearing, and demands she must be dreaming. Suddenly the young boy appears again, and hands her food. If she doesnt eat it, she'll vanish entirely. He says he can help her, if she'll listen.
They need to cross the wooden bridge, and if she can hold her breath, no one will be able to see her. The big building is a bathhouse for the gods and spirits, and they don't like humans. Chihiro manages to get almost all the way across the bridge when a talking frog says hello to the young man, Lord Haku, and the sight of him makes her gasp, revealing herself. Haku grabs her and runs for it, finding a hiding place. He tells her to go talk to the master of the boiler, and demand he give her a job. If she has a job, then Yubaba, the evil head of the bathhouse, cant hurt her.
So Chihiro makes her way to the boiler master, a strange man with 6 arms, who has used magic to make soot balls do his labor. His job is to keep the boiler working to keep the bath water hot. As he has the soot balls working, he doesnt need anyone else. However, when a girl comes to feed the boiler master, he tells the girl to take Chihiro to yubaba for a job, saying that she's his granddaughter. The young lady begrudgingly does it, taking Chihiro up through the giant bath-house, which is filled with giant spirits and monsters. Chihiro arrives at Yubaba's office, and finds her a giant, yet squat woman, who is very cold. Yubaba refuses to give Chihiro a job, and tells her to get out, but Chihiro remains stubborn and keeps asking for a job. suddenly, a giant noise comes from the next room, and Yubaba gets up to attend to her 'baby'. Chihiro keeps asking for a job, and out of exasperation, Yubaba finally says yes, and has Chihiro sign a contract. Once she does, Yubaba uses a spell to remove the letters from the page. She steals Chihiro's name and tells her her new name is Sen. She sends Sen off with the young lady from earlier, Lin. On her way out, Sen runs into Haku, who acts like he's never seen her before. Lin tells her that Haku is Yubaba's second in command, he does all her dirty work, but Sen wont believe it.
Sen and Lin go into the bath-house to see who wants Sen to work with them, but no one will, so she gets dumped on Lin. They head to the servants quarters, to prepare for bed, and Sen cries herself to sleep. Early in the morning, haku wakens her, and takes her to the pig sty to see her parents. He says she HAS to remember which pigs they are, because there are hundreds of pigs inside. He also hands her her old clothes, and inside is the card from her friends, addressed to Chihiro. She had already forgotten that was her name, which is how Yubaba keeps slaves, she steals their names. Haku can't remember his. He tells her to NEVER come to the sty without him, and vanishes. She turns back, and sees a dragon flying through the sky. She wonders, could that be Haku?
On her way to meet Lin for her first day or work, she sees a weird figure outside a window. It looks like a person in a black sheet with a white mask on. She asks if he wants to come in, and he nods, so she opens the door and walks off. The blank faced man enters and vanishes.
Sen meets Lin, and they get their assigned duty, to clean a giant bathtub. This is the one they use for the biggest stinkiest clients, and it hasn't been cleaned in ages. Lin tells Sen she needs to go get a token for an herbal wash. Sen tries, but the token man won't acknoweledge her request. The blank man appears and snags a token for her, and she thanks him and runs off. No one sees this happen.
Sen learns how to send the tokens to the boiler master and get the water running, and fills the tub to scrub it. Meanwhile however, there is much afoot. There is a stink-monster approaching, apparently a BIG one. No one can get anywhere near it, and they tell it to take the BIGGEST tub, the one Sen is working on. It gets into the tub, and is still a giant mess. The blank man appears and gives her more tokens and she says she only needed the one, but he hands them to her in a bucket and vanishes. She uses one of the tokens to pour another strong herbal wash onto the monster, but slips and can't reach the shut-off cord. As the room fills with water, she sees something in him, and starts to pull it. Its a rope. Everyone starts pulling it, and soon things start coming out. A bycycle, chains, etc, till suddenly it seems to implode. It turns out at the center is a dragon. Its a water spirit, a very valued customer, who was just too polluted. Before he flies off, he hands Sen a piece of something, it almost looks like a meatball. then he flies off into the nights. He leaves behind everything that was in him, including speckles of gold, which Yubaba demands everyone give to her. The shadowy figure sees this and ponders it.
That night, the talking frog returns to the room to look for gold, and the shadowy figure is there. he produces from his hands, gold, similar to the specks on the floor before. The frog greedily grabs for it, and is eaten by the black figure. Someone else walks in, and in the frogs voice, the man demands a bath and food, and offers GOLD for everyone.
Sen wakes up late, as Lin shakes her, saying there is some big customer eating everything and throwing around Gold. Lin runs off excited, but Sen doesn't care. She looks out her window and sees the dragon again, Haku, and at first it seems he's glowing, but upon closer inspection, he's being attacked, by paper birds, who have cut him badly. Sen opens her door and calls to Haku, and he flies in like a cannonball, and she slams the door behind him, trapping some of the birds. The dragon is badly wounded, and looks to be getting worse. He is scared and tears at the walls, eventually taking off to fly up to Yubaba's room. Sen is dead set to attend to him, so she starts to climb up to Yubaba's room, with a paper bird secretly stowing away on her shoulder. She makes it to Yubaba's room to find yubaba there, so she hides in an adjacent room, where she meets the giant baby from before. He is literally a giant, some 5 feet tall, and demands that Sen stay and play. Sen says no, but he should go outside some time, and they could play, but the baby is afraid of germs. Sen then declares that SHE has germs, and the baby releases her. By this time, Yubaba has gone to attend to the big spender downstairs, but some of her attendants, an evil bird that resembles her, and these 3 disembodied monster heads, are at work trying to push Haku into a pit. Sen tries to stop them, but the 3 creepy heads keep her away pretty well. At this point, the paper bird lets go, and turns into its REAL form, Zeniba, Yubaba's sister who looks just like her. It seems that Yubaba sent Haku to steal her magic seal, and she wants it back. She turns the giant baby into a hamster, and the bird into a much smaller bird, about the size of a mesquito, who lands on the hamster's back. He then turns the 3 heads into a giant baby (So yubaba wouldnt know he was gone), and turns her sights on Haku, who is able to tear the paper bird in two, which breaks Zenibaba's spell. He then falls in the pit, followed by Sen.
The pit leads down to the boiler, where the boiler master looks at the situation. Haku is dying, he's been poisoned by a spell on the magic seal. She takes out the meatballish thing the water spirit gave her, and feeds him half of it. He starts to cunvule, and spits something out. Its the seal, covered in black goo, which starts to move. The boiler master tells her to destroy it, since its a curse. She sqashes it quickly. Haku turns back to human form, and the Boiler master says he is dying from the curse. Sen has to take the train to Zenibaba's land to appologize for Haku, and return the seal. However, train tickets are hard to come by, and are one way. Luckily Boiler master has some, and gives them to Sen.
Around this time, Lin bursts in and asks Sen if she let anyone in to the bath-house yesterday. It seems that the dark figure who became a big customer is a monster named No-face, who has started eating people, and is demanding to see Sen. She calmly says she'll handle it. Along with the hamster and bird, she goes off to face No-face and head off to see Zenibaba.
Sen goes in and sees a now fat no-face, who offers her gold. She says she doesnt want it, and he moves like he's going to eat her. She instead feeds him the rest of the meatball from the water spirit, and he recoils, disgusted. Sen runs for the door, with the hamster and bird, followed closely by No-face, who is starting to melt, it seems, and he's none too happy. As he races after her, he stops every now and then to vomit up a person. It seems the meatball is some kind of spiritual ipicack. Sen makes it to the train station, with No-face behind her, back to his silent, skinny self. Lin asks if she is worried about him, and she says no, because the bath-house made him crazy, but he's a nice person. Dont think about this too hard or expect it to make sense, since they never mention it again.
So Sen, the bird, the hamster and No-Face take the train to Zenibaba's house,
where they find her to be a very nice old woman, unlike her witch of a sister. Sen mentions the black thing, and how she's sorry she squished the curse, and Zenibaba laughs. That wasn't her curse, her curse could only be broken by true love. The black blob was Yubaba's hold on Haku.
Meanwhile, Haku awakens and wonders what happened. The boiler master fills him in. Haku goes and yells at Yubaba, who has realized her real baby is gone. Haku says he'll get the baby back if she'll tear up Sen's contract and return her parents. Yubaba is taken aback by Haku's frankness and anger, and agrees...with a catch that she won't disclose. So Haku takes off to get Sen. Around this time, Sen falls asleep while Zenibaba, the hamster, the bird and no-face start spinning something, weaving her a gift. She dreams vaguely of a time a long time ago...a shoe floating in the water.
Haku arrives to pick up Sen, and she leaves with the hamster and the bird. In the air, Sen remembers her dream. When she was a child, she almost drowned in a river, but the spirit of the river saved her. The spirit was Haku. He remembers his name (Something like yuna river spirit) and transforms into human form, but can still fly. Now he is out of Yubaba's spell.
Haku and Sen arrive back at the bath-house, and everyone is out to see what will happen. Yubaba demands her child, and the baby and bird are returned to normal. Now Yubaba gets to her devious plan, but the baby wont have it. He says if Yubaba is mean to Sen, he won't love her anymore. But Sen intervenes, and says a deal is a deal. Yubaba shows her 4 pigs, and tells her to pick which are her parents. If she picks right, they're free to go, if not, too bad.
Sen looks at them and declares that NONE of these pigs are her parents, which turns out to be the right answer. Everyone rejoices, and Sen is freed, and becomes Chihiro again. She hugs Haku, her love, who makes an allusion to them meeting again sometime soon. She runs to the enterance to find her parents looking for her.
They are unaware of any time passing. They drive off, only Chihiro remembering the amazing experience of the past month.
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