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The Radish Spirit Detail That Spirited Away Fans Can't Get Enough Of

From the monstrous Ohmu insects in "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" to the huggable cat bus in "My Neighbor Totoro" to the wise Forest Spirit in "Princess Mononoke," Hayao Miyazaki's catalog of creations knows no bounds. Arguably his most explosive exploration of colorful creatures is in the 2001 Oscar-winning hit "Spirited Away." The film tells the story of a young girl named Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi in Japanese, Daveigh Chase in English) who must save her parents after they were transformed into pigs by working in a bathhouse inhabited by spirits, monsters, and gods. The film has remained acclaimed over the years for its timeless themes of growing up and overcoming adversity as well as its stunning animation.

One of the most enduring aspects of "Spirited Away" is its wide assortment of inventive spirits and monsters, which continue to show up on merchandise to this day. One of the most memorable of these colorful characters is that of the Radish Spirit. The slow-moving, non-speaking round creature has a brief encounter with Chihiro when it joins her in the elevator at the bathhouse, goes past his floor, and continues to stand next to her as she rides up to meet the film's antagonist, the witch Yubaba (Mari Natsuki in Japanese, Suzanne Pleshette in English). There's plenty to love about the Radish Spirit, from his cuddly appearance to his funny vocals, but fans have found something equally endearing that may not be as obvious.

The Radish Spirit is there to comfort Chihiro

According to a Reddit post from u/readarchvillain, there might have been more to the Radish Spirit than meets the eye. "In ['Spirited Away,'] the Radish Spirit rides past his floor so that Chihiro doesn't have to travel through the bathhouse alone," their post stated. The thought birthed a number of reactions, as fans, while largely not surprised, used this as a chance to further express their love for the irresistible character.

Similarly, many tried to figure out why and how the Radish Spirit was able to protect her. Some such as u/soupbuns believe that it was the Radish Spirit's massive size that kept Chihiro hidden from the others, while u/madmaxturbator posited that maybe the Radish Spirit's odor was strong enough to protect Chihiro. Why not both? While there were no major naysayers in the thread, there were a few who questioned the idea. u/Shargur was unsure of the Radish Spirit's true intent, believing the scene to be more open-ended. Meanwhile, u/Kelekona said, "I thought the radish spirit was just bored and wanted to know what the top floor looked like."

Regardless of how people see the Radish Spirit's motivation, there's no denying that he has a good heart by the end. This is noted by Redditor u/bigschnittylife who recalled, "At the very end of the film, when Chihiro correctly guesses the pigs aren't her parents, you can see the Radish Spirit in the crowd waving flags along with everyone celebrating."