Spirited Away ~ Background History
Miyazaki's friend's daughter was the inspiration for Chihiro. He wouldn't come up with a clear plot line first, he would just go with the flow in whatever the direction would go. They could be in production of making the film and the script wouldn't be finished yet, he said that he was too busy most of the time. He decided that he would make a film with 10 year old heroes in 1997 since there was never movies about 10 year old protagonists. He had said that some of the buildings were based on actual places in Japan. Miyazaki had also used some of his past experiences and incorporated it into the movie, like cleaning the river spirit. That is the part where Chihiro had to clean the stink spirit, is Miyazaki's experience on cleaning a river.
One of the true reasons why Miyazaki started to make this film is because he has friends and he wanted to make a movie that they could enjoy. He also stated, "I felt this country only offered such things as crushes and romance to 10-year-old girls, though, and looking at my young friends, I felt this was not what they held dear in their hearts, not what they wanted. And so I wondered if I could make a movie in which they could be heroines..." He wanted make this movie relatable and not overexaggerated, so he had Chihiro to be ordinary as possible. Studio Ghibli and Disney have produced this film and Disney, even Disney tried to buy the studio. John Lassester has even said that if Disney/Pixar were stuck (imaginatively), they would just put on Studio Ghibli movies to regain their imagination. John Lassester and Miyazaki later became friends and they both became inspired with their movies.