In a recent Q&A session during the broadcast of Spirited Away on Jan 7, 2022, Studio Ghibli revealed on twitter that Yubaba‘s energy ball was inspired by “Dragon Ball style”.
A fan on twitter brought up that the witch Yubaba is able to project energy balls that look quite similar to a certain type of energy ball from Dragon Ball.
Studio Ghibli agreed and confirmed that in the storyboards of the film, director Hayao Miyazaki marked it as “Dragon Ball style” to help the animators understand his intention.
Miyazaki describes Yubaba as “an old lady who can fly” as an explanation for the Dragon Ball projectile.
The PR team at Studio Ghibli answered more questions and gave some behind-the-scenes information about the Academy Award-winning film.
One of the most interesting moments that the staff described on the production of Spirited Away, as “hilarious” was during the recording of No-Face (Jap: Kaonashi). What cracked them up was No-Face VA, Akio Nakamura, going “Ah” in the recording booth for hours while Miyazaki yelled at him to be sadder.
Furthermore, the staff also shed light upon how difficult it was to capture the voice of the late Bunta Sugawara, who plays Kamaji in Spirited Away, properly as he speaks “so slowly and richly”. The production team had a hard time training Sugawara to sync his lips with Kamaji.
Additionally, Haku‘s voice actor, Miyu Irino, had to take multiple shots to pronounce his character’s name, Nigihayami Kohakunushi, correctly.
Spirited Away celebrated its 20th anniversary with the broadcast and Q&A, however, director Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki have a different opinion on anniversaries; they prefer to “look forward without looking to the past.”
Spirited Away is a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Tohokushinsha Film, and Mitsubishi.
It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, making it the first, and to date, the only hand-drawn and non-English-language animated film to win the award.