Grandma and Her Ghosts

Grandma and Her Ghosts Study Guide (PDF format)

When he is shunted off to grandma’s house in the country, five-year-old Doudou makes an amazing discovery — his grandmother is a Daoist shaman, keeper of the village ghosts. Prowling around the urns in grandma’s forbidden shed, Doudou accidentally releases a terrible demon, which takes possession of grandma’s cat and then tries to trick the boy into selling the old woman’s soul. At once a crash course in Daoist folklore, a meditation on dying, and a gripping tale of spirit haunting, Grandma and Her Ghosts also paints a heartwarming picture of two hard-headed relatives learning to trust each other. As a rare example of Taiwanese feature animation (some of the drawing was also done in South Korea), it has the humor and smarts to engage all ages. – UCLA New Chinese Cinema Series

Spirited Away

Spirited Away Lesson Plan (PDF format)
Spirited Away Lesson Plan (.doc format)

Spirited Away

Hayao Miyazaki, surely the most successful and talented animator today, delivers another work of art in his 2003 film Spirited Away. Young Chihiro and her parents are on the road moving to a new town. Getting lost along the way, they stumble into a theme park where ghosts of the past roam the attractions and tired spirits go to relax and unwind. When Chihiro’s parents are transformed into pigs, an enigmatic young boy named Haku tells Chihiro that they only way to save her parents is to work at an incredibly bizarre bathhouse for the gods. Yuubaba, proprietress of the bathhouse, agrees to hire Chihiro if she gives up her name. In her quest to recover her name and save her parents, Chihiro crosses paths with the quirky and memorable employees and guests of the bathhouse, including a spirit covered in filth and the mysterious No-Face. These experiences teach her much about herself and the world around her. – Paul Gomes, University of Hawai ‘i at Mānoa