Fantasy, Fairy Tales and Female Sexuality in Spirited Away, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Coraline

This is an edited transcript of a presentation I gave at the Midwest Popular Culture Association conference that took place Oct 11-13 in St. Louis, MO.  I am currently in the early stages of revising it for publication, and hope to start sending it out to journals early next year.  As always, I welcome any and all feedback and comments on the ideas presented within. Also, because this paper is incomplete and not currently published in any journals, I would ask that if you want to quote it or cite it in any way, please contact me for permission first. Thank you.

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE, INTO THE FALLOPIAN TREE, AND THROUGH THE VAGINAL TUNNEL: FANTASY, FAIRY TALES, AND FEMALE SEXUALITY IN SPIRITED AWAY, PAN’S LABYRINTH AND CORALINE

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865), the films Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001), Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006), and Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009) all feature stories in which young girls enter a new world of adult responsibilities and concerns, and are guided on their journeys through these worlds by an older male character. All three films use fairy tales and fantasy tropes to explore the various challenges and opportunities faced by the female protagonists as they navigate both their emergent sexuality, and the tensions that exist between childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

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