Fantasy Chronotope in Two Animated Children’s Films: Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001)

Marwa Essam Eldin Fahmi


The aim of this study is to explore fantasy chronotope as exemplified in the complex spatio-temporal configuration in children’s fantasy films. The notion of fantasy chronotope is revisited to conceptualize the way space and time can interrelate through the in-depth analysis of two portal-quest fantasy films: Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Hayao Miyazaki’s (2001) Spirited Away (2001). The theoretical starting point is to examine the representation of the Alternative World and to articulate the aesthetics of animated children’s films as well. The researcher adopts a comparative/theoretical method to question spatiality in visual media and to analyze spatial practices undertaken by fictional/female narratives within multiple locations. Moreover, Japanese anime has not been studied adequately compared to its North American counterparts such as Disney especially in terms of ethnic/national or gender politics encoded in anime images. The study seeks to establish the two animated films as high fantasy films by presenting a fresh view on fantasy chronotope to examine fantasy—as a genre—not designed or intended to express escapism and childishness because it is simply unrealistic. The study sheds light not only on the significance of animation as a medium that has been considered too trivial for serious research, but also the current study offers a better understanding of how Japanese visual culture has brought about potentially crucial changes in the way the Western perceive Asia.



Anime; Media theory of animation; Chronotope; Portal-quest fantasy film; Children’s literature

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