In Spirited Away,

Chihiro opens the window for the No Face god. He comes in, and helps her with the bath tags. Later that night, the frog comes looking for gold and he gives him gold, and then swallows him. He starts talking like the frog and asks for food. The next day, he is eating everything and giving gold away. When Chihiro refuses his gold, he gets angry and eats 2 others. In the end, Chihiro uses the stone given by the River God to make him vomit everything out. As he chases her, he vomits the 2 guys he ate, and leaves the spa. Chihiro mentions something like "He's only bad in there!", and when they're in the train tracks, he vomits the frog. He then calmly goes with her and behaves until the end of the movie.

Why did the No Face God have this absurd change of behavior? Going from a calm silent guy to a greedy angry god, and then back?

My interpretation was that he becomes what he eats. In the beginning, he is just a lonely god. Chihiro becomes his friend by letting him in, and he wants to help her, hence giving her the tags. Eventually, he eats the frog (not sure why, but maybe because the frog was a bully of sorts towards Chihiro?), and becomes greedy like the frog. He wants to eat everything, but he still sees Chihiro as a friend. When she refuses him, he gets angry and this rejection, and starts rampaging. As he vomits things out, he becomes normal again.

Any thoughts?

1 Answer 1


No Face is able to learn and adapt to his environment, and is also able to absorb and exhibit the emotions and personalities of the creatures he has ingested. From the wiki:

He is shown to be capable of reacting to emotions and ingesting other individuals in order to gain their personality and physical traits. [He] begins to follow Chihiro after having developed an interest in her sincerity. Not knowing much about the Bathhouse or about other spirits in general, No-Face learned by example and adapted to his surroundings.

He sees some workers arguing over some gold (after Chihiro rejects the bathhouse tokens) and learns that gold is a powerful way to get what he wants. He uses this knowledge to bait the frog spirit to him.

Once No Face swallows the frog, he exhibits the frog's greedy and obnoxious personality, which leads him demanding all that food and accommodations in the bath house.

Exposed to the corruptive thoughts and greed of the workers, he quickly grew to encompass their personalities, hoping that his endeavor to be like those around Chihiro would eventually garner her affection for him.

Once Chihiro rejects his gold and he drops it to the ground, the workers trying to get the gold anger No Face, because he thinks they are disrespecting him. This leads to him eating them.

No-Face becomes obsessed with Chihiro, and wants her to see her and her only. He becomes extremely volatile after being fed the Unnamed River Spirit's emetic dumpling by Chihiro, and, while fleeing from the obviously now-hostile spirit, she calls out to him twice to follow her.

Chihiro eventually gives No Face the healing mud, which forces No Face to throw up everyone and everything that was corrupting him when he ingested it. Then we can see his original quiet and timid personality.

At this stage, No-Face is no longer aggressive and is quite docile, even obeying Chihiro's orders, like "sit" and "behave yourself."

I also think that No Face kind of mirrors or even foils Chihiro and her experiences in the spirit world. Both of them enter the bathhouse at the same time. Both become different people(or spirits) while in there due to trying to impress the people around themselves. While Chihiro did everything she did for the right reasons, No Face instead just wanted to impress her and the people around her. This (potentially) leads him to eating the frog and throwing out fake gold for everyone. His fake gold instead turns to mud, while the actual mud Chihiro gives him has healing properties and returns him to his original self. Also, once they leave the bathhouse, they are always together and share the same experiences, until Chihiro returns to her world.

Just an interesting idea I figured was related enough to share.

  • Also, once they leave the bathhouse, they are always together and share the same experiences, until Chihiro returns to her world. Didn't chihiro leave him at swamp bottom?
    – saga
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 20:29

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