This is how I interpret the story of Spirited Away:
- The bathhouse represents the society. People work with each other towards a common goal. Every night, 8 million gods come to the bathhouse and workers serve them, worship them. In a way they deal with them, do business with them. In Asian cultures, fire, air, earth, water, food, etc. are represented as gods, so bathhouse very accurately represents a working society. The 'spell' breaks if they stop working.
- Yubaba is the culture. She manages the bathhouse. She is tyrannical and rules over people by taking there real name and giving them a new name.
- Chihiro was given a new name by Yubaba, 'Sen', which means 'one thousand', similar to how a person is given a roll number or employee number in an organisation. That number becomes his new identity.
- Haku has forgotten his real name. Similar to Islamic terrorism, he's become a slave to the tyrannical culture. He'll do anything the culture tells him to do.
- The baby is the belief system of the society. Yubaba is overly protective of him.
One thing I can't understand is, who is Zeniba, Yubaba's twin sister.
Yubaba and Zeniba are two parts of a whole.
Yubaba keeps baby locked in a room, afraid that he might get sick because of germs. Zeniba turned baby into a mouse so that he might have a little freedom.
Zeniba lives in swamp bottom.
There used to be trains running between bathhouse and swamp bottom in old days, but the return trains from swamp bottom have stopped. Now it's a one-way road towards swamp bottom.
The tickets to swamp bottom Kamaji gave to Chihiro had been with him for 40 years.
'Zeni' has two meanings in Japanese, 'money' and 'ancient'. 'ba' means 'old lady'. The meaning of Zeniba which seems to fit the story is 'ancient old lady.
Yubaba wanted to steal a seal from Zeniba, which was supposedly very precious.
So what does Zeniba represent in this story?