‘Call Me Chihiro’ Ending, Explained: Does Chihiro Really Leave The Bento Shop At The End?


Directed by Rikiya Imaizumi and based on the manga “Chihiro San” created by Hiroyuki Yasuda, “Call Me Chihiro” belongs to the genre “Slice of Life,” which really focuses on the daily routine of a woman named Chihiro. The movie gives us a peek into Chihiro’s emotions as well as her life as she comes across various people. Kasumi Arimura, the actor, portrayed Chihiro so well, and she understood her emotions to the tee, which really made this movie worth a second watch. “Call Me Chihiro” captures the essence of the Slice of Life manga and anime and is sure to be a hit amongst both manga lovers and anime lovers. It is simple yet heartwarming, and that is what is so lovable about the movie.

Spoilers Ahead

‘Call Me Chihiro’ Plotline: What Is The Film About?

The movie follows the free-spirited soul of an ex-sex worker who now works at a bento shop for a living. She comes across people who have maybe lost their way somehow, and she tries to help provide some comfort to their souls. She gives the dead a beautiful send-off in her own way, paying respect to their souls. While she provides solace to the ones living in her own unapologetic way. Chihiro tries to find a place where she herself fits in, and by the end of “Call Me Chihiro,” she leaves her current job and sets off for a distant farm with a clean slate.

Chihiro: The Complexities of Her Character, Explained

Words really can’t do her any justice. However, “Call Me Chihiro” paid homage to sex workers in a really pleasant way. Chihiro works at a bento shop she came across on a rainy day. Chihiro’s character is very down to earth and a relatable character to people who feel an emotional disconnect toward their friends and family. The emotional disconnect is so severe sometimes that the person becomes an observer in their real life, which may sometimes push them to take their own lives just to feel something. Chihiro’s character carries loneliness within herself. Her loneliness does not define her in any way. She is cheerful, happy, and loves to hang out with other people. Yet there are times when she prefers her own company to others’. She is open about her previous job as a sex worker and does not shy away from it. Her job at the Bento Shop provides her with an emotional calm, as the owner, Bito, and his wife, Tae, have been the reason behind her working there. Tae had been the person she could connect to and became the reason for Chihiro to keep on going; thus, she applied for a job, and Bito, appreciating her wholehearted appreciation for the food, accepted her without question. As a thank you for all of the days Tae was beside her, she took the now-blind Tae, who was in the hospital, out for an escapade as she expressed her gratitude toward Tae for being there for her.

She helps people when she comes across them and finds them in a troublesome situation. She came across an old homeless person dragging his suitcase around who was being bullied by children for his unkempt appearance. Chihiro intervened and offered the old man some food while chatting away happily to keep him company. She also offered him a shower, and the peace the old man felt was reflected on his face. He did not overstay her welcome and expressed the gratefulness he felt toward her with a simple bow of thankfulness. He left her home, and the next day he shared a peaceful place with her to better show his gratitude. In the few minutes they had been together, he understood that all she needed was a place away from the hustle and bustle to enjoy her lunch or her time alone peacefully with a view. Chihiro, for a few days, enjoyed her lunch with the old man and one day found him missing. She came across Becchan here as she was looking around the place. She helps Okaji connect with Makoto and Becchan as she feels that they would connect because, even though their families are different, they share the same circumstances. She tries to look for the old man, only to accidentally come across his soulless body. She holds a quiet funeral for him while burying him in the forest, then goes back home to mourn in private.

Chihiro does not believe in the passionate love story; she believes in a more mellowed version of enjoying someone’s company, where that person could understand her and connect with her in a deeper way, where her soul feels seen. The emotional disconnect she feels after a while makes her lonely and also renders her incapable of staying in one place. This had almost pushed her toward taking her life; however, her ex-boss, when she had asked for a job at the massage parlor, had accepted her as an employee with no questions asked. She had felt a disconnect toward her family too, which had been the reason why she left them. In her troubled childhood, she met a sex worker who went by Chihiro. Chihiro had helped little Chihiro and Aya Furusawa by simply accompanying them for a while to share the food Aya had made and walking her home. Chihiro even left her calling card with little Aya so that she could find her when she was lonely. Therefore, Aya borrowed the name Chihiro to pay a little homage.

‘Call Me Chihiro’ Ending Explained: Does Chihiro Really Leave The Bento Shop At The End?

Chihiro tries to take in the world, the oceans, and the beauty of it all, but it only leaves her with an emptiness that she cannot fill. The little phrases her client had told her during her time as a sex worker had helped her truly accept herself. That is, humans are aliens from different planets and can only connect with those from their own planet, which is why they cannot understand others. In the last few minutes of the film, this phrase becomes extremely relevant because Chihiro could feel herself disconnecting and rather observing the happiness that others felt with the ones they found and could click with while she wondered what true happiness felt like. She could feel herself pondering about how that would feel, which affected her loneliness and made her leave because she did not want to take away the happiness others felt. It also meant that the time she shared with the people around her had come to an end, as she found herself a bystander and not an active participant in their lives anymore. Tae was the one Chihiro could connect with and someone who understood her. Tae could feel that it was time for Chihiro to drift away to somewhere else where she could find herself again and again. Chihiro left the shop to settle down on a farm, where she hopes to find a connection and also another reason to live.

Final Thoughts: A Warm Hug for All the Loners Out There

“Call Me Chihiro” feels literally like a warm hug and a movie that connects at a deeper level and really makes me feel seen. The words and the shots of the film gave me a comfort that I cannot express in words. The film deserves its place among the other comfort films that can be watched during a rainy night or a wintry night under a weighted blanket with a bag of tissues. It is also like a conversation with a person who may not understand the inner turmoil but simply provides a warm hug and a peaceful coexistence. “Call Me Chihiro” feels like home. The one thing the movie expresses is that home is where you feel peace, comfort, and a connection to the living; it could be a person, a place, a favorite t-shirt or dress, or food. The characters felt human with all their imperfections, and Chihiro drifted from place to place, not finding a place to really fit in because of the emotional distance between the rest and her. Her straightforwardness really resonates with any viewer, not just me. I’d recommend watching the film however many times you want. It is simply beautiful, and I would love to know what Chihiro did after her time on the farm.

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Alokananda Sen
Alokananda Sen
Alokananda Sen holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has a keen interest in graphic designing, reading, and photography. Her insatiable appetite for cinema and pop culture enticed her to work as a content writer. She is currently pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma focused in Animation & VFX to explore a new dimension in her career.

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