This Spirited Away Scene Was A Direct Nod To Dragon Ball

The only Studio Ghibli to have won an Oscar, "Spirited Away" is one of the most beautiful animated movies ever made. Often described as legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki's answer to "Alice in Wonderland," the film, like many other Ghibli features, is laced with symbolism and depth.

Miyazaki's artistry and composer Joe Hisaishi's sweeping orchestral music breathes life into the story of Chihiro, a young girl who gets trapped in the spirit world. Chock-full of dazzling imagery and a flying sequence that will take your breath away, "Spirited Away" is utterly transporting, and the protagonist's journey from an unlikeable brat to a fearless heroine is one everyone must experience.

"Spirited Away" is undoubtedly the studio's magnum opus — and so distinct from other Ghibli counterparts, which makes one wonder where Miyazaki gets his vivid, unending imagination from. The film is rife with references to traditional Japanese folklore and is rooted in fascinating mythology. Previously, the animator-director confessed to being inspired by superstitions and stories about spirits hiding everywhere. But there's one scene in the film — one that is easy to look past — which is reminiscent of the popular Shonen anime, "Dragon Ball." With that anime being as widely watched as it is, it isn't unthinkable for the animator to have been inspired by it.

The truth behind Yubaba's energy balls

Earlier this year, Studio Ghibli's official Twitter account held a question and answer session. The studio's staff took on the task of answering several fan questions — and mind you, there were many.

One fan questioned whether a scene from "Spirited Away" had been inspired by the anime "Dragon Ball."

The scene in question plays out when Yubaba, an extremely powerful witch and the bath house's boss and ruler, shoots energy balls from her hands at another character. Several fans recognized that the scene — particularly Yubaba's method of shooting energy, shared familiarity with the popular anime. Studio Ghibli responded, agreeing, and shared a never-before-seen image of the scene's storyboard (also drawn by Miyazaki), which features a drawing of Yubaba and is labeled "Dragon Ball style."

As per the tweet, Hayao Miyazaki's explanation was that since Yubaba is "an old woman who can fly," why not give her the magical ability to shoot energy from her fingers? The animator wanted the character's power to be animated similarly to the characters of "Dragon Ball" and made a note of it for the team to follow.

A translation for the tweet reads: "The storyboard says 'Dragon Ball style (laughs). I'm not sure why I hit the bullet, but Miyazaki said, 'Grandmother is an old woman who can swim in the air.'"

Studio Ghibli also addressed whether Chihiro would ever reunite with Haku after the events of the film. In "Spirited Away," it is revealed later that Haku was the water spirit of the old river next to Chihiro's home, which made fans consider that a reunion could be in order, even if the film didn't depict it.

The studio's answer was promising. They simply said, "If she were to ever visit..."