"Spirited Away" was released in in July 2001. Most Studio Ghibli movies were released in July, and in Japan, I feel this is especially significant in the case of "Spirited Away" and " When Marnie Was There " because it is the Obon season, a time when Japanese believe the spirits of their ancestors walk the earth and return to their furusato (hometown). That time period (mid-July to August) is, much like New Year's week, a hard time to get things done in Japan due to the various celebrations and the people who leave on vacation. We do learn later in the movie that the character on the first building, 正, is part of a combination 正月 which we translate to mean New Year.
Even if we want to reject the Hollywood mindset, there is no denying that much thought and planning goes into making a movie. Just one scene can have hundreds of camera shots (all planned out in advance) with a firm starting place and a specific end in mind. Such brainstorming skills are a must with our student writers. Actually, planning a scene somewhat resembles the prewriting strategies used for essay writing only it has the potential to interest the student more than simply creating an outline for yet, another paper. Ultimately students will still need to write that essay – however, teaching the students how to think about a scene (essay) from beginning to end with a storyboard (outline) can help them practice those needed skills in an enjoyable setting.