Call Me Chihiro Ending, Explained: Why Did Chihiro Quit? Where Did She Go?

Directed by Rikiya Imaizumi, ‘Call Me Chihiro’ is a Japanese drama movie starring Kasumi Arimura in the lead role. It is based on mangaka Hiroyuki Yasuda’s ‘Chihiro-san’ manga series first published in 2013. The film follows Chihiro, a former sex worker now working at a bento shop in a serene, quiet seaside town. Through her small acts of kindness, Chihiro bonds with several people facing mental struggles and positively impacts their lives. However, Chihiro deals with a looming sense of loneliness she finds difficult to bid away. If you are wondering whether Chihiro overcomes her loneliness and how her story ends, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Call Me Chihiro.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Call Me Chihiro Plot Synopsis

‘Call Me Chihiro’ follows Chihiro, a bright and cheerful young woman who works at the Noko Noko bento shop as a salesgirl. Chihiro lives alone in her apartment but readily interacts with anyone interested in talking to her. Despite her dark past as a sex worker, Chihiro is kind and generous to those around her. She helps an old homeless man by feeding and bathing him. The two often get together and share lunch. Meanwhile, a high school girl named Kuniko “Okaji” Seo feels disjointed from her friends and alienated from her family. However, she is drawn to Chihiro and often clicks the latter’s pictures when she plays with the kids at the park.

Chihiro’s routine includes regularly visiting Tae, the wife of her bento shop owner, who is slowly becoming blind. One day, the old man Chihiro helped take her to an old warehouse with a large manga collection. Sometime later, Chihiro revisits the warehouse searching for the old man. She meets Betchin, a high school girl who visits the place to read mangas. Chihiro bonds with Betchin through their shared love for mangas. However, Chihiro becomes upset after discovering that the old man is dead.

Meanwhile, she meets Okaji, and the two become friends. At the park, Chihiro encounters Makoto, a young boy who tries to prank her. However, Chihiro feeds the boy and befriends him. Chihiro starts hanging out with Makoto and Okaji, and the latter also helps Makoto study. Makoto is raised by a single mother who is often too tired to look after him because of her work. On the other hand, Okaji’s family is very emotionally withdrawn, and her parents are seemingly uninterested in her likes and dislikes. As a result, Makoto and Okaji take a liking to Chihiro, who provides them with warmth and comfort.

Elsewhere, Chihiro also hangs out with Basil, her only adult friend who works at a dance club. While attending a local fair, Chihiro and Basil meet the former’s ex-boss, who has given up on the underworld. He now runs a fish shop and looks after aquatic creatures. Makoto’s mother is unhappy with Chihiro’s growing influence on her son’s life, but Chihiro apologizes for overstepping her boundaries. Chihiro guides Okaji to the warehouse, where she meets Bethcin.

After realizing the girls attend the same high school and share similar interests, Betchin and Okaji quickly become friends. As the people around her are drawn close to Chihiro and each other, Chihiro continues to feel a looming sense of loneliness. Through flashbacks, we learn that Chihiro was a neglected child, explaining her refusal to attend her deceased mother’s funeral. However, during her childhood, Chihiro met a sex worker whose company she enjoyed. The idea for using Chihiro as her work name came from her childhood friend. Eventually, Chihiro takes Tae out, revealing she is the new girl at the bento shop as the women enjoy a peaceful evening.

Call Me Chihiro Ending: Why Did Chihiro Quit? Where Did She Go?

In the movie’s final act, Chihiro invites all her friends to a dinner party to celebrate Tae’s discharge from the hospital. On a beautiful starry night, Chihiro enjoys a nice dinner surrounded by the people whose lives she has touched. Chihiro helps Okaji deal with her family issues while turning Mokoto into a thoughtful son and bonding with Okaji and Mokoto, resulting in a sibling-like bond. She paves the way for her friend Basil to find companionship with her ex-boss and also ensures the confident but lonely Betchin has a friend in Okaji to lean on. However, just as the party starts getting lively, Chihiro retreats to the confines of her loneliness.

After a farewell call with Tae, Chihiro quits her job and moves away. The ending implies that Chihiro is not afraid of the loneliness she harbors. Instead, the kind and gentle-hearted girl fears being surrounded by love as if it would almost make her passive and steal away her sunshine-like personality. Earlier in the movie, we see Chihiro telling Okaji about her theory about people coming from different planets and having a hard time understanding each other. However, occasionally, people meet people from their own planet and effortlessly bond with each other.

Chihiro’s theory comments on the sense of alienation and loneliness one feel despite being in the company of others. However, Chihiro starts feeling a sense of warmth in the company of Tae, Okaji, Mokoto, and others. Moreover, she helps them overcome their sense of alienation and find meaningful relationships. As a result, Chihiro likely believes her job in the seaside town is done and decides to move on. The film ends with Chihiro starting a new life on a farm where she is slowly learning the trade. One can only imagine that Chihiro will continue to heal people and guide them toward each other in her new surroundings. Thus, despite being incomplete, Chihiro’s journey is complete in itself.

Read More: Where Was Netflix’s Call Me Chihiro Filmed?