My Neighbor Totoro / Tonari no Totoro
Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Supernatural, Studio Ghibli
First Released: April 1988, 86-minute film
Summary: Professor Tatsuo Kusakabe and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, are moving to the countryside to be closer to their mother, who is hospitalized due to long-term illness. One day Mei encounters a little rabbit-like creature in the yard. She is overcome by curiosity and chases it into the forest, getting lost and falling asleep on a giant, furry grey forest creature. The creatures name, Totoro, is how Mei deciphered its name while it was growling at her. Mei eventually wakes up with the Totoro nowhere to be found. It’s up to her to convince Satsuki that Totoro is real, which would result in their lives becoming filled with magical adventures and countless fantastical creatures of the woods.
My Neighbor Totoro is perhaps the most well-known Studio Ghibli film. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Totoro is a classic movie that has influenced many, even to the point of having Totoro become Studio Ghibli’s unofficial mascot. Joe Hisaishi produced the soundtrack, one of many memorable music collections Hisaishi has created alongside Miyazaki’s films. The story is fairly simple, making it an enjoyable show for all ages.
I like that this movie does not have to use a lot of dialogue to tell its story. There are times that minutes go by and not a word is spoken, but the actions of the characters tell more than words ever could. One scene that comes to mind is when they are waiting for the bus. I love that scene so much and there is minimal dialogue. The lack of speaking makes me pay more attention to the surroundings and the scene as a whole.
The animation is fitting for its time and includes wonderful attention to little details often overlooked in other animation. Totoro has gone through a few English releases over the years. In the 1990s a Fox Video release came out that was not well received. When Disney released the film in 2005 it received proper treatment with a quality translation and excellent voiceover cast, including Dakota and Elle Fanning.
You might enjoy this if: You are looking for a fun and easy movie that the entire family will adore. If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli films and have not seen Totoro, I would recommend you do so.
You might not like it if: Giant grey forest creatures are the stuff of your nightmares.
Note to the Viewer: A Studio Ghibli museum exclusive, Mei and the Kittenbus, was released in 2003. The short film follows an adventure of Mei, the kittenbus, and other cat-type vehicles. All you have to do to view the film is visit the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.
AMV – [totoro] by AMV gray hat