English: My Neighbor Totoro
Synonyms: My Neighbour Totoro
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 16, 1988
Duration: 1 hr. 26 min.
Rating: G - All AgesL represents licensing company
Score: 8.501 (scored by 134,483 users)
1 indicates a weighted score. Please note that 'Not yet aired' titles are excluded.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.
"My Neighbor Totoro" is Miyazaki's fourth feature film and just like his others it is beautiful to look at and has a charming story, a bit more melancholy then his other works though. Not a whole lot happens in this film but that's why it works. The country home feeling, the large trees and tall grass. Miyazaki explores nature like always and this is defiantly his best forte into it.
The Fannings do a good job in the dubbed version I think. This is for sure a kid friendly film full of cool looking creatures, harmless jokes and amazing animation. Roger Ebert said this is one of the 10 best films for kids ever made. Can't argue with that logic. read more
Whether this was your first anime movie as a newcomer, as a kid, or as a moviegoer, none can contest the brilliance of Miyzaki in developing a world filled with awe and wonder, boundless playfulness and imagination, whilst proficiently capturing the natural innocence and curiosity present in every child, conveying a true sense of realism in the most heartwarming way possible. It's impossible to come out of Totoro without a big smile of satisfaction while feeling peckish for more Miyazaki.
I would call Totoro's aesthetics a marvel considering its time (1988), with the use of tradition cel animation (hand-drawn), adding to the film's fluidity and polish in the realm of character designs and scenery, altogether toning matrimonially with the "friskiness" the music orchestrates.
My Neighbor Totoro is not only a visual spectacle, but also encapsulates childhood in a little box. Even as a story tailor-made for kids, older audiences can still identify and project that sense of accomplishment after finding that four leaf clover or discovering an assortment of big acorns under that big tree, long long ago. read more
My Neighbor Totoro is, simply put, a child's imagination brought to life; fanciful tales that become reality, replete with picturesque wonders that reveal the magical and mysterious. Hidden from adult eyes, the otherworldly rewards only those of pure heart. Spirits and mystic guardians of the forest, they embody the creativity and candidness of children—content to experience the simple joys of life and the beauty of nature. With down-to-earth characterization, Satsuki and Mei are splendid lenses into the film's world, their optimism and enthusiasm ensuring every little discovery resonates with the audience—a magical tale that is an adventure for kids, and an opportunity to revisit childhood for adults; a genuine moment of reflection.
Although the setting lacks depth, My Neighbor Totoro alleviates this by deftly weaving together fantasy and realism. Very little is explained and detailed, but its integration of the imaginary is both natural and unobtrusive. A big house nestled amidst greenery, uninhabited for decades, a likely home to the mysterious. Satsuki and Mei, true to their age, are explorers of the unknown—their interactions with the rich environment are not only a delight to observe, but also a reflection of the curiosity inherent within every child.
Unveiled with mystique, uncanny soot creatures emerge from the house's floor and scamper into the shadows as the heroines enthusiastically tour the dark rooms of their new abode. Even if slightly scared at first, Satsuki and Mei's fear quickly gives way to curiosity, then excitement, and finally delight. The two adventurous sisters stumble upon a new world, and like any child would, wholeheartedly embrace its magic. This very sense of wonder is what leads them to the mythical spirit Totoro, protector and guardian of the forest. Intimidating in size, but gentle in nature, the fuzzy giant embraces the two of them with otherworldly tenderness. In an ever-so-subtle way, he becomes a link between the characters and the forest itself, introducing them to many of its magic wonders.
In essence, My Neighbor Totoro is more about inspiring one's imagination—an honest message about the importance of childhood and a connection with nature—than creating a fantasy backdrop. Complexity is absent, but the presentation is delivered with finesse and flair. Much of this is due to the laid-back pace and the amiable guidance of the protagonists, slowly hinting at the mysteries that may be hidden in the nooks and crannies of dark rooms and lush forests. All the viewer needs to do is to sit down, relax, and enjoy the magic unfold.
Allowing their daughters the liberty to go and explore the surroundings of their new home, Satsuki and Mei's parents are often absent physically, but present in spirit. As caring guardians, the parents concern themselves with their troublesome daredevils in an earnest and honest fashion. These carefree dynamics connect the otherwise distant adult world with the children's, instilling a sense of trust and intimacy among the family. In this sense, Miyazaki makes a conscious effort of displaying human relationships in a sincere and natural style.
True to Ghibli's reputation, My Neighbor Totoro's visuals are masterfully crafted with great attention to even the most minute details. Rich with body language and facial expressions, the screenplay succeeds in the art of showing and not just telling, breathing nuance and realism into the cast's actions and interactions. These subtleties add striking believability to the characters, as adults and children alike look and behave according to their ages. The physical environments, too, are vividly detailed, setting the stage for the integration of the cast and fantasy—be it the cluttered rooms of a house recently moved into, or the green vastness and richness of the countryside.
Likewise, the film's sound department is remarkably well-polished. Joe Hisaishi's compositions harmoniously blend with the mood of the scenes—the tempo is upbeat in situations of excitement and discovery, while smooth when tension is low. The timing is delicate, but more than anything, the tracks themselves are what stand out most. Charming and varied, the melodic tunes make extraordinary scenes even more memorable. The careful management not only soothes body and mind, but also permits the soundtrack to lace key scenes with vivid and meaningful tonality. Interesting to note, though, is that for most of the movie, there is no background music. Instead, focus is placed on environmental sounds, allowing the countryside setting to weave its own atmosphere. In concordance with the naturalistic tone of the story, this adds a more organic touch to the presentation—one focused on painting nature in its purest form.
A tale intended for kids, yet a journey fit for audiences of all ages, My Neighbor Totoro is a splendid story that encapsulates the beauty of childhood. The film's wonderful portrayal of Satsuki and Mei's imagination conveys a true sense of jollity present in most children. Beyond its realism, the film delivers a dazzlingly magical experience by way of its supernatural encounters with the manifestations of nature. But this occurs ever so gently, that one could consider it a dream-like tale that both begins and ends in blissful serenity. A true classic, My Neighbor Totoro will remain in the hearts of many as a heartwarming experience of one of the purest and most beautiful memories: a frolicsome childhood, never to be forgotten.
This review is the final product of a team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The writers were:
Editing was done by:
Don_Don_Kun read more
I always seem to watch this movie or any Studio Ghibli film for that matter, when I am wanting to experience a child-like sense of adventure. Miyazaki does am excellent job of creating a world, in which you would love to explore and experience. From the stellar landscapes, to the loving Characters, it is all here to enjoy.
Overall, please watch this move and many more of Miyazaki's films. They are pure magic. read more
Totoro's story is incredible: it captures the imagination of two girls with very different personalities. Satsuki, the older, responsible girl who takes care of household responsibilities while her mother is sick, and little Mei, a veritable firecracker who's curiosity knows no limits. What made this movie so incredible was how well it captured the imagination of kids their age. Just watching it makes you think back about all those fun things you did when you were younger, whether you're helping your parents with chores or you're outside picking acorns off the grass. I think thanks to this movie, I spent a good chunk of my childhood looking through bushes and trying to find crevices in trees so I could find where Totoro's house was! Ah, lots of memories...
Miyazaki's artwork is stunning. Despite the fact that by now, it's obviously somewhat older, the animation is still superior to anything Disney can throw at us. His specialization in artwork of nature make this film a delightful piece of eye candy.
The music! How cute! The opening sounds like one of those little tunes my mother would sing to me in Korean when I was younger. I've always loved the music in Miyazaki's movies and this one is no exception.
Totoro is easily still my favorite movie in the world for over a decade. Highly recommended to watch, rewatch, and watch with everyone else. read more
This is one of the most poorly written and bland stories I have ever come across. Unfortunately, in this movie, they tried a little to hard in getting the appeal from audiences that were below the age to even comprehend what a plot is. The story moves along at an incredibly slow pace. This is problematic because is makes the movie lose any potential excitement. Another thing that wasn't well executed was the fantastical elements. Since the story revolves around two young girls and their father, you get the cliche about how the kids can see this creature but the adults can't. This isn't where I would pigeon-hole the movie's downfall in quality, but I found the unrealistic occurrences as the primary issue, not the cliche. If this happened in real life, any kid would be scared out of their mind after seeing this huge raccoon, rabbit hybrid. Most of the time, the main character (the older sister) is acting like Totoro is just a normal person.
Like most Ghibli movies, it had a very distinct art and animation style that makes it easy recognizable. So in no way can I call a Ghibli movie bad, and this one is no exception. But there is still an underlying issue in spite of that. The animators and visual artists weren't willing to experiment. Trying out new things is extremely important in the aspect of art in any visual presentation. This is because it allows innovation that can easily lead to novelty in such a department. It adds variety to the medium of animation as a whole. But this movie's artists just ignored all of that and decided to keep the same old formula that they usually do.
The sound was another major disappointment. Nothing was able to grab me. Just like the art, the music and sound has the exact same feel as any Ghibli movie. If they would have changed the music genre to fit the setting, it probably would have been more exciting. One way being to enhance the mysteriousness by composing the music as more ominous during some scenes rather than the same lightheartedness that easily becomes annoying after watching so many movies of the same atmosphere.
The characters are almost as bad as the overall story. Not a single one of them are exciting in any way. They are just incredibly bland. The father is just a father, the older sister is just an older sister, and the baby is just a baby. None of them are complex in any way. But you might be thinking "It's a kids movie so their not suppose to be complex" but this argument is hugely flawed. Just because the movie is meant for kids doesn't mean that the characters can't be given traits that adults can analyze and relate to in any mature way such as satire or allegory. Any well characterized narrative has something identifiable that separates it in terms of the relationships between the characters and their profile. This movie simply gives every single one of them an archetype and expects you to be captivated by the ordinary family who comes across a magical creature.
In conclusion, My Neighbor Totoro isn't worth the watch at all. It was a struggle to get through, for me. There are plenty of other Miyazaki/Ghibli movies that are a lot more enjoyable. read more
Visuals: Totoro features the typical Miyazaki art style. The animation looks stunning, and has aged very nicely, especially considering when this came out. Totoro was created in the 80s, and it looks nicer than anime from the late 90s-early 2000s.
Audio: The sound was also nice given the time period
Characters: The characters aren't anything extraordinary, but they're defiantly portrayed in a way that makes them seem like real people.
Overall, My Neighbor Totoro is a good, classic, family movie, though it's very small in scope and in my opinion, lacks sufficient conflict read more
The story begin with two sister , Mei and Satsuki on a truck with their father , they are moving to their new home which is where the whole story revolves around. Their new home, their new place in the world. At first I didn't really understand the whole purpose of Totoro. I know the title of the film is based around him, but i didn't see much purpose to him being there. it was just basically a little magical element added in. And it suppose to show that someone is there for those girls. There wasn't much to the plotline, but I enjoyed it still immensely. There were times near the end where you sat up straighter because of the heart felt scene thats happening, and you feel all fuzzy when Totoro appears to help. I felt that the characters of Satsuki and Mei were definitely played more here. The role of the older sister watching over the younger one, the whole misinterpreting what each other really means and getting into a squabble.
~ ART ~
The same style that has been used over and over again which never in my mind seems to lose its quality. The best character design would be the more magical creatures especially the cat bus, its so cute! The furry lining seemed so warm and cuddly that you yourself just want to go on and sit there enjoying the ride. The next ones in my favourite character design would have to be Totoro, Chibi-Totoro, and Chu-Totoro. Again, so damn cute! Weird creatures, but loveable look created for them the same.
~ SOUND ~
The sounds of this film didn't really stick with me as do some other Studio Ghibli animations, the music score didn't really hit me, so the music therefore must have been good enough to accompany what I was watching that I didn't really notice it. i do remember some parts of the film where i did listen. The background music really did fit into the whole action at that time. the rain began to fall and you could feel as if something magical was going to happen by the music. You just knew.
~ ENJOYMENT ~
Definitely enjoyable! Loved every minute of it when i was younger and when i watched it again when i was older. I think this is the kind of film which can be enjoyed by just about everyone.
~ OVERALL ~
Its an easy enough film to watch. If you want depth, you won't really find it here. Its sentimental at the most. Its a magical experience that you will get. read more
The Story was very good. While I sort of imagined the plot to be more of a direct adventure with Totoro. The plot flowed nicely and it was convincing. At some parts, it made me all teary.
The art was fantastic! The scenery and lively character movement was drawn so well.
For its time, the movie had good sound quality... nothing to complain about.
The character development was absolutely flawless. I absolutely adored the characters, and the characters were well developed. While I couldn't relate to them, they were realistic, in which they played there ages and roles very well. read more
Even thought it might been more based towards girls, it still stayed neutral as a soiled stone for both genders.
The story here is rather simple but still has a very detailed view on things that happens around it, it doesn't focus just on one thing (like defeat the EVIL monster or find that person) no it goes from 2 girls just moving in with their dad to an adventure with an Creature called Totoro.
- Which for a kid were really an inspiration for the beautiful nature we have (even though we don't really have a cat bus or cool old houses, it still show us how beautiful the surrounding is).
Even then it doesn't stop there - It even show us a bit of drama and emotions we as a child could feel (Sadness, anger, disappointed) and not just Happy-go-lucky.
The art in the movie for it's time was actually like looking into the futuristic anime's we have today.
The style was really well (even in VCR it looks amazing) done and almost felt like a dream to watch at.
The sound here is really, really good structured, you really get to know when stuff happens like something interesting is going on or something sad happen.
The Characters in the movie is really interesting but I do think the two sisters were rather overly excited (and the dad) about everything we as a kid were afraid of (at least me), like ghosts, old houses, odd creatures, etc.
But here I would then say it was actually a good thing since it did then bring up some more courage to us that we didn't have to be afraid of anything.
As a Child I Enjoyed this movie very much and even today the same movie is now as it was back then but you have now know what all these things were which you didn't know back then.
As a recommendation not only to children but to almost anyone out there who likes to take things sometimes back in time and slow.
My Neighbor Totoro is hard to synopsize because of the tranquil and laid back first half. I suppose it would suffice to say that this classic 1988 Studio Ghibli movie is about the innocent fun of two little sisters who move into a house in a village, along with their father, only to find out that the picturesque place can be more mysterious than they thought. My Neighbor Totoro has bagged several awards over the years and helped bring Japanese animation into the global spotlight.
The basic driving force behind the story is this: Don’t you want to be a kid again? Don’t you want to go back to the days when your only responsibilities were to show up at school and be home on time? Don’t you want to look forward to each day, because there was always something new to learn, find and discover? This universal, yet eternally successful theme is what made My Neighbor Totoro click. The story is so beautifully crafted that kids look at this movie as the adventures of two sisters, while adults while adults perceive this anime to be a timeless classic that will forever remind them of their innocent childhood.
Another positive aspect of the story is that it’s character driven, but not in the traditional sense. Instead of developing the characters or making them take on hard decisions, this movie’s characters are the diamonds in the rough because of their simple and lifelike charms. They think, act and behave just like any curious and energetic children of their age would. The two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, are sure to inspire kids and bowl over adults with their sweet and loveable attitudes. The seiyu also deserve a lot of credit here, because they bring out all the energy and emotions necessary for their roles.
If you were wondering why I didn’t make a mention of Totoro, the giant chubby ferret/forest spirit, it’s because he is (in my opinion at least) present for appealing to the kids and doesn’t really play an important role otherwise. A contributor to the entertainment (and cuteness, if you like) factor.
I got my hands on a re-mastered DVD edition of this one, so I won’t be able to judge the quality of the original theatrical/VHS version. Still, you can’t make a good sculpture without good clay, so I think it’s safe to say that the art was outstanding. The backgrounds were very neat and looked exactly like a 1950s Japanese village. Characters were drawn in trademark Ghibli style, which is never a bad thing. A perfect ten.
The soundtrack added to the straightforward atmosphere of the show. Nothing fancy, just the good old piano. The OP, Stroll, was a nice upbeat song that reminded me of The Sound of Music, especially the English version.
This anime would get a sure ten from any kid who’s below 10, but looking at it from a more mature perspective, My Neighbor Totoro does have some minor issues which deny it the perfect score. Because of its age, it is rather predictable and I felt the mood swing from the lax and serene atmosphere from the first half to the more fast paced and fantastical approach to the second half was a little unnecessary. The fantasy aspect is played around with to please kids, but older viewers might not approve. The dialogue and script could’ve been a tad tighter too. But that’s about all the flaws I can come up with, after a lot of time I spent on nitpicking.
Regardless of whether you’re a kid, adult, otaku, casual viewer or just plain bored, My Neighbor Totoro is most certainly worth your time.
[ THE WRAP-UP ]
My Neighbor Totoro is a landmark anime that garnered critical appeal and international fandom. Although primarily intended for children, this 90 minute movie is bound to appeal to the taste buds of anyone, even if they’re not a big fan of anime. The story is uncomplicated and easy to watch, which is always a good thing if you’re looking for something nice and comfy. The undeniable charm of the characters also adds to the realistic atmosphere of this Studio Ghbili movie. Despite its release date, the animation is solid, just like the fitting soundtrack. My Neighbor Totoro is an anime that gained mainstreamed recognition and popularity for good reason. In other words, watch it.
The story was just unique. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it – and originality is always a good thing. It had me watching closely the whole time. It’s a story for kids and kids at heart alike.
It was like watching a Dr. Seuss story come to life, except it has a Miyazaki spice to it. Another good thing about it is that it’s easy to understand, but not so easy that it’s dumb.
The characters were all very likable. I like adorable Mei, and her doting older sister Satsuki. I also love how their father is so child like – he’s definitely not one of those stern looking dads. Finally, Totoro and is companions were fun to watch. I kinda want to meet him myself.
And because it’s a Miyazaki movie, you’d expect that it’s another well animated movie. Animation – wise, I wouldn’t say it’s his best work I’ve seen, but the animation is still noteworthy. The movement was very fluid and the illustrations were all very detailed. It was like watching a Children’s water colored story book in motion.
The music is also very nice. I like both the opening and ending themes, as well as the BGM. Everything was very upbeat and cheerful, definitely something kids would like to hear, but all tracks were very nicely done.
It’s definitely one timeless story that rivals Disney’s greatest works. Another must see from the genius known as Hayao Miyazaki. read more
- Duck Soup
Sisters Satsuki and Mei love each other; as affectionate playmates, they grow under their scholarly father’s calm and accepting hand. He doesn’t dismiss their play, nor does he inflate it in the artificial way that adults do; he simply acknowledges their wonder, without rationalizations. The one shadow in this world awash with sunshine is that their mother can’t be with them yet. But Satsuki and Mei are growing up at a time when neighbors still come by to welcome newcomers and lend a hand, and the neighborhood grandmother is everyone’s grandma.
At its most lyrical, My Neighbor Totoro shows life as it floats, free and easy, in a stream of happiness. When a sorrow arises, it isn’t out of the blue; it’s an undercurrent running through the highest and lowest undulations of life. It can be answered by the staring, unblinking eyes of the largest and sleepiest of forest spirits. Mei takes to Totoro almost immediately, as a lark knows the morning. Satsuki is thankful for his companionship when she struggles to bear up as the big sister. At the darkest moment, a lithe and grinning cat can transport the frightened children to the tree nearest their longed-for mother. I think that is one of the messages in the after-scenes that accompany the credits: Totoro has magic because Father does finally come home on the last evening bus, and Mother really did just have a cold, and returns to shower Satsuki and Mei with her graces of fellowship and fun. It’s when Father and Mother fail – something as inevitable as death, really – that children develop the quiet and resolved endurance and effort which so enrich the world. But that’s another story, for a later time.
Three obligatory comments:
First, the animation. Satsuki and Mei explore every corner and crevice of their new home; they walk, march, run, and crawl on all fours through sunny rice patches and shaded forests. It’s as if nature itself is infused with a natural joy that never reproaches the children’s fun. Which, of course, it is; and his name is Totoro.
Second the music. I can’t remember the last time I watched an anime where the music itself was a character; when Satsuki, Mei and Totoro play together in that wonderful scene, the theme is heard in a full-throated orchestral fragment, as if it were “the overflowing of brim-ful gladness.” Feeling lethargic or blue? The opening theme (“Totoro, go, go, go! Energetic! I like walking most”) serves as an animated companion.
Third, the voice characterizations. The dubbed version with the Fanning sisters sounds interesting. In reality, the universal themes and expressive and thoughtful character designs of My Neighbor Totoro speak for themselves. When the wind beats against the roof, bangs the pots and rattles the doors, the family’s boisterous belly-laughs fill more than the animation – it rolls over into the three dimensional world and straight into the heart.
It's about two sisters -- Satsuki and spunky little Mei -- moving with their somewhat scatterbrained but loving father to a new home in the Japanese countryside. But the place isn't just deserted; wonders galore lie within their household. Tiny, fuzzy black balls of soot ("Soot Gremlins", or "dust bunnies", depending on which English version you watch--but more on that later) scatter every nook and cranny of the walls, frightened away only by laughter. A tall, luscious camphor tree towers above the other trees in the back yard.
And, lastly, the Totoros themselves, absolutely adorable little creatures who look like a cross between a raccoon, rabbit, owl, and guinea pig (a personal bias here, since I owned such a pet who reminds me so much of the Totoros here), live in this very forest, carrying acorns, making huge trees grow at night, and playing ocarinas on the branches of the trees. There is even one really big Totoro who sleeps under the tree, so cuddlesome and gentle that you'll swear that he's the equivalent of your pet. Of course, he doesn't just allow Mei to snuggle on his chest. He lets out thunderous roars, shake the ground by jumping with full force, grins as wide as a Cheshire cat (albeit with warmth and generosity), helps others when they're in trouble, and gives acorns wrapped in bamboo leaves in return for gifts.
Arguably the most memorable creation in the movie aside from the Totoros is a giant, ginger-colored cat who takes on the form of a bus, with glowing yellow eyes for the headlights and twelve--count 'em, twelve--legs to roam around the countryside faster than the speed of light (I swear, I'm not making this up). Like Totoro himself, he shares a wide, infectious grin showcasing generosity and warmth. The Cat Bus only appears two times in the movie, yet every minute we see him in is a delight.
What gives My Neighbor Totoro its heart is in the characterizations of the girls who propel the story as well as their family and neighbors. Satsuki and Mei are portrayed as real, believeable children with their strengths and weaknesses. Satsuki is the older of the two, and at times comes across as bossy, yet she is a sweet, caring young girl and obviously cares for her little sister. Mei, the youngest, is also the most interesting--bursting with uncontrollable energy and curiosity just like any girl her age would; she constantly demands attention, occasionally competes with her sister, throws fits of frustration, and all around, absolutely adorable. Their father, who, as mentioned, is a bit of an oddball yet very patient and supportive of his girls, cares for the duo.
Their next-door neighbor is Granny (Nanny), an equally loving and helpful old woman who comes to help the girls when their father isn't around. Her grandson, Kanta, meanwhile, is that typical, impish young boy from everyone's childhood; he does not know how to deal with girls his age, and initially the best way he can communicate with Satsuki is to tease her, "your house is haunted!" Naturally, this begins a series of humorous scenes where we see the two of them exchange rude faces at each other. Later on, however, when Satsuki and Mei are strolling home from school in the rain, Kanta shows by to lend them his umbrella, and even proves to be a true friend, especially during the finale. Characters as interesting and well defined as this are what makes a movie (or Anime series, TV or OVA) gripping from start to finish, and like most Ghibli movies, My Neighbor Totoro's cast is the kind that one can identify with or relate to.
The story isn't all hearts and flowers, however. An emotionally charged subplot involving the sisters' ailing mother (shades of Miyazaki's personal life here) gives Totoro a dramatic edge. This is particularly evident in the third act, when the girls receive a distressing telegram about their mother. Both Satsuki and Mei are extremely traumatized by this as any real child would be if such a situation occurred in their lifetime. Mei gets upset and throws a temper tantrum; Satsuki loses patience and lashes out at her sister. Later Mei sets off for her mother's hopsital, igniting an intense yet understated climax where Satsuki and everyone else around the neighborhood tries to search for the missing youngster. Of course, everything turns out happily, but not before these emotionally charged sequences pry tears from the viewer's eyes. This mixture of real-life situations, emotions, and magical discoveries found in your nearest back yard make Totoro feel authentic (even with its dreamy, childlike fantasy sequences). One cannot help but find this quality in any of Miyazaki's films, this one included.
My Neighbor Totoro was not a box office success in either Japan or America, but the film has won over millions of children around the world as well as animation buffs for its gorgeous animation style; the backgrounds are lavishly detailed and imagination is galore in much of the sequences. (It was Kiki's Delivery Service that would catapult Miyazaki's animation company, Studio Ghibli, into box office success status.) As for the musical side of things, Joe Hisaishi supplies a very memorable score which recaptures the childlike innocence and wonder we see in many of the sequences; the theme for Totoro himself is infectiously catchy as is the bouncy march song over the opening credits. And while it is sparsely used (and sometimes not as grand sounding as his later scores), Hisaishi's music, whenever we hear it, is a fitting accompaniment to the movie.
The movie was originally dubbed into English by Carl Macek and his infamous company, Streamline Pictures in 1993. Believe it or not, this was one of the "best" dubs they've ever produced. As Disney has acquired the rights for Ghibli's movies, though, it was inevitable that they would produce their own version. This has infuriated many, but as someone who fell in love with Totoro with the Mecak version, I have to say that this new Disney production offers charm and emotion on its own ground. The script is a fresh new translation from the original Japanese (clarifying the origin of Totoro's name), and remains faithful to the meaning of Miyazaki's screenplay, despite a few line changes here and there (nothing major, though).
At first, I was a little worried about hearing Dakota and Elle Fanning as Satsuki and Mei, but both ended up captivating me from the start; personally, I think it was great for Disney to cast two actual sisters to play the young girls--it helps their chemistry come alive. The other actors, including a warm, understated Tim Daly, and delightful Lea Salonga provide similarly top quality work. My favorite performances? Pat Carroll, displaying maternal charm and whimsy as Granny (not sounding anything like her most-famous role, Ursula from The Little Mermaid), and Frank Welker, who does outstanding vocal foley for both Totoro and the Cat Bus. The OP and ED songs have the same lyrics, but are sung by a different singer (Sonya Isaacs), who may please some and annoy others. I'm sure that there will be many who will draw comparisons between the two dubs to the very bitter end, but I think it's great to have more than one adaptation of a beloved story, especially when done by folks who obviously love Miyazaki's works.
However you decide to view this film, however, My Neighbor Totoro is far from just another kid's story. With a little bit of luck, grown-ups (and those who consider themselves too "sophisticated" for cartoons) will enjoy it too. read more
The story is a simple one of two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who moved to the country side with their father to be closer to the hospital where their ill mother is staying. They quickly get settled into their new place residence and get acquainted with their new neighbors. As they explore their new home, they discover the wonders of the country side, notably three strange creatures, including the gigantic and beneficent Totoro. And honestly, that is all there is to the plot.
Judging by that summery, this movie could be an hour and a half snooze-fest, but against all odds it isn't. Not much might happen, but what does happens has a simple, almost indescribable beauty to it. A lot of this comes from Miyazaki's visual mastery, his eye for nature and knack for breathing life into everything he animates. The movie captures the wide open fields, rivers, lakes, and forests of the rural country side simply but beautifully. The art work is so lush and well detailed, it is easy to get lost in; I often felt like I was there in the brush, amongst the wilderness.
Just as impressive is the careful animation of the people and creatures, especially that the two sisters. Satsuki and Mei's expressive faces and body language are those of a real child. Satsuki is the precocious, responsible and adventurous older sister; Mei is the attached younger sister that often mimics big sis, but is happy to go on adventures of her own. Seeing them explore and interact with the world around them, one gets the genuine feeling of watching two kids playing around. The mystical creatures they encounter have an sort of mascot look to them, especially Tororo and the Cat Bus (Heck, Totoro did become Ghibli's mascot), but still move and feel like they are alive. The movie is just so exquisitely animated.
Of course, it is Satsuki and Mei that are the heart and soul of the movie. It is their curiosity and sense of wonder that gives the already gorgeous art a magic that makes the movie truly special, and there innocence that gives power to the movie's theme of growing up. For Mei in particular every bush, trail, and even the inside of her own house holds an adventure; something new to discover. Untainted by the complications of the grown up world, Mei sees the world in a nice, simple, and generally pleasant light with a hint of hesitation without her father or older sister around. Satsuki shares Mei's sense of adventure, but being a little older, she is also learning that the world is more complicated than the innocence of childhood that she has known til now. This shows in the last third of the movie, in which Satsuki is faced with possibilities she is not ready for (which I will not get into, the plot is so simple it is easy to spoil). Suddenly, the optimistic innocence she is so familiar with disappears, replaced by worries of the worst possible outcome. It is a quite, maturely understated revelation that childhood eventually ends. However, the movie ends with the same light-hearted optimism it began with, holding onto a piece of that childish innocence even with the knowledge kids will one day grow out of it to some degree.
My Neighbor Totoro is a movie of simple pleasures. It spends most of its time indulging in the beauty of nature, and the magic of a child's heart. There are glimpses of life beyond childhood and the complications that come with maturity, however, the movie never allows them to completely eclipse the joys and youthful enthusiasm of adolescence. And that is what makes it so special. Where many other stories portray growing out of childhood as hard and harsh, Totoro handles it gently but knowingly; an approach as wonderful as it is rare.
"My Neighbour Totoro" is a delightful film that most young children - as well as a good proportion of older viewers - are sure to enjoy. It's not a particularly deep film, nor a particularly exciting film. At the heart of it, it's a simple tale about a family relocating to the countryside and the children meeting some weird and wonderful creatures, but it is so much more than that. The magic is in the characters, for "My Neighbour Totoro" is filled with some of the cutest, most iconic characters in anime. And amongst these unforgettable characters, it's the big, adorably fluffy King Totoro himself that steals the show, so it's fitting he is somewhat of a mascot for Studio Ghibli the way Mickey Mouse is for Disney.
Fantastically weird non-human characters maybe a trait in Miyazaki films, but so are rather less interesting human ones, and "My Neighbour Totoro" inherits both of these traits. The human character has a familiar look about them, as though they're the bloodline relatives to the characters from other Miyazaki movies. Then there's the much used tomboy girl and the boy who wants to make friends with her set up that Miyazaki so likes to use. However, in the midst of these recycled characters, I do like Mei, who's like the adorable little sister that everyone would love to have.
Like a lot of other Miyazaki films, "My Neighbour Totoro" does contain a dose of the usual environmental messages, but this isn't Miyazaki in one of his more preachy moods. In this film, the message isn't forced upon us, instead it is gently conveyed across by opening our eyes to the wonders of life. Totoro himself is like a kind of guardian of the forest, doing rain dances, making the trees spring up, all in a very lovable manner. For sure, a lot of the stuff is made up - obviously, in reality there are no creatures like Totoro that can perform miracles such as accelerating the growth of trees etc, but beneath all the imagination, the feelings and the message themselves are very genuine. This is helped along by the beauty of the artwork - I may not be a fan of Miyazaki's human character designs, but the beautifully drawn natural scenaries are as stunning as always.
Even though this is film is rather uneventful - there aren't really any particularly dramatic or epic events, but it succeeds because there's a sense joy that's prevalent throughout. For instance the scene where Mei bounces up and down on the fluffy belly of Totoro, and another where rain drops falls repeatedly onto the nose of a rather dopey looking Totoro... these are all simple scenes, but they're scenes that are bursting with pure, innocent charm. It's these little things that makes "My Neighbour Totoro" a bit special, and it's these little things that makes it one of my favourites from the Ghibli collection. read more
After all, Tonari no Totoro is the first anime and probably even the first full-length film I ever saw. It is the key that opened the first door towards the wonderful world of anime, manga and the whole japanese culture itself. I'm not such a type that has certain idols/authorities behind my ideologies but if there's one, it is definitely Hayao Miyazaki.
When I try to explain to someone how incredible this movie is, I almost can't put it in understandable words (like even now). With an innocent, simple and pure storyline, Studio Ghiblis outstanding animation, Joe Hisaishis B E A U T I F U L music and imaginative characters like makkuro kurosukes, you get an experience that takes away all your troubles and sorrow and turns you from the beginning till the ending of credits into a full 100% optimistic person. It may not be exactly like that (for me it was), but I can assure, that after you have seen this movie, you are NOT disappointed.
PS warning: The opening theme will make you feel like you're a 4 year old again! read more
As a 20 year old male I am extremely outside the target audience for this movie. Yes, this movie is for kids. In fact I'd go as far to say that this is one of the best movies for children of all time. It's a simple story. It's also an incredibly happy movie. You feel better after watching it. I can see having this movie watched over and over again by my kids when I'm a father. It's just cute and safe.
But if you consider yourself an anime fan, and you like the Miyazaki movies you've seen so far, and even though you are probably outside the target demographic, you have to see this movie! If anything just to see the movie that gave Studio Ghibli its mascot.
ART: Consistent, good quality in animation can do wonders for the experience, and this work is another fantastic example of Studio Ghibli's dedication to their art. The scenery in the film is immersive, and the world painted before our eyes is just out of reach, detached pleasantly from reality. The animation is not on par with the works Ghibli produces today, but the animation is still fantastic.
SOUND: The voice acting is good, and the sisters' actors are pleasantly convincing. However, their father always sounds less happy than he appears. Also, the acting for the different Totoro sounds too human for their completely non-human appearances. Although there won't be many musical moments that will stick with you after the viewing, the music is charming and fits perfectly with the events taking place. The show's audio succeeds in making this already joyous world more delightful.
CHARACTER: The characters of Totoro are relentlessly likable. Even though there is little character development, the everyday life appeal of these characters is so genuine and endearing. Yet as fun as these characters are, the lack of character progression leaves a longing for more. The glimpse into their lives is all too brief, which can be good and bad, showing just how attached you can become to this little family. Yet this element is a slight detriment to the power and draw of each character.
ENJOYMENT: Totoro is utterly delightful. The show is meant to put the viewer into the best mood possible, and it succeeds on many levels. The scenes are creative and curious and the characters make you laugh and smile. As endearing and involving as the show can be, the plots avoid hitting on the heart strings and emotions. Thus, at no point does the show place the viewer in suspense and tension, allowing the show to be pleasantly blissful.
OVERALL: My Neighbor Totoro is a movie brimming to the rim with fun and games. What really makes Totoro work is how openly the film acknowledges its simple, child-like style. Sometimes overly optimistic titles can overwhelm viewers with unrealistic and unnecessary happiness. With Totoro the film is happy but not overly so. There is realism within the fantastical here, and that realism makes the joy and laughter genuine, grounded, and accessible. My Neighbor Totoro is a story for all ages within the vessel of a children's fable. read more
My Neighbor Totoro is that rare exception, a story about 'the magic of childhood' that is absolutely equal to its subject.
The things in the movie that are imaginary are wonderfully imagined. But no less wonderful are the things that are clearly real--from the relationship between the sisters and their father to the few incidental frames of background animation that remind you what it's like to catch a glimpse of a fish in a stream. The world of the movie and its characters are so detailed and specific, so well-observed, that you believe in them utterly; then, when the whole thing begins to steer towards 'magical realism', you believe that too.
My Neighbor Totoro is well past being a good anime. It's a great movie, and an artistic accomplishment that demonstrates the potential of the medium. If you're reading this site, odds are you're familiar with the director, Hayao Miyazaki. Totoro was my first exposure to Miyazaki, my 'gateway drug' to the world of anime, and I remain in the debt of the person who sat me down in front of it. If comics, or animation, or imagination are important to you, you owe it to yourself to see this movie. read more