Childhood is a blossoming period of learning and developing one's own idiosyncrasies. It has always been a sedate stage in which little youngsters define themselves through their senseless antics—ones that appear innocent but are of an elusive nature, and are merely an inadvertent expression of the capricious phase that is childhood. However, since kids are so full of youthful tendencies, very few directors have managed to portray the rascals in a sincere and realistic manner. But among those select few is an irreplaceable Ghibli film which has become a sensation both within its native community and the western world—and that film is Hayao Miyazaki's My
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:
I remember Totoro was my favorite anime. I'd pop it in the VCR player (yes, old school, I know) and watching it with my little brother when I was a little girl. Somewhere around 14 years later, it's still my favorite movie, and probably always will be.
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.
Before the "what the fuck is wrong with you, a 5 on a ghibli movie, kill yourself" settles in, I want to assure you that the movie did everything that it set out to be outstandingly and if I was from that target audience, I would probably consider it nothing short of a masterpiece. I usually prefer to criticize a show for what it tried to be but failed while presenting every factor I deemed important about the movie and why eventually it was only an average experience for me. In this case, I don't have a lot to criticize on what the movie actually
tried to do because it was succesful in what it did. So all I can present is what factored into my experience only a 5 with what the movie has had done and has not done.
Starting with the movie's strong suits, the artistic side of it is outstanding. While the obligatory "for its time, it looks incredible" compliment must be said, I'll do one more and say that for our time, I wish people would pay as much attention to detail in animation as was done in Tonari no Totoro and would look at least half as good. The animation has plenty of small details throw in that makes each frame look lively and realistic. As an example there will be some scenes with children crying. Have you ever seen someone cry in an anime? I will assume that most of the time, depending on what you watch of course, crying doesn't rise any red flags. However, watching a child cry in this made me realize something. Most people don't even put any effort into the way they display someone crying and see it as something simple and easy to portray. However, in Totoro, when the child started crying I could see the range of emotions she went through and react realistically, the same way any child of that age would. All down to the point of starting to cry silently because she was upset then up to the outburst of emotion, screaming and bawling as soon as she was given attention again the way children do when they are given attention in these situations. It may seem a ridiculous thing to pick out the level of detail for animation, but that's what I found most impressive. The range of emotions displayed in a few frames was done as right as anyone could ever do them and I can't imagine someone outdoing this kid.
Ok, now the movie so far was 10/10 children cry real. Anyway, up next I'm gonna talk about, more of the art, and rather, its significance in this movie. You see there's a point to the art actually being this well animated and that is that its goal is to be as captivating as anything can be. Yeah, sure, anything has to be captivating, but in this situation, you have to keep in mind, the audience was intended to be children. Children are impressionable. And I assure this was artstyle was very impressive if it still is today back then. But the reason it also has to be captivating it is because it's trying to display the innocence of children, which is the artistic goal of the movie. Which it does. Quite well. To the point where everyone praises it. So I praised it on that front enough. But I have to add, since its audience seemed to have been children, it has build an impressive world with imaginative designs in a realistic looking manner. To the point where adults can watch it to feel like a kid again and children can watch it to be amazed by the movie's world.
But here's where my praise stops and my gripes with the movie starts... well... you see... I was bored. Yes, despite the amazingly looking visuals that occasionally made me so impressed I forgot all about how bored I was for a short while and despite being 100% on board with what the movie has displayed, I still was bored. Why? Because it is mostly comprised of the children fucking around and showing off how well designed everything is, as well as put focus on what they're trying to display in the movie. The movie piles on a lot and a lot of scenes together for artistic value and to continuously display how innocent a child is. I get it. So what?
What do you mean "so what?", that's the point of the movie?
Yes, and why would I watch something solely meant to display that. Quite frankly, there's a lot of things intended for kids that are sweet, innocent and whatnot and have a point in their story, even if simple and meant for children to understand and teach them good values. However this movie spends an hour on children and then realizes something needs to happen as for the story to have some sort of tension by the point where you'd have ingrained the target audience into your brain and know everything's gonna be alright. The story is a tool to display art, rather than to display a engaging narrative.
Yeah, but the story's goal was to show off the children's innocence. It's only your fault if you can't appreciate that.
Yeah, finally something that we can agree. Frankly if you enjoy a movie that is artistic and the theme that I've described in the review, it will be outstanding. But do you enjoy stories? Do you enjoy it when you learn something? Do you enjoy it when you see someone have some sort of struggle and have some type of conflict? Do you enjoy it when something you watch tries to drive home a point or multiple points? Are you entertaining by these things? Because they are absent here. As a child or enough of a childlike mentality, you could admire and yonder or feel nostalgic over how your own childhood was due to the movie, but, if that's not what you're looking for... You're likely to get bored... just like me. Unless you're watching it for the amazing visuals. In which case, congratulations again.
Most often times when something succeeds in what it sets out to be it is often free of criticism because there is no point to it because it's already succeeded. But just because it succeeded in something doesn't mean it will succeed in entertaining you. If narrative is something you really want in the movie, a series of connected events that do drive a point across, this is not something you should watch. If you value the artistic side of a show more than anything, this is a masterpiece that you should not miss, this movie is for you.
It's often easy to get carried away in the everyday vices and tribulations of life. We often want to reminisce and look back on the better days, full of adventure and enjoyment. Well, this movie does an excellent job of bringing me back to that feeling. It is full of heart-whelming adventure, and exploration.
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.
My Neighbor Totoro is the flagship of Ghibli and one of the first Japanese animated feature films to receive wide critical acclaim in the west. As much as its successor 'Spirited Away' capitalized further in terms of revenue, Totoro stands as one of the most influential anime, with the ubiquitousness of Totoro plushies and pop culture references to it still present today. But there are reasons beyond its success that attributes it as a must watch on the checklist of any avid fan of anime.
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.
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.
I was down with the flu and I was curled up in my room, looking for something cozy to watch. Flipping through my collection, I suddenly remembered the My Neighbor Totoro DVD I had received as a gift a while back. Needless to say, I popped it into my player, sat back and had one of the most relaxing and peaceful 90 minutes of my life.
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.
Tonari no Totoro - Would be one of the best Animes I saw when I saw little.
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.
What more can be said about My Neighbor Totoro? Get this movie. Immediately. Without a doubt one of the best animated features ever made, Japan or otherwise, Totoro is an outstanding original creation from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.
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.
"My Neighbor Totoro" is an absolute wonderful film. This movie can be loved by any no matter whose age. Totoro has even become the mascot of Studio Ghibli, and even appears in the logo before almost every Ghibli film starts. There's no villain involved, it's just filled with delightful characters, memorable moments, and just pure imagination.
The two main characters Mei and Satsuki are played by real life siblings/actresses Dakota and Elle Fanning (Note, I did not see the 1988 version released by 20th Century Fox, I watched the 2005 Walt Disney redub.), who I admired most in the movie because they don't act like they're
reading off a script or anything like that, but they act like actual siblings throughout, and that's the kind of charm that I liked in the movie. And since this a Studio Ghibli film, this one is brought to us by the head master, Hayao Miyazaki.
The two little girls are moving to a new house in a small village with their father. Their mother is in the hospital sick, so they wait patiently for her to come to their new home. As soon as they come in, they see specks of black dust that live in their attic, which an elderly nanny hired by their father explains that those specks of dust are soot sprites, and says that if you leave them alone or even make some laughter, then they'll go away.
One day, while the father is working at home, and the elder sister Satsuki is at school, Mei is seen playing around the new house when she comes across a small mouse/cat creature leaving trails of acorns. She follows it into the woods and goes into an imaginative part of the forest, and finds a gigantic version of that creature sleeping heavily, with no dialogue with the exception of a few grunts and the sounds of the words "Totoro".
Satsuki returns home to find Mei sleeping in the real parts of the woods, and Mei finds that Totoro is gone. And unlike most kids movies where the family doesn't believe the younger sibling and thinks she was dreaming, they actually believe her and tell her that she met a spirit of the forest and says she can see the spirit whenever the spirit feels it wants to.
The story continues with adventures involving a local neighborhood boy who has a crush on Satsuki, a sad moment with the mother having to stay in the hospital for a little longer, and a scene where Totoro shows up next to the two girls waiting for their father to come home, while standing in the rain.
"My Neighbor Totoro" is so charming and innocent, that's it's impossible not to love. You instantly fall in the love with the characters, and you can sympathize the siblings' behavior with each other if you have a younger or older brother. The animation and imagination are purely great. Miyazaki is one of the most influential animated directors outside of America and everyone should see all of them. I know I will!
"My Neighbor Totoro" is a wonderful and remarkable family film.
A beautiful masterpiece that explores the world of two young girls. There names are Satsuka and Mae, they have just moved to the country side with their dad while their mom, who is ill is in the hospital. Underneath the stress and playfulness of these two girls lies a world all their own. it just happens to be inhabited by totoro's and cat buses.
"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.
“A four-year-old child could understand this report….Run out and find me a four-year-old child. I can't make head or tail out of it.”
- 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.
~ STORY ~
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.
STORY: My Neighbor Totoro is simple and whimsical. Although the story is a children's fable, the heart of the tale can draw out the child in everyone. The movie begins in a period of transition for a family, and the movie concludes alongside the end of the transition. The finished product is like a meaningful photograph. The events occurring in the story or picture are not life changing. It's the memory and feeling you take away that holds the worth of the story in Totoro. However, the story is not ground-breaking or awe-inspiring. But the it is delightful and unforgettable.
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.
Sigh...How should I describe my most cherished and precious childhood memory of my whole life so that I wouldn't understate it at all?!?!
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!
Tonari no Totoro, So many words I could use to describe just how wonderful this movie actually is. It's starts off slow, but after a while you start understanding the characters they're mind set and their relationships with each other and how they are a family. It's a beautiful transition, to not knowing these characters as in they're complete strangers and goes in to making you feel like your part of they're family.
The art style for being a older movie was comfortable it looked nice. it felt like you were watching a nice old movie from childhood with wacky creatures and curiosity at it's peak.
is at a point in which I would call perfect because every moment in the movie either it be a fast pace run scene or a calm relax scene has its own little melody that just makes the movie even more interesting.
Characters overall are generic-ley awesome in the best way possible, compared to your average classics. Being the traditional wacky family that fit in with each other like puzzle pieces.
Enjoyment overall is a 10/10, the movie was so enticing that it had me wondering why it ended so fast and why they're couldn't be more, I wanted to explore more with the characters and get to know the family more. To be able to understand the things in that world more, like no other.
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.
Hayao Miyazaki has implemented himself as one of the most well known individuals in the medium of anime. This is due to his numerous animated works that he creates with the brilliantly creative staff at studio ghibli. What makes their films so appealing us their ability to appeal to both adults and children alike. My Neighbor Totoro definitely does not dissapoint when compared to other anime films in existence.
Tonari no Totoro, also known more commonly as My Neighbor Totoro is a simple story about a family moving into the country side and meeting several spirits of the forest. One of these spirits
is known as Totoro and he lives in a tree near their house. The story sounds simple but the execution makes it so special.
As I just mentioned the story is very simple but this fact does not detract the film's quality at all. The film oozes with creativity wherever they can cram it. I love the design of the spirits and the creative premise in particular. The story has a sense of whimsical charm that children and the little kids in all of us can surely appreciate.
The setting isn't all that unique but is utilized well. The theme of different spirits being present works with the setting. This would not have worked if the story had taken place in say New York City. The rural setting also gives off a good and peaceful atmosphere throughout the entire film.
The movie's conclusion was very satisfying and there was some great resolution present. The film did not seem very long or short winded as the running time runs just outside of the average movie running time at 1 hour and 26 minutes. The comedy was also well done and there was some quality and realistic drama present. So overall the narrative of this movie is amazingly executed.
The characters were also quite solid in this film. The characters were all very likable and were put in believe able situations. Characterization and development were present and we did get to know the characters. The characters also captured child like whimsy and fun while also maintains realistic family dynamics.
Totoro is an absolute beast, he was very sweet and funny despite his scary aesthetic appearance. He can be described as a gentle giant. The adults in this story were good too, the mother who was in the hospital still had a good attitude about it. The father had a very fun and believeable relationship with his daughters. And granny provided wisdom when the time was needed. And do I even have to say anything about the cat bus? The characters were overall a massive hit.
The only real problem I had with this film were some of the presentation. The animation in this film was good but not great. I really liked the use of color and the fluidity of the animation. However some of the animation was reused and the animation had aspects that didn't age a whole lot well and just looked awkward at some points in the film.
The soundtrack here was very good and went along with the film's atmosphere very well. The English dub was also pretty well executed with some annoying voices peppered throughout the film at different points. I would like to see the sub version because the father's voice actor is the same as someone who worked on the mother series of video games.
So overall My Neighbor Totoro was a great experience. It succeeded with quality characters and a fun story. There weren't too many significant flaws and it is another great film from Stidio Ghibli. This movie succeeded in making me feel like a little kid which is a very rare occurrence indeed.
If you're one of those people who still don't know what that thing featured on the Studio Ghibli company logo is, then the chances are, you haven't seen "My Neighbour Totoro" (for a while I thought it was meant to be a rather odd looking donkey myself). Well then, you've been missing out!
"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.
It would seem easy for the newcomer to dismiss Totoro, or any Ghibli film for that matter, as a saccharine film with its head stuck in naivety. I mean, just look at those title sequences! Both the opening and ending ones! The deceivingly playful music would probably lead the inexperienced viewer away from what sensible wisdom this film provides for the young and old. They're not called family films for no reason.
For example, at the beginning of this film, Satsuki notices a cyclist in uniform and is relieved that he's not a police officer. Naturally, my first thought jumps to, "Is this family in trouble?
Perhaps running away from the law?" Of course, I soon remember the simple notion that kids merely find officers to be intimidating on some level, proving my long-departure from a child-like perception. Later on, Satsuki and her (very) little sister, Mei, are playing around a rotting pillar beneath a porch, and I found that act dangerous. The two kids have no such reservations and continue to fool around as they place. So yes, the observation of children can bring you interesting perceptions that you might not know.
And it helps that Miyazaki has a great reputation for depicting realistic people. Many years later in life, there will be an infamous misquote about how Miyazaki claimed that "anime is a mistake". What he actually said was that a lot of anime artists these days have ceased to observe people in real life as they depict these characters, that the anime industry now belongs to the otaku (literally meaning "shut-in", the kind Americans stereotype as living in their mother's basement). While I don't agree with the statement in its entirety (any generalization is bad, and this is no exception), there are few people more qualified to make such a statement than Miyazaki himself.
The truly impressive feat is to not just depict children realistically, but realistic and interesting. Children in movies are usually noisy, obnoxious, and attention-deficit. It's easy to depict children as such because most children act like that in real life. But it takes a certain kind of skill to strike a fine balance between realistic and compelling. How do you engage the audience with real children?
Mei is adorable enough little kid that I could just eat her up by the end of the movie. At one point, I was a bit worried she might turn into a Mary-Sue. I mean, she's pretty hardy for what seems like a 5 year old. I know kids older than that who would cry after smacking their face onto a bush. She's also curious, jolly, and active in a playful, unobnoxious way. When she meets Totoro later, she isn't afraid, even when it seems like she is going to be swallowed into the 'jaws of death', but instead strokes the giant creature gently and with compassion. She's pretty much the ideal child every loving parent would want. But it's revealed in the later half of the movie that she keeps herself from crying to act like a "good girl", a habit many kids tend to pick up (I obviously didn't). Also, she throws a tantrum when she receives news from a telegram that their ailing mother would not be discharged from the hospital for the week. All of these further evidenced her innocent altruism for others, but it does show her more human and vulnerable side. It is in these kind of moments that I sometimes can't help give into my more cynical observations about how these 'kind-hearted' kids appear too often in cartoons for my taste. There's a struggle watching these family films where I have to remind myself not to be judgmental, and Miyazaki does make it easier by making both girls such likable characters. In fact, the film spends a large amount of time keeping me watching by merely establishing and developing the two girls without rushing to the main plot or its eponymous character, a bold trait compared to your modern Hollywood filmmaking.
There are two persistent themes that one might observe throughout Miyazaki movies. The first is that children are precocious, and their innocence would allow them to get in touch with the supernatural much easier than adults. The children's father, Tatsuo, in particular, is unable to see Totoro and the enormous tree that magically sprout overnight, leading me to almost believe the more commonsensical notion that the children are merely seeing delusions or perhaps trapped in a dreamscape. While guileless children connecting with Mother Earth via their shining innocence isn't exclusive to Miyazaki films, the theme that truly sets them apart is the relationship of man and nature (particularly the acts of deforestation), a theme that might put off some of the more superficial audiences like myself, especially when it becomes heavy-handed and preachy in its symbolism (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away). In Totoro, however, this doesn't become a distraction like in other Miyazaki films, and is merely a gentle backdrop serving to enhance the overall beauty of the movie.
While such themes can easily succumb to darker subjects such as man's greed for self-gain, or the adults' dismissal of 'childish' ideas they've long outgrown, Miyazaki takes a particularly innocent approach to Totoro that permeates in its adult characters too. The father is practical but understanding and patient, and the mother is of course soft-spoken and indulges in the children's fantasies like she is one of them. As opposed to a film like The Orphanage, you could hardly see the realism in these adults at all. I should commend Miyazaki's effort in consistently looking towards the benign and innocuous, but this is one idealism that I feel I must call out on. Aside from having two unsatisfied parents myself who wished I had been born a subservient girl, I've seen all too often parents punishing their children in public that I just find something off-putting to such '50s idealism in the modern world. I could understand why the father allows his daughter to run free in the backyard without supervision - a habit borne from the Japanese culture of confidence in security, I'm afraid - but the lenient parent is a banal mundanity in many children's movies that shouldn't really be highlighted as often as this film does unless it serves a more meaningful purpose, like showing how parents everywhere should love their children.
Or perhaps I'm simply reading too much into these two amused parents who are hollow in personality specifically because they are us, the grown-ups, looking into their envy eyes at the seemingly daydreaming children, reminiscing our carefree days of frolic.
There's an adult fear in the movie that I should point out, a fear that's named such because only adults would understand the fear of it. When Mei goes missing in the film, the big sister, while scrambling across the countryside searching for her, crosses a bridge. My first thought was exactly the ominous notion of a drowning kid. The interesting thing is that there are quite a few moments in the film that would lead an adult astray. Aside from the examples I had described at the beginning, there's also a scene where Mei and Satsuki are waiting for her father to get home on a bus - in a lonely bus stop at night. It's pouring heavily, and the mood in the scene seems rather grim. Naturally, I thought that the dad was going to be in some kind of accident. Then of course, there's a later scene where a shoe is found in a lake, the same lake Satsuki crossed a bridge from earlier. The shoe hints at my worst fear, but of course again, the film mocks my cynicism and reveals that it's not Mei's shoe to begin with. Amusing.
It's such clever writing that I'm sure an adult would find plenty to love about the film; stuff that would bring you bittersweet memories, and stuff that would grant you desires for rearing a child.
One last thing: it is very difficult to animate fur, so such intricate details in the depiction of fur is to be praised. Totoro is fluffy and cuddly enough in this picture that would make you go out and purchase its famous plush toy.