My Neighbor Totoro
Dr. Kusakabe and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, move out to a new house in the countryside. Moving into the large house is an adventure and a thrill for the young duo, who are still innocent and unjaded enough to still notice sprites and fairies living inside the woodwork and the nearby forest.
Soon, things settle into a routine for the family. Daddy studies and teaches at the nearby university, Satsuki goes to school, and Mei begins to play in the vast and gorgeous forest right outside their screen door. The family also periodically goes to the hospital to visit Mom, who has an unnamed disease that keeps her there until she can get better enough to go home.
Mei eventually meets the Totoro, a strange and friendly race of creatures who look like a cross between an owl and a rabbit. Totoros come in all sorts of sizes, the most remarkable being the ten-foot tall one that seems to embody the spirit of the forest. Soon, Satsuki meets the Totoro, too, and a truly magical experience begins!
Again, My Neighbor Totoro is another Miyazaki classic that any anime fan worth his or her salt will see or at least plan to see in the near future.
I almost didn't include a story synopsis in this review, because the overall plot, while well-conceived and coherent, is almost incidental to the overall anime experience. The main point of the anime seems to be simply to absorb and revel in the magical and wondrous setting Miyazaki painted in My Neighbor Totoro. And magic and wonder there is, in spades.
The art and animation are wonderful, in typical Miyazaki detail and execution. The colors are bright and crisp, and the whole thing just exudes this intangible quality that makes you long for the days of yore, when playing outside and simply exploring the backyard was an adventure in and of itself. There is some absolutely gorgeous scenery to be found in this thing. Even everyday objects adopt a fairy-tale quality to them when rendered in this film. Nothing is over-cute, though, and even the most jaded will appreciate the truly bizarre and wonderful ideas Miyazaki presents as the film unfolds.
The soundtrack is probably one of the best I've ever heard: unique, eccentric, and friendly all at the same time. The magic of each scene is enhanced even more by the tracks that accompany them, making even going to school seem like a scene from a Mother Goose rhyme. The characters are all wonderfully rendered, fully likeable and fully believable at the same time with their strengths and flaws. The dubbing job was probably the best I have ever heard, and it took me only five minutes for me to forget that this movie was originally done in Japanese. Hopefully, the Disney renditions of Miyazaki's titles will all be done this well.
Basically, if you're in the mood to see something that will make you feel good all over, get this one for sure. I sat with a goofy grin on my face the whole time this thing was on, and the grin didn't go away for even hours after the flick was over. Miyazaki does it again, and My Neighbor Totoro is a winner.
Recommended Audience: Little kids might find Totoro to be a bit frightening, but only at first. There's a family bath scene that's not even really worth mentioning. Everybody can see this one, no problem. A G-rated anime, woohoo!
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
My Neighbor Totoro © 1988 Nibariki / Tokuma Shoten
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