Movies / Animé and Toons

My Neighbor Totoro

By Hervé St-Louis
April 7, 2010 - 08:20

Satsuki and her little sister Mei move to the countryside with their father while their mother is in the hospital. The home they move in is haunted according to next door boy Kanta. The boy refuses to speak to the girls because of that. As Satsuki goes to school, her younger sister is left alone in the yard one day and discovers the magical creatures that live next to her. She names the biggest one Totoro.

This story is simple and innocent. It’s amazing how Miyazaki can create new archetypes and legends so easily. A story like My Neighbor Totoro could become a new Cinderella or Pinocchio given the right circumstances. Everything in this film is iconic, including the shot of the girls waiting for the bus under the rain next to Totoro. He looks so innocent and aloof that there’s no way he could harm anyone. I like the slow introduction of the character and his fellow totoros in the story. Nothing was pushed on the viewer. The fantastic elements of the stories are slowly weaved with the realistic story of the two girls moving to the countryside. It seems in this story that every adult, like the girls’ father and Kanta’s grandma are accomplices. I was shocked at the ending. I just didn’t expect the movie to end this way. I expected more so I felt a bit put off. As with many Miyazaki films, it’s not the ending that counts but the trek. It’s not an easy lesson to learn however. I would say the conflict near the end of the movie was inserted there to force some kind of resolution where there was none needed.

As for the animation, I like the Cheshire bus cat and the facial exaggerations in the characters’ faces. This DVD contains truckload of extras compared to other Disney Miyazaki releases. There is a lengthy documentary on the gardens and world that inspired Totoro. It’s all in the behind the scene section on the second disc. One thing I would have like to see in the extras is a way to play all of them nonsestop instead of always having to load back the next feature.

Rating: 9.5 /10

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Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25

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