By Leroy Douresseaux
May 21, 2013 - 10:27
|My Neighbor Totoro Blu-ray DVD combo pack cover art - from Walt Disney Home Entertainment|
Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents My Neighbor Totoro, a Studio Ghibli film about the magic of friendship and sisterhood from Academy Award®-winning director Hayao Miyazaki (“Best Animated Feature,” 2002, Spirited Away). Audiences can celebrate the 25th anniversary of My Neighbor Totoro – available for the first time on Disney Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray gives the film a new HD digital transfer and perfect picture and sound. The perfect picture captures My Neighbor Totoro’s rich color palette and the film’s effervescent special effects. That perfect sound means that Totoro’s roar really… well, roars, and you can even hear the gentle “thunk” of an ear of corn hitting a windowsill.
My Neighbor Totoro follows the adventures of two sisters, as they discover a new neighbor. This mysterious forest spirit, which can only be seen by the eyes of a child, is “Totoro.” He introduces them to his extraordinary friends and takes the girls on journey of a lifetime. The film features the voice talents of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters, Dakota and Elle Fanning.
My Neighbor Totoro opens in Japan, 1958. Professor Tatsuo Kusakabe (Tim Daly) and his daughters, the elder Satsuki (Dakota Fanning) and four-year-old Mei (Elle Fanning), move into an old house in Matsugo. There, Kusakabe will be closer to his wife and his daughters’ mother, Yasuko (Lea Salonga), who is recovering from a long-term illness.
Not long after moving into their new home, the girls soon encounter small, dark, dust-like spirits called soot gremlins (or soot sprites), moving from light to dark places in the house. That’s just the sisters’ first encounter with the fantastic. One day, Mei spies a small magical creature and follows it to a large camphor tree near the old house, where she enters a world of magic and adventure. That leads to both Satsuki and Mei discovering a wondrous creature they call “Totoro” (Frank Welker).
As with other Miyazaki films, My Neighbor Totoro looks like it was lovingly crafted by the hands of human artists and animators. They drew and painted until they created a beautiful animated film that really has the illusion of life. Like many films from Studio Ghibli, My Neighbor Totoro loves people and nature equally. Thus, the film is about the Kusakabe sisters exploring nature and the magic found within it, rather than being about a conflict with nature and the girls being threatened by the magic they find there.
The Matsuga countryside, as depicted by this film’s artists, is a pastoral ideal, with verdant forests and fields. There is so much fertility and the water is so crystal clear and cool-seeming that you might believe that magic could not help but exist here. In fact, a sense of wonder about nature and their resourceful imaginations are what help the Kusakabe girls discover magic in a strong breeze or in the music they hear at night.
My Neighbor Totoro is blessed with a few truly great characters. Satsuki and Mei are remarkably convincing as little girls. It is said that there is magic in a child’s laughter and heartbreak in a child’s cries. Dakota Fanning as Satsuki and her sister, Elle Fanning, as Mei personify that by giving life-like performances. I believed in the Kusakabe girls because everything about them – their actions, conversations, desires, etc. – ring with authenticity – thanks to the Fanning sisters.
Of course, the film’s signature character is Totoro, one of the finest characters ever to appear in an animated film. He is a force of nature, doing more by communicating through growls, roars, and facial expressions than many actors do even with dialogue composed by the best writers. He’s pure enchantment; you can’t take your eyes off Totoro. Then, there is Catbus – that crazy mind-bending Catbus.
I have previously seen four films by Hayao Miyazaki, including the superb Spirited Away. I think My Neighbor Totoro is the one that has wowed me the most… so far.
Original Japanese Storyboards
Behind the Studio
• Creating “My Neighbor Totoro”
• Creating the Characters
• The Totoro Experience
• Producer’s Perspective: Creating Ghibli
• The Locations of Totoro
• Scoring Miyazaki
Original Japanese Trailer
Behind the Microphone
Blu-ray/DVD Product Details:
Suggest retail price: $39.99
Format: Animated, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Unknown), Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Subtitles: English, French
Dubbed: French, Japanese
Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment Presents A Studio Ghibli Film
DVD Release Date: May 21, 2013
Run Time: 88 minutes
Rating: 10 /10