My Neighbor Totoro, or となりのトトロ, Tonari no Totoro, is the heartwarming story of two sisters, a new home, and a forest spirit.
follows the story of two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, and their father, a professor, as they move to a new town to be closer to their mother, who is currently ill in the hospital. The move takes them to a rural home, brimming with mystical and whimsical energy and featuring a particularly majestic tree. In addition to discovering fuzzy little soot sprites, on Satsuki’s first day at school, Mei finds a small acorn-hoarding creature under the house and decides to follow it into the forest, leading her and her sister into a world of charming imagination.
The film is unusual; it stands as one of the only Miyazaki films without war or major conflict. Instead, moving away from darker and larger stories, Miyazaki expands a small, everyday kind of story about a family working to make it through a mother’s illness. Even then, the protagonists’ goals stay simple: the sisters just want their mother home for a weekend. The simplicity and reality of such a story stand as testament to Miyazaki’s storytelling mastery; his ability to portray such a personal story only proves that, while explosive battles and country-altering wars can provide important stories, a situation seemingly so small gives a story that is equally important. The audience here finds a film of deeper personal emotions of the less public conflicts in life.
had two dubs, one from Streamline in 1993 and one from Disney in 2005 (which was released to TV and DVD in 2006). Miyazaki had a firm hand with Totoro’s dubs, insisting no scenes were edited out, all names remained the same (though Catbus was an exception), the translation be as close to the original Japanese as possible, and nothing of the world was changed to be more agreeable or understandable for the English audience; most specifically, the origin of the name “Totoro” must be explained exactly the same.
Totoro is a forest spirit, also referred to as a troll. As “king of the forest,” he lives in the largest majestic tree, likes naps, travels by spinning top on the wind or via Catbus, and is especially grateful when Satsuki lends him an umbrella for the rain. His design is both adorable and powerful, similar to a large squirrel with a lion’s roar, with such a furry design that the entire audience envied Mei’s nap on his belly. He became an icon for Studio Ghibli, and the film became the most well-known of the studio’s films.
With the film’s growing popularity, it also stands as one of the only Studio Ghibli films to receive a sequel in 2003.
, or めいとこねこバス Mei to Konekobasu, is a thirteen-minute sequel featuring the offspring of the Catbus and a few other feline vehicles. The short sequel, which featured voice work by Hayao Miyazaki himself as Totoro and Granny Cat, the short film is regularly shown at the Ghibli Museum but has yet to be released on home video.
was briefly shown in the US in 2006 to coincide with the release of
Following the Disney release, starring such voices as the Fanning sisters, Pat Carroll, and Lea Salonga, the film found acclaim from critics and international audiences alike, something the Streamline dub didn’t quite achieve. Roger Ebert, noting Miyazaki’s departure from darker themes, wrote, “
is based on experience, situation and exploration—not on conflict and threat.” The result was a truly family-friendly film, tame and pleasant, and a welcoming gateway to the many worlds of Studio Ghibli.
I’ve seen the Disney dub version where the two sisters are voiced by Dakota and Elle Fanning. Totoro has a rare combination of stunning animation, quirky fun and deeply felt splendor!
Now for eveyrone to start talking about how much they hate this awful movie. *sarcasm* 🙂
Absolutely with you. Though I might go up to 4.5.
Thanks and Totoro can’t be that awful. I wasn’t expecting better anyway. But it’s still likable enough.
Again, I was being sarcastic in saying it’s awful. Totoro’s great.
You couldn’t fool me that easily. To be fair, I’m not a big Studio Ghlibli fan but I’ve seen some of their movies. I’ve also seen Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away and Secret World of Arriety.
I adore Totoro, it is one of my favorite Ghibli films, and one of my favorite animated films of all time. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched this film, just to console my spirit in times of great turbulence. It is a film that is not aimed towards everyone, but carries with it such character and purpose, for those who are drawn to it will find a wealth of content. It always makes me relive those moments of prolonged childhood innocence, that once allowed us all to walk into unfamiliar places looking only for adventure, and magic. If you have yet to see this film give it a try, it is remarkable.
I love Totoro. I kind of think of it as Japan’s answer to Winnie the Pooh
I really like Totorro!! I knew I was going to like it just by the opening intro!! Also freaking adore the Totorro song and always seem to think of it when I see something cute lol!
One of the cutest movies I’ve ever seen ^.^ (and perfect to watch during a lazy summer day 😀 )
So well put Haley. Would love to watch this during summer with an ‘Otter Pop’ in my hand.
I love so many scenes, like when they wait at the bus stop in the rain, it’s so funny and iconic, and everything with the cat bus is awesome too, but I sort of dislike the bigger storyline. I think it’s a pretty cheap trick to make us think that the little sister drowns and that the mom dies only to finish it off by revealing it was all fake false alarms.
I have a problem with any person who has a problem with this movie.
Can we all just take a moment and think how this movie gave us one of the best dad’s depicted on the big screen?
It has the economic and simplicity sophistication of Dumbo and the Iron Giant.
And It perfectly embodies the thoguhts and perspectives of a child. I can’t think of another movie that does it in quite the same way
Somehow, the world in which the film takes place strikes me as a spiritual amalgam of Sesame Street and the Hundred Acre Wood, a place where everyone’s neighbors look out for each other, and one is always close to nature.
There is a very dark inspiration to this exquisite film: the “Sayama Incident” of 1963 when a young girl was kidnapped for ransom, and killed. He older sister seemed to be traumatised – she found the body – and when asked what she saw, she said “I met a large Tanuki” (looks like a raccoon) and “I saw a cat monster”. This was Sayama in the Saitama Prefecture in Japan. In the film, on the box in Japanese behind the box of crockery is written “Sayama Tea”. The murder happened in May. The youngest child in the movie is called Mei. The oldest sister is called Satsuki, which is another way of saying “the month of May”. The cat bus has as destination in Japanese, Grave Road.
” The audience here finds a film of deeper personal emotions of the less public conflicts in life. ” That was so well put 🙂 What a great review!
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