Monday, January 5, 2009

Review | Movie | My Neighbor Totoro

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO : 10-year-old Satsuki and 4-year-old Mei move into a new house with their father to be closer to their sick mother being treated in a
nearby hospital. There's plenty of room at their new house to explore in the
woods, and when Mei's exploring sends her tumbling into the home of a large tree
spirit called Totoro, Satsuki and Mei immediately befriend the large rabbit-like

Miyazaki's at it again with this children's masterpiece that has been properly recognized with several awards. This film is quite well known, depending on how deeply the person you ask is in the anime loop. I've met some, however, that didn't watch anime at all that loved My Neighbor Totoro, one not even being a fan of animation at all and still calling it "one of the greatest movies of all time." After pausing to enjoy this short but engaging film, I can't argue with that.

If you stop by the movie store to pick up the English dub, keep your ears open for the voices of the Fanning sisters Dakota and Elle, dubbing for Satsuki and Mei. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as well for cameo appearances by the soot gremlins we've come to love from the nationally acclaimed Miyazaki hit Spirited Away; though they're not a labor force this time, there's as much curiosity from this film's characters as there was in Spirited Away. No one can seem to take their eyes off the big flying balls of soot for some strange reason!

Soon afterwards, while Satsuki's at school, Mei begins to wander her new backyard following a trail of dropped acorns. Finally, once it's become clear who - or what - had been dropping the acorns, Mei finds herself underneath the trunk of a tree, napping on the stomach of a colossal rabbit-like tree spirit. The sleepy, large-mouthed rabbit, after being mistaken by Mei for a giant soot gremlin, roars his name to the girl, and the adventure begins.

Does the image of Totoro seem nostalgic? If you've seen any other Miyazaki creations, you may remember Studio Ghibli's brief credit at the beginning of the film, which sports the outline of a large Totoro accompanied by the Studio Ghibli logo. If you ever wondered what that strange bunny was, you'll at last get to see him in action in this classic 1988 anime that kids will love.

No questionable material is found in this movie, so I encourage everyone to take 70 minutes to sit down and enjoy the charming tale of the tree spirits that befriend two small girls. In almost all of Miyazaki's films, nature and its relations play a major part, such as the war over the protection of a large forest in Princess Mononoke, and the haunting consequences of man destroying the planet in the futuristic story of Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind.

If you enjoyed the similar tale of Pom Poko, another Studio Ghibli creation, you won't want to miss this fantastic movie.

Overall Rating:
/ 5

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