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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly, more...
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Disney
Genre: Anime, Foreign, Kids, Anime Feature Films, Animation, Cel, Studios, Ghibli

This superbly animated children's tale is directed by Hayao Miyazaki, one of Japan's most beloved animators. The story follows Satsuke and Mai, two young girls who find their new country home is in a mystical forest inhabited by a menagerie of mystical creatures called Totoros. They befriend O Totoro, the biggest and eldest Totoro, who is also the king of the forest. As their girls' mother lies sick in the hospital, O Totoro brings the sisters on a magical adventure but also helps them to understand the realities of life. Like most films released by Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, this family-oriented feature has a powerful ecological theme. ~ Jonathan E. Laxamana, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
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8.67 (181 votes)
My Neighbor Totoro (Bonus Disc) (1988)
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7.56 (32 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Classic Miyazaki by CWellman June 14, 2008 - 11:37 AM PDT
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Anyone who has ever lived close to nature will understand what this movie is about. You do have to watch it in the original Japanese language with subtitles to keep the spirit of the movie intact.

My granddaughters were disappointed by lcassady2 July 5, 2006 - 9:51 PM PDT
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful
My granddaughters, now age 6 and 10, have been raised on Miyazaki films, and have a special place in their heart for Totoro. They were the first to tell me that the film had been released with new words that were really "corny," "goofy," and "dum" (Disney-style). They were very upset and wanted to make sure we could find the original movie with the original soundtrack. I am very sad that Miyazaki, one of the great storytellers of our time, made this deal with Disney, but happy that my grandkids saw his unadulterated work.

Wonderous enough to peel the eyes of even a jaded adult by Lastcrackerjack April 5, 2006 - 7:37 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Sisters Satsuki and Mei Kusakabe (who seem 11 and 4 respectively) move to a new home in the countryside with their father. Their mother is interned in a nearby hospital for a non-descript illness.

Exploring the yard, Mei encounters a forest spirit, a sort of oversized rabbit that shuffles around on two legs and appears and disappears at will. Children appear to have an easier time seeing them. Mei follows the spirit through the brush and into a Camphor Laurel tree, where she encounters a giant forest spirit. She names the benevolent spirit Totoro.

Miyazaki's forest spirits are not malovent, but live peacefully with those who respect nature. Totoro appears to Satsuki in a beautiful scene in which the girls wait for their father at a rain drenched bus stop near the woods. An oceanography professor, the Father humors the girls about the forest sprits, but doesn't deny they exist. Trying to cope with the absence of their mother and the possibility that she might never return, Satsuki and Mei get some magical help from the spirits.

If all of this sounds slightly corny or New Age, five minutes of this movie instilled more childlike fascination in me than three hours of "King Kong" or any recent Hollywood film I can remember.

Walt Disney Studios, which distributes Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films in the west, dubbed this 1988 film in 2005 with an English language track featuring Dakota Fanning as Satsuki, Fanning's 7-year-old sister Ellie as Mei and Tim Daly of "Wings" as the Father.

Unlike most Disney films, which feature talking and singing animals and are aimed at very young ankle biters, Miyazaki's beautifully animated, creatively inspired films tend to follow the personal growth of a young girl. The fantastic creatures rarely offer up dialogue and there are no musical bits. There are rarely heroes and villains but instead, morally complex characters.

"Tonari no Totoro" features enough wonder to peel the eyes of any jaded adult. When the girls move into their new home, they discover it is inhabited by "soot sprites", clusters of black dust with eyes that can be seen for a moment when a room goes from dark to light. The Father tells them to laugh if they get afraid and the soot sprites will move out. I like the way the dad does not endorse the supernatural per se, but doesn't ignore the possibility that there is more than meets the eye to the world.

Miyazaki's films are abound with respect for the unseen. Spirits surround the most trivial rituals of everyday life. When the girls run home from school in a rainstorm, they seek shelter under a small wooden shrine by the road and thank the dearly departed for letting them share his roof. I can't imagine an American kid saying something that corny, but life is mysterious and full of wonder in a Miyazaki picture, and he makes you believe in it too

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