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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, more...
Director: Hayao Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Anime, Foreign, Kids, Anime Feature Films, Animation, Cel, Studios, Ghibli
Running Time: 87 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

This title is currently out of print.

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 Reviews

pan and scan by KathyBruce January 12, 2005 - 12:31 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
I also love this movie and hate the packaging. Let me briefly add that not only is the movie dub only, but it is also pan and scan rather than widescreen, so you see a sadly chopped version of miyazaki's beautiful vision.

A kid's film?! No way! It's for EVERYONE! by JTurner1 April 17, 2004 - 9:44 AM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Even the cuddliest of animal characters in most animated films do not often get any cuter than they do in Hayao Miyazaki's fourth film, My Neighbor Totoro. To quickly describe this movie, it is totally AWWWWWWWWWWWW-SOME.

Enthusiastically dubbed into English by Streamline Pictures' Carl Macek (a company who often gets a bad rap on their dubs for Japanese films), this film is based on an original story conceived by Miyazaki himself. It's about two young girls -- bossy, yet confident and sympathetic Satsuki and her younger, mischievous sister Mei -- moving with their somewhat scatterbrained but loving father to a new home in the Japanese countryside. But the place isn't just deserted; wonders galore lie within their household. Tiny, fuzzy black balls of soot (appropriately called Soot Sprites) scatter every nook and cranny of the walls, scared away only by the power of laughter. A tall, luscious camphor tree towers above the other trees in the back yard. And, lastly, the Totoros themselves, absolutely adorable little creatures who look like a cross between a raccoon, rabbit, owl, and guinea pig (a personal bias here, since I owned such a pet who reminds me so much of the Totoros here), live in this very forest, carrying acorns, making huge trees grow at night, and playing ocarinas on the branches of the trees. There is even one really BIG Totoro who sleeps under the tree, who is SOOOO cute, gentle, and soft that you'll swear that he's the equivalent of your pet. (My guinea pig was every bit as sweet as Totoro is; sadly, he died this past year. *sniff!*) Of course, he doesn't just allow Mei to snuggle on his chest. He lets out loud, powerful roars, shake the ground by jumping with full force, grins as wide as a Cheshire cat (but more with warmth and generosity), helps children when they're in trouble, and gives acorns wrapped in bamboo leaves in return for gifts.

The story isn't all hearts and flowers, however. The children have moved primarily to be closer to Shichi Kokuyama Hospital, where their mother resides (a similar thing happened to Miyazaki's mother in real-life). Toward the end of the movie, the girls receive a distressing telegram that their mother could potentially die. Both Satsuki and Mei are extremely traumatized by this as any real child would be if such a situation occurred in their lifetime. What follows is a tearjerking sequence that builds to a truly happy ending which should touch your heart as much as it did mine. This mixture of real-life situations, emotions, and magical discoveries found in your nearest back yard make My Neighbor Totoro feel authentic (even with its fantasy elements). One cannot help but find this quality in any of Miyazaki's films, this one included.

My Neighbor Totoro was not a box office success in either Japan or America, but the film has won over millions of children around the world as well as animation buffs for its gorgeous animation style; the backgrounds are lavishly detailed and imagination is galore in much of the sequences. (It was Kiki's Delivery Service that would catapult Miyazaki's animation company, Studio Ghibli, into box office success status.)

Disney has acquired the global distribution rights for all of Miyazaki's movies, but those for My Neighbor Totoro belong (currently) to Fox Video, which have recently expired. Disney’s new release (due August 31) is guaranteed to be leaps and bounds ahead of the FOX version; if you already own the video, then the current DVD release isn't anything to get excited about. It is only pan-and-scan and lacking with extras (Hello! This is the kind of movie that deserves an even better treatment!) and the Japanese language track is NOT on the DVD. Boo! I can imagine a lot of sub-purists passing this one up, which is a shame, because My Neighbor Totoro is considered a masterpiece with many Anime buffs. (Incidentally, I do not own the DVD; only the video.)

Even with this release's shortcomings, the dubbing is well done, and the overall film still comes across as a highly recommended title to watch. Don't think for a moment that My Neighbor Totoro is solely for children. With a little bit of luck, grown-ups (and those who consider themselves TOO old to be a child anymore) will enjoy it, too.

Supplement to excellent reviews by larbeck and hneline1 by hamano September 3, 2003 - 7:03 AM PDT
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Disney has postponed doing their own (or Pixar's) new version of a Totoro dub, and a Disney DVD release of the film is uncertain. Under the relationship between Ghibli and Disney, Buena Vista Japan has released a DVD of Totoro in Japan, but they licensed the Fox Family/Troma Dub audio and Subtitles for their version. So fans in Japan who opt for the dub audio see the same thing that renters from GreenCine experience.

Troma and Buena Vista Japan compounded things by using the Dub script for the subtitles, instead of providing a more literal translation of the Japanese script, which is what most anime fans prefer. If you watch the Japanese release of Totoro in Japanese with English subtitles, there are scenes with no dialogue that are subtitled with the words from extra English dialogue added by Troma to cover moments of "awkward silence"...

If you're the type that prefers anime in Japanese with subtitles, you're kinda stuck as far as Totoro goes. Even if you're such a rabid fan that you buy a Region 2 capable player to watch the Japanese DVD, you'll just end up reading the flawed English Dub script! Might as well watch the version from GreenCine! The only way to get around this problem is to either learn Japanese or find a fansub that was done by a very conscientious anime fan.


Originally, there was just 1 girl who meets Totoro. If you look at the soundtrack album cover, there she is, standing at the bus stop next to Totoro in the rain, a curious amalgam of the sisters. When the decision was made to split her, the sisters were named Satsuki (Fifth Month) and Mei (May)!

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