Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Neighbor Totoro Anime Movie Review

My Neighbor Totoro
Tonari no Totoro
Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Disney)
Movie - 88 mins. - 2 discs
$39.99 (2013) Blu-Ray/DVD
$29.99 (2010)
$29.99 (2004)
$9.98 (2002)
ISBN 786936791716
English/Japanese Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Hayao Miyazaki
Studio - Studio Ghibli

Synopsis: Satsuki and Mei move with their father, a university professor, into an old house in the country to be closer to their mother who is in the hospital.  The sisters (ages ten and four) explore their new home and discover all sorts of interesting phenomena.  Upon their arrival and first inspection they disturb the 'soot sprites' living in the empty house.  Their father knows the only way to keep away house spirits is to laugh very loudly - and that's just what they do!
Mei spies this little guy while she's playing. Hey, where's he going?
After several weeks the girls adjust to their new home and enjoy exploring the surrounding woods together.  One day Mei happens upon a pint-sized magical creature and follows it to a huge ancient tree.  She falls into the tree and right on top of a massive, sleeping Totoro!  Mei is fascinated by the huge furry creature and Totoro is indifferent to the tiny creature sitting on him.  They both take a nap.
Mei drops in on Totoro while he's taking a nap
Later Satsuki and Mei encounter Totoro while waiting at the bus stop in a heavily wooded lane.  He gives them a bundle of magic seeds before boarding a Catbus.  The girls enjoy several more encounters with the 'King of the Forest'.
Satsuki offers Totoro her extra umbrella
Pros: Hand-rendered animation, simple and believable human characters, unmistakable sense of wonder/delight at the benign supernatural, the two little girls are adorable and well-portrayed, widespread international appeal, Totoro is great/hilarious (so is the theme song), it has a catbus!
Satsuki gets Totoro's help when Mei goes missing.  He calls the Catbus!
Cons: Slow-paced, Disney English dub is different than original (long out-of-print) Fox/Streamline English dub (those familiar with previous dub may be disappointed by new dub), instance where one of the girls gets lost could be tough for some young viewers (my young viewers didn't have a problem)
The magic seeds grow with a little help from Totoro!

Mike Tells It Straight: This movie is one of my all-time favorites and has such universal appeal that anyone will enjoy it.  It put Studio Ghibli on the international map and they don't use Totoro as their mascot by coincidence.  The curiosity and wonder of the girls meeting Totoro is absolutely precious.

My two-year old can't get enough of Totoro and goes crazy every time I wear a Totoro-face shirt.  It's slow-paced, but builds to some pretty amazing moments and will captivate younger viewers.  Watch this movie and be transported back to childhood when magic still happened every day. 

TO BUY and Recommendations: