I absolutely agree with Roger Ebert who called "My Neighbor Totoro", "One of the most beloved of all family films". Its colorfully bright and sparkling animation is enchanting. It is incredibly realistic and at the same time makes us along with two main characters, the young sisters ready for a miracle to happen any minute. The gentle story is touching, uplifting, funny, and tender without being overly sentimental or didactic. The film takes place in the early 50s, when 10-year-old Satsuki and her baby sister, curious and energetic 4-year-old Mei spend one summer in an old house in the country side with their University professor father while their mother recovers from a serious illness in the nearby hospital. The great master Hayao Miyazaki remembers well what it is like to be a child, to see magic in the everyday life and be always ready to encounter it. This ability usually disappears as the child becomes adult but it stays forever in a few chosen, and they become the visionary Artists - just like Miyazaki himself. The film is partially autobiographical for the writer/director/storyboard artist. "When Miyazaki and his brothers were children, his mother suffered from spinal tuberculosis for nine years, and spent much of her time hospitalized. It is implied, yet never revealed in the film, that Satsuki and Mei's mother also suffers from tuberculosis. He once said the film would have been too painful for him to make if the two protagonists were boys instead of girls." (From the IMDb film trivia)
Totoro of the title is an adorable funny blue forest spirit who lives in the nest beneath a huge tree and makes the trees grow and the winds blow. Totoro becomes the friend and protector of the sisters and one day he sends them on the bus journey that is like nothing they and the viewers could ever imagine. I wish I could ride that cat bus. What a wild and kind imagination an artist should have to create it. How much happier we all are knowing that Hayao Miyazaki exists and makes his amazing films at the Studio Ghibli for which King Totoro is the mascot.
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