Review

  • I was initially skeptical on the quality of this one, but surprisingly this film was both engaging and beautiful from start to finish. Loosely based on Miyazakis own childhood, My Neighbor Totoro is a simplistic story with a kind of charm, depth, and broad appeal that makes it irresistible. When two girls move to a new farmhouse to be closer to their ailing mother, they have to deal with some of life's more eccentric experiences, that of impending death and incredible magic. At its heart, its about the uninhibited curiosity of childhood, and the innocence in accepting everything without question, to such an extent that magic is a very real reality. The otherworldly in this film, comes in the form of Totoro, an animal spirit who is the guardian of the forest near the girls home. Overall, this film is absolutely spectacular. Kids will love it, though some of the deeper meaning will be lost on them. Adults will also love it, as a nostalgic ride through childhood and for some of the more profound themes running throughout the film. Technically, though made in 1988, the animation in this film looks every bit as stunning today. Totoros forest and the many quiet landscape shots are absolutely gorgeous. Disney, eat your heart out. The film is paced slow, letting the film unfurl at a relaxing pace through its scant 86 minute runtime. The lethargic pace, along with Miyazakis expressive camera pans and attention to detail lend the girls discovery of their home/the forest, the famous cat bus scene, and every moment with Totoro a very 360 degree, hypnotic feel. The new English dub is well done without losing much in translation, retaining the witty and lighthearted exchanges from the original. Overall, this films serves as a great introduction into the world of Miyazaki, and remains a timeless classic in its own right. Miyazakis most lighthearted venture also remains his most introspective and grounded work. Even without the whimsicality of Spirited Away and Kikis Delivery Service, this is by far his most engaging and charming film. Essential viewing.