Tonari no Totoro
- My Neighbor Totoro
- by Hayao Miyazaki
- Studio Ghibli
Japan 1950: Tatsuo Kusakabe moves with his two little daughters (Satsuki and Mei) to the countryside to be closer to the hospitalized mother who suffers from a long term illness. The girls like the rural life and one day the younger daughter Mei meets a small, bunny like creature in the yard. Following the small creature, Mei discovers the giant forest spirit Totoro. They become friends. After a short time, her sister Satsuki also meets Totoro and both girls live a happy life filled with magic and adventures. They also meet many different creatures from the forest.
The anime movie has a great and amusing story line: the imagination of two young girls. Important to mention is that the giant creature named Totoro is based on a children book owned by Mei. The movie is very lovely because it brings the audience’s own memories of the imagination back. You start thinking about creating your own imaginary world in your mind. The movie gives you many happy feelings.
It is not only a fantasy movie but it also includes many important messages. At the beginning an old lady says if you smile the black ‘Susuwatari’ (dust-like house spirits) will disappear. In other words, laughing and smiling will make the fear and dark emotions go away. It might also mean: you should always be happy and laugh with your family because this will fade the darkness and sadness away. A further important message is the symbol of the sudden appearance of Totoro. He arrives to make children laugh and smile. In addition, he helps them to overcome their sad emotions and bad moments such as the illness of the mother as she has to stay in the hospital. Even though the children do not really show their suffering, they kinda need Totoro to deal with the illness of their mother. To sum up, the appearance of Totoro is a result of the children’s imaginations (because their father can not see Totoro) to deal with their sadness.
‘Tonari no Totoro’ contains several emotional aspects. The movie shows the suffering of the girls especially at the end of the movie because their mom is not able to come home as promised. On the other side, many moments of happiness can also be noticed: the girls are excited about everything and they laugh a lot. Also the love within the family is very strong. For example, Satsuki wants to protect her little sister and the whole family wants to help the mother to recover from her illness.
Moreover, we also like the fact that many fantasy elements are included which makes the movie very enjoyable to watch especially for children. The different spirits from small to big such as Totoro are the highlights. We also like the Susuwatari and the Nekobasu (transl. catbus.) The latter is very interesting and funny because of the multiple legs and the fluffy and comfortable seats. We are really fond of the bus because he also helps the kids. An interesting fact: Susuwatari can also be seen in ‘Spirited Away’.
We really like the depiction of the divers characters in the movie. For example, Satsuki has a very lively personality, she is very protective regarding her younger sister Mei. Similar to Satsuki, Mei is also very lively but also curious. Nonetheless, the highlight of the characters is definitely Totoro who has a very cute and helpful personality. He does not talk and can only be seen by the children. Also Nekobus is invisible to the adults which can be seen as he runs through the fields and people do not even notice him with the exception of a light breeze.
As being a quite old movies, the art is really not bad for that time. We like the environment and natural scenes especially the forests and trees are astonishing. The background art really stands out and is very beautiful. However, we think that the characters are not bad but they could have been a bit more appealing, but they all differ in their appearances. We love the design of Totoro and the other spirits because they are very cute and amusing.
Another fascinating aspect is the music. Not only the opening theme is very good and amusing, but also the melody during the movie itself is very entertaining. Those melodies make you enjoying the movie even more and bring feelings of happiness. Also the ending theme fits perfectly because it talks about Totoro.
All in all, ‘Totoro’ is definitely one of the best work by Hayao Miyazaki. Even though the movie is more like a family or rather a children’s movie, it is very entertaining and consists of various important messages. The depiction of Totoro makes you loving the movie even more. Therefore, we recommend the movie because it is a must-seen especially for anime fans.