My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Director: Hayeo Miyazaki
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Fantasy, Japanese Anime
Miyazaki is a well known favourite for children’s animated films. Why? His films are simply charming.
My Neighbor Totoro is a simple film but a delightfully warm, charming, fuzzy film. Did I just call a film fuzzy? Well that’s exactly what My Neighbor Totoro is.
The story of the film follows two young sisters named Satsuki and Mei; with soft suitable voice performances by Dakota and Elle Fanning, who move into their new home with their father whilst their sick mother is in hospital.
After younger sister Mei wonders into the woods she comes across an incredibly large cat-rabbit-squirrel-like creature who is described as a forest spirit along with other magical spirit creatures.
Satsuki is the older sister and takes much more responsibility between the two but Totoro keeps her childhood somewhat in place whilst she is on the edge of maturing and dealing with her mothers sickness.
What’s most loveable about the film is that Totoro keeps the girls life in order with the magic and fantasy of the forest. It’s warm and simple and it isn’t a film that particularly keeps you guessing, it simply flows through the lives of the characters smoothly with its lush painted backgrounds and original, glowing animation.
The characters have their own charm, whilst Mei simply has the ‘cute factor’, Sasuki has her gentle sisterly side. Along with a few other characters such as ‘cat bus’ if you can call him a character, i’m not too sure but he’s quite a magical character; prancing and leaping through the star filled sky carrying the children through the night in their own world of fantasy.
It’s noticeable that cat bus appears a lot similar to the Cheshire Cat from Alice In Wonderland which adds to the magic and mystery of the film and whether it’s the girls imaginations or not.
I don’t quite think it’s Miyazaki’s greatest animation, but the My Neighbor Totoro offers something many films do not; simplicity. A simple, elegantly charming and adorably heart warming story to find yourself lost in. A story filled with enchanting creatures, beautiful animation and loveable characters. What could be more perfect for a cosy night in?