My Neighbor Totoro (1988/2006)



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My Neighbor Totoro is the third feature-length film from Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s second. It was originally released in 1988 and Disney re-released it with an English dub in 2006. Dakota and Elle Fanning voice the two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, that get to interact with the large spirit Totoro.

The girls moved to the country with their father to be closer to the hospital where their mother is recovering. A local, elderly, woman serves as a surrogate grandmother, Granny, and caretaker for the girls while their father is at work in the city. Both the father and Granny are supportive and tolerant of the girl’s adventures. Granny remembers her interactions with the local spirits and is very understanding of the girls.

The girls miss their mother and are dealing with her absence in their unique ways. The spirit animals help to distract them and give them comfort in a time when they need it the most. The movie explores the innocence of a child, but also their perception of the world around them. The girls get frustrated with the cancellation of a weekend visit by their mother. Mei struggles to deal with this setback, but ultimately works out her feelings with the help of her sister and Totoro.

My Neighbor Totoro helped pave the way for decades of Studio Ghibli films, like Ponyo. Hayao Miyazaki is a prolific writer and director and hit his stride from the very beginning. When you want to take a break from the world and relive some of the innocence of your childhood, watch My Neighbor Totoro. The movie is one of the best-animated movies and has legions of fans. Take a trip to any comic/anime convention and you will see plenty of My Neighbor Totoro Imagery.

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©2019 by Sean Whitehurst