Japanese animated filmaker Hayao Miyazaki has a deep and abiding love of nature, and of the Japanese Shinto spirits who live deep in the forest. Miyazaki shares this love in this wonderful film about two young girls who go to live with their father in a country house in rural Japan, far removed from the city lights of Tokyo.
One of Miyazaki's gifts is how he captures the mannerisms of children, especially little girls. The boisterous innocence of how the sisters laugh and play, however, does not mean they are not capable of deep sensitivity. Indeed, the serious part of this story is that their mother is sick in a hospital.
The new house and new neighbors provide many adventures for the girls, who soon discover the friendly and magical Shinto spirits who dwell in the nearby woods. Like an old-fashioned European fairy-tale, the spirits, who would normally be hidden, respond to the girl's kindness. One especially memorable scene happens when the girls are waiting at the rural bus stop for their father to come home from visiting his wife.
From a summer sky suddenly dark and about to burst with rain, to a slow setting of the sun, the animation in Totoro is amazing in it's simplicity. The quiet nature scenes are extremely relaxing for adults, who will become nostalgic for their childhood while viewing this classic.
One scene is deeply moving and speaks of the bonds that can form between people who aren't even related. It is of an old woman praying fervently for the little sister, who has become lost while trying to find her way to her mother. This scene, and the climactic ending, will touch your heart.