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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie
Miyazaki is simply brilliant and it shows in his works. This movie exudes charm and can be enjoyed but anyone.
If you're not familiar with Studio Ghibli, or Hayao Miyazaki, collectively, they are responsible for a large number of blockbuster Japanese animation films. Studio Ghibli's movies are only beginning to gain a presence in the North American market, in spite...
Published on Oct. 9 2004 by Chouster

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the film 1 star for the DVD spec
According to the release info, the DVD will contain only the English dub soundtrack (in Dolby Surround 2.0) and pan & scan 1.33:1 video transfer (and trailers for some US films). LAME!!!
The Japanese version contained a lot more: 1:85:1 anamorphic video, both Japanese (Dolby Surround 2.0) and English (Dolby 1.0) soundtracks and subtitles, 15 minutes featurette,...
Published on Sept. 20 2002 by NutMac


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie, Oct. 9 2004
This review is from: My Neighbour Totoro (DVD)
Miyazaki is simply brilliant and it shows in his works. This movie exudes charm and can be enjoyed but anyone.
If you're not familiar with Studio Ghibli, or Hayao Miyazaki, collectively, they are responsible for a large number of blockbuster Japanese animation films. Studio Ghibli's movies are only beginning to gain a presence in the North American market, in spite of the fact that they have been released years ago. Many have been influenced by these movies including John Lasseter, director of Pixar's A Bug's Life and the Toy Story series. He calls Miyazaki's works as being "the most inspirational films".
This movie is about a father and his two daughters who have moved into a new house located in a rural village. While the mother is in the hospital, the two girls begin to explore the surroundings of their new dwelling. In one unexpected chance, Mei discovers a Totoro. Without spoiling too much, the film explores the encounter and their subsequent meetings.
Although the plot does not seem overly complex, it needn't be. It takes a simple plot and still manages to capture your interest.
Intertwined with a great soundtrack, this movie is for anyone. I would greatly encourage anyone to delve into the Studio Ghibli world of animation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful family entertainment, Dec 28 2010
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This review is from: My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
I've owned this movie for at least 10 year and my children and I have watched it over and over as they have grown. I have just bought extra copies for my young nieces. It's charming and funny and will entertain anyone from about age 4 up. The key elements of the story line are easy to follow and the children in the movie do some of the strange little things that kids do when confronted with unusual situations, which make them seem real and endearing. Sometimes the translated dialogue comes out a little clumsy, but for me, it adds to the charm.

Don't worry if you are not a fan of anime or are turned off by the coarse looking character animation -- by about 15 mins into the movie you won't even care. This is classical animation, not multi-billion polygon computer animation, and Miyazaki and his animators create gorgeous backgrounds that capture glorious mixes of form and shadow for their characters to play in. My kids and I have often commented when traveling, "Those look like Totoro clouds" or "Camphor tree!! Camphor tree!!".

Pick up this classic - you won't be disappointed!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even my three-year old likes this one!, Nov. 27 2012
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This review is from: My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
A sweet, bright and cheerful movie for adults and kids alike. You will be amazed at the attention to detail in both the artistry and the characters. Miyazaki studies his medium from every angle, and presents a piece of artwork that is beautiful to behold.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the film 1 star for the DVD spec, Sept. 20 2002
By 
NutMac "NutMac" (Mountain View, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My Neighbour Totoro (DVD)
According to the release info, the DVD will contain only the English dub soundtrack (in Dolby Surround 2.0) and pan & scan 1.33:1 video transfer (and trailers for some US films). LAME!!!
The Japanese version contained a lot more: 1:85:1 anamorphic video, both Japanese (Dolby Surround 2.0) and English (Dolby 1.0) soundtracks and subtitles, 15 minutes featurette, storyboard-to-film comparison, opening and end sequence without the text, 20 minutes "Mitaka No Mori Ghibli Museum" featurette, 3 trailers of Totoro, and trailers for several other Ghibli films.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Totoro : A Delightul Neighbor, June 9 2004
This review is from: My Neighbour Totoro (DVD)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miyazaki: gentle genius, Dec 30 2011
By 
charlie1406000 (Vancouver Island Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Director Miyazaki's charmer crosses cultural and ethnic boundaries with grace and has universal appeal. Much better for small children than Spirited Away and some of his later work. For me it is the all-time best family animated movie. I still get a lump in my throat every time I watch it and my grand-daughters love it and search for acorns from Totoro in the back yard. They asked me to go inside so Totoro would show up because only children get to hang out with him. And who knows, he may be sitting in the top branches of the Oak tree in our back yard in the Pacific Northwest tossing acorns down for the girls to find. The movie is charming, funny and moving and shows a slice of country life in Japan that is inviting and beautiful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie - Terrible DVD - Shame on FOX, Dec 6 2002
By 
H. Thompson (Swainsboro, GA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Neighbour Totoro (DVD)
Under the less-than-knowledgable assumption on the part of FOX Home Video that this is a less-than-average kids flick, they have taken a monumental family movie and reduced it to the shelf space of Barney (the purple dinosaur). One has to ask why?
I'm not necessarily asking for deleted scenes or any of the nice attributes that the Japanese release had, but don't we (the American consumer) at least deserve the widescreen version as an option? Come on FOX get with the times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars He's come to deliver what you've lost, June 2 2011
By 
Steven Aldersley (Oshawa, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
My Neighbor Totoro (animation, adventure, family)
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring the voices of Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly and Pat Carroll

Disney / Buena Vista | 1988 | 86 min | Rated G | Released Mar 02, 2010

The Film 5/5

Unlike most of my previous reviews, My Neighbor Totoro hasn't yet been released on Blu-ray. Disney is working its way through the Studio Ghibli titles and has released most of them on DVD, but a Blu-ray release for this particular film is likely one or two years away. While I intend to own them all on the best possible format, I just had to buy Totoro on DVD until it sees a high definition release.

This is going to be a difficult review because my love for Studio Ghibli and its worlds is hard to put into words. I'll do my best.

Hayao Miyazaki's films aren't for everyone. They should be, but it just isn't the case. The reason is that we in North America have come to expect a certain style when it comes to animation.

Animated movies are typically fast-paced and filled with action. They have heroes, villains, chase scenes and conflict. What's more, they are noisy. It seems that without constant action, there's a fear that the audience might become bored. This is not a criticism, merely an observation. I'm quite happy watching such things as Kung Fu Panda, Megamind, Tangled or How to Train Your Dragon.

Miyazaki's films don't follow the typical Hollywood style. Until very recently, everything was hand-drawn. Each frame is like a watercolor painting and has a certain beauty. Those who only watch modern CGI animation may not appreciate the classic two-dimensional style.

Another huge difference is the pacing. Instead of constant action, you'll see occasional shots of the countryside, a stream, an animal or clouds. It's a cultural difference and reflects a society in which people are more in tune with nature and the simple joy of being alive. Miyazaki's stories unfold gradually in their own time.

Like most Studio Ghibli releases, Totoro doesn't contain any villains. We are shown situations that its characters encounter and have to figure out. It works because the characters are well-defined and we care about them. We want to see how they will proceed and whether they will succeed.

The story is set in the 1950s in a Japanese village and begins with Professor Kusakabe (Daly) arriving at his new house, along with daughters Satsuki and Mei (Dakota and Elle Fanning). Satsuki is about 10 years old and Mei around 4. The sisters are delighted with their new home. Mei mimics her sister's actions and sometimes repeats what she says. I have never seen a more realistic depiction of how children think and behave.

The children are full of life and explore their new house with excitement. It's rumored to be haunted, but they only encounter soot sprites which leave at the sound of laughter. The sprites are only visible to children. Another cultural difference is highlighted when the professor shares a bath with his daughters. His girls happily help with the chores before they run off to play. This is a world in which TV doesn't exist. The children spend their free time playing outside.

Professor Kusakabe puts the girls on his bicycle and takes them to a hospital where their mother is being treated. Miyazaki's own mother suffered from tuberculosis and, although it's never stated, this is probably what Mrs. Kusakabe was recovering from. It's not typical for animated films to deal with such themes as illness, but this is a realistic world and the situation fits. They learn that she's almost ready to return home and see their new house.

Satsuki cooks for the family and her father works at home when he's not lecturing at the university. It's a benign world where children walk to school without any fear of abduction or similar dangers.

Mei isn't yet old enough for school and plays outside while her father works at his desk. She views the world with the charming fascination of a child, exploring her surroundings and watching tadpoles swim in the stream. Then she sees a pair of white ears in the long grass, belonging to a creature resembling a rabbit. The creature scurries away from her alternating between visible and invisible. She tracks it into a tunnel formed by overhanging trees. After entering a hole in the trunk of a vast tree she emerges in a clearing occupied by a giant sleeping creature.

We are more than 30 minutes into the film before she encounters the sleeping totoro. The film takes its time and doesn't feel the need to introduce the creature from the start. It looks like a cross between a cat, a teddy bear and an owl. She prods it inquisitively and it seems unconcerned by her presence. There's no sense of danger and she simply curls up on top of it and falls asleep. Her father and sister notice she is missing and set out to find her. When they arrive, she's sleeping on the ground in the forest with no sign of the totoro.

When she tells her unlikely story, her father and sister believe her. They accept that she wouldn't lie. It's very refreshing to see that kind of trust between adult and child. Professor Kusakabe speculates that the totoro can only be seen when he wants to be seen and that Mei was very lucky to have the chance. These simple words make her happy.

The film defies our expectations at every turn. When her father has to go to the university, Mei starts to miss Satsuki, so the old woman looking after her takes her to the school. Satsuki explains to the teacher that their father will be home in a couple of hours and Mei is allowed to stay with the older children. She feels important and quietly sits at her desk drawing a picture of the totoro.

I don't want to give away the whole story, but the totoro has an important part to play in the lives of the girls. The most worrying part of the film lasts about ten minutes, but it's a realistic situation and doesn't contain any villains. Their friend the totoro is a reassuring presence and knows how to solve the problem.

The girls are very sweet, but it isn't overdone. Little Mei is probably my favorite character in any animated film. She's thoroughly adorable. Miyazaki's drawings are quite simple, but he can convey emotion with just a few expressions. He varies the size of the children's mouths and eyes according to the mood of the scene.

My Neighbor Totoro is set in a world that no longer exists. The parents care deeply for their children and the two sisters love and depend on each other. Villagers pull together in times of crisis and care about their neighbors. Children respect older people and there's no sense of danger. It's a warm and happy place to visit and I wish the real world were more like Miyazaki's imaginary ones. This is what human beings are supposed to be like.

Miyazaki has a wonderful imagination and it's even more prominent in fantasy worlds such as those encountered in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away. All of his stories have warmth and heart. If you see him interviewed, it's apparent that he loves what he does. His enthusiasm is infectious and he smiles when he talks about his worlds. He sees things that most of us take for granted and miss altogether.

I consider My Neighbor Totoro to be the perfect family film. It may also be the happiest film I've ever seen and the relationship between the sisters is wonderful to watch. They aren't constantly bickering. If Mei gets tired, Satsuki carries her. Adults treat children seriously and genuinely want to know what's important to them. In today's world, with the pressures adults place on themselves, that isn't always the case.

Miyazaki has crafted a film filled with wonder and a sense of discovery. It's like returning to your childhood and seeing the world from that perspective. The expressions of concentration, determination and pure wonder on Mei's face are depicted perfectly. The film is full of beauty. I don't just mean the animation - although it is beautiful - I'm also referring to the actions performed by the people and creatures in the film.

The feelings created by the story are considerably enhanced by Joe Hisaishi's haunting score. He's responsible for the music in all of Miyazaki's films and the two have established a good understanding. The melodies seem so simple, but it's hard to imagine the film without their presence.

While I'm delighted that Disney is releasing the Studio Ghibli titles on Blu-ray, it can't happen fast enough. Some will argue that the English dub of the film ruins the experience. The good thing about the recent releases is that the original Japanese version is included as an option. If you want to experience the film in its native language, you can now do so, with or without subtitles.

There's also a short film set in the same world; Mei and the Kittenbus. It hasn't been released commercially, but is sometimes shown at the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka, Japan. You'll have to reserve a ticket in advance if you want to pay a visit. It's a long trip to see a 14-minute short film, but it's currently the only way to see it. My forlorn hope is to see the short included among the special features when the film is released on Blu-ray.

I would recommend Miyazaki's films to everyone, although I realize that some people won't connect with them. The potential reward is worth the time investment. If you have children, there's even more reason to give one a try. Try to go in with an open mind. My Neighbor Totoro isn't about constant action or conflict, but it's an experience that shouldn't be missed. It's closer to a film like Bambi than Megamind or Despicable Me.

Just because a film is about young children, it doesn't mean that the viewer has to be a young child in order to appreciate the story. Pixar has elevated North American films to new levels over the past two decades, but I can honestly say that Studio Ghibli, and Miyazaki in particular, has produced films with more heart. They are beautiful, magical and full of imagination. These stories matter to me and I can't wait to see the next one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spirits of the forest, May 16 2010
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Nobody captures the magic of childhood and bottles it into movie form quite like Hayao Miyazaki -- and one steller example of this is "My Neighbor Totoro," an enchanting little film about two little girls who encounter strange, wondrous things in the woods. There's not much actual plot, but the journey is the truly lovely part, and the lush animation and weird creatures (catbus! CATBUS!) finish off the perfection.

Satsuki and her toddler sister Mei move to the countryside with their father, so they can be close to the hospital where their mother is being treated (apparently for tuberculosis). The girls are immediately taken under the wing of an old lady, and discover that the countryside is filled with strange and magical creatures -- especially little balls of soot that dance through uncleaned rooms in their house.

What's more, while waiting for a bus Satsuki ends up standing next to a giant grinning bunny-creature -- whom Mei learns is called Totoro -- who boards a giant leaping cat-bus. The girls soon befriend the trio of Totoro, who take them on magical adventures involving giant fast-growing trees, flying with umbrellas, and riding in the cat-bus. But after the girls learn that their mother has become ill and can't visit, Mei vanishes without a trace -- and Satsuki may need Totoro's help to find her.

"My Neighbor Totoro" is sort of a fantasy slice-of-life story -- it's basically a few days in the life of two chipper little girls, who happen to be living in a Japanese countryside filled with genial spirits and magical happenings. There's no real plot at the center of it, but such is Miyazaki's skill that you never really care. You just want to see if things will turn out all right in the short term, and revel in the innocence of being little kids in the countryside.

To that end, Miyazaki spins up a magical little world -- houses are filled with bug-eyed sootballs, a tunnel in the bushes may lead to a Totoro's lair, and a vegetable garden can sprout into a vast towering tree. It's all painted in lush, vibrant colors and great detail, and Miyazaki does a good job emphasizing the little moments of everyday life (Mei showing up at Satsuki's school) and interweaving them with the more fantastical stuff (Totoro flying across windswept fields with an umbrella).

But he never forgets that real life has its bumps in the road -- there's a genuinely touching subplot in which the girls hear that their mother is ill again, and there's a genuine sense of fear. It's not too harsh (it's a kid's movie, after all), but it taps into a very primal fear that every little kid has.

The characters are all rather simple, but they're still quite likable, with upbeat personalities and loud laughter. Satsuki is particular is a realistic kid, staying positive most of the time but occasionally blowing up at Mei or crying out of fear that her mother will die. The only character I didn't understand was the boy in the cap, who seems troubled and shy, but who is never fully explored.

This movie has always gotten skimped somewhat on the extras, so it's nice to see that it's finally getting some attention -- it has the Disney dub (which is quite good) and original Japanese dub, storyboards, behind-the-scenes featurette, and a pair of interactive features called "World of Ghibli" and "Enter the Lands".

While it's more obviously aimed at kids than many of Miyazaki's movies, "My Neighbor Totoro" is an enchanting little story with a warm heart, and Hayao Miyazaki perfectly captures the innocence of childhood. Plus, it has a big, furry, grinning bus.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the finest family movie to ever come out of Japan, April 30 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: My Neighbour Totoro (DVD)
Master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has created a delightful work of sheer beauty in My Neighbor Totoro. The story centers around two girls who move into the countryside with their father. Their mother is in the hospital, and when she seems to be getting better, she has a relapse. An urgent telegram is sent to the house, where it is read by Satsuki (the older sister). Neither child knows how to react to this; Mei runs away, and it is up to Satsuki and the Totoro of the forest to find her.
I first saw this movie when the original Fox VHS came out (I was about 5 at that point, and got it as a Christmas present), and continue to be enchanted by it today. As soon as I heard that it was being released on DVD, I ordered a copy, but alas, I should have waited.
To those of you who have the VHS and are considering the DVD, and even to those who have the Fox DVD, I strongly reccomend ordering a copy of the Disney/Studio Ghibly version. It is true that dubbing a movie can do tremendious injustice to a foreign film, and the Japanese language track is a feature that should have been included on the Fox release. Also note that the second disk will be packed with features, including storyboard drawings, cast interviews, and a myriad of other interesting morsels.
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My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Special Edition)
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