on June 9, 2004
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.
on March 24, 2004
Tonarino Totoro is 3rd movie for Miyazaki. In Japan roadshow, the movie was showed with [Hotaruno Haka]. I like latter movie in the point that expressed the real story, the poverty of World War2. But the person's favorite movie will be different by individual tendency. I had the tendency that liked documental and truth story than fantasy story. Off course for young children or the person that like fantasy, Totoro will be the best movie. The two movie before Totoro was fantasy but war and agressive movies. Totoro was a first movie that there was not war scene. When we watch such a point, the movie will be safe movie that child can watch. And the character of Totoro is also very cute and unique, Totoro off course,[Neko bus=cat bass]etc.
But Mr.Miyazaki did not forget to include his messages to this movie. Maybe foreigners would feel unique things in the movie atomospher, for instance, big forests or secret paassages etc. But there was such scenery in Japan in fact. And the sketch was done in Tokyo. Though I have lived in Tokyo more than 20 years, I have not cared about such scenery. Off course though what nature is losing will be truth, but in addition to that, I think that Miyazaki want to tell us that we should notice the nature, even if here is downtown city.
The movie that Miyazaki make is included the important messages. Even if watcher is not Japanese, will be able to think about the messages. That is to say, nature is one of imoportant things for human.
And I am surprised that many U.S,A people knew Miyazaki's movies. I can understand the reason that is said that Japan is anime country.
I am sorry for my poor English.
on January 19, 2004
I was at a store and saw My Neighbor Totoro on DVD and I flipped! I have it on VHS and it is one of the most enjoyable, beautifully painted and almost meditative films I have ever seen. Then, I was quite angry when I got Totoro home to find it is stupid full frame rather than letterboxed! Trust me, you do not want to miss any of the backgrounds in any of Hayao Miyazaki's films. This is why just 4 stars and not 5! This film is slow in pace, not for sugar-enhanced kids (or parents who need angry robots fighting in space. This is like looking up at the trees and clouds from a hammock on a warm summer's day. Tired of there being a lack of positive strong young girl characters in film? Hayao Miyazaki seems to have a father's love of them. When a film comes from Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, it has nearly a 98% chance of being spectacular and wholly unique. Each of his films has a warmth, passion and innocence that seems to be completely lost in films found in the US mainstream cinema. Spirited Away or any other of Hayao Miyazaki's films, could never have been made in the US. I can hear the Hollywood execs saying this about My Neighbor Totoro, "Let me get this straight, two young girls meet a enormous friendly fuzzy ghost thingy with fangs and claws? Then they get magic acorns and there is a bus that really is a cat with lots of legs? Sounds like your client needs a twelve-step plan. Here's where I went." I seriously doubt that you could meet someone from Japan who doesn't know or maybe collect something from one of Studio Ghibli's films
on November 6, 2003
As you've probably already figured out from other reviews, there's a serious problem here... Fox has taken what is probably not just a great animated film, but one of the best films ever to come out of Japan, and has given it a US DVD release that is nothing short of a kick in the teeth to fans of the movie.
A quick glance at the back of the box will tell you pretty much everything that's wrong here. "Interactive Menus" are NOT a special feature. Neither is "Full-Screen Presentation". Certainly the complete absence of language options isn't a feature, although I'm almost surprised they didn't try to pass it off as one.
That having been said, everything about the movie itself is very, very right. The animation is beautiful, rich and detailed, and the story is simple enough for kids to understand, yet deep enough to reward multiple viewings. Although I'm sure some would disagree, I think the English dubbing is actually very well done, and as far as I know, the movie is, frame-for-frame, identical to the Japanese version -- although that's probably not so much a testament to Fox's wisdom as to their sheer apathy.
If you're a true "otaku", it might be worth your time and money to hunt down a region-free subtitled edition (I'm given to understand Buena Vista actually distributes one in Japan). But if you're just looking for a movie you can share with your kids that won't insult your own intelligence, look no further. This gem shines through even Fox's completely lackluster presentation.
on June 7, 2003
My Neighbor Totoro is one of the most charming animated films ever made. This DVD has no extras, no wide-screen option, and the image could be a bit sharper, but it is still pretty good.
The artwork is superb--with beautiful countryside scenes, rippling water, rainy busstops, and trees blowing in the wind wonderfully done. The fantastic spirit creatures (especially the totoros of varying sizes and the Catbus) are charming and clever.
The human characters are warm and real--in their concern for each other and in their hopes and fears. I liked the suspense that built up when the 4-year-old Mei tries to visit her mother in the hospital, gets lost, and the whole neighborhood searches for her. Of course, her older sister, Satsuki, turns to King Totoro for help. I also liked the magical, dream sequence when Totoro's acorns grow into a giant camphor tree and the children fly with Totoro to the treetops.
Hayao Miyazaki produced a great film for children and their parents to enjoy together. If the DVD was a bit better, I would give it 5 stars,...
on March 26, 2003
I can't add anything to the other reviews here about the movie itself. Yes, it's really that good. Possibly even better. As the old saying goes: if you have a child, are a child, or ever were a child, you need to see this.
I can, unfortunatly, say a few less than positive things about the DVD that Fox/FHE has put together here, and I have to dock a star here, and considered docking more. It's excusable that this is a no-extras release: it's bargain-priced, and I'm sure that the age of the film and the language barrier would make assembling a supplements package difficult. It is NOT excusable that the film is presented ONLY in pan-and-scan format, with ONLY the (admittedly good) English-language soundtrack. This film is a work of art, and the only (legal) way to see it right now in the US is in a form that's been vandalized, and that's a pity.
That said...buy it anyway. Your kids won't notice the difference, and hopefully if this disc sells well someone at Fox will notice and put together a proper edition for the enthusiasts.
on January 29, 2003
I was going to give this review 1 star but that many would think that I'm dissing the movie but I only docked one star from the DVD for one really big reason, its not the features or the lack of widescreen presentation but the audio. I have a DVD Home Theater sound system and I have heard some good Dolby Surround Stereo soundtracks on DVD, but this has to be the worst. When you listen to the track there are hints of crackling noise in the soundfield, the kind of sound you hear on old vinyl records. Chances are this is probably because the movie is 14 years old, and I don't know how old the English audio dub is but I'm guessing it was redone for the 1993 video release and that's most likely the reason. The audio is 10 years old and it wasn't even remastered. I know FOX didn't want to pay buckoo bucks on this edition because their rights for this film will go to Disney in 2004 and they didn't want to make a release just to have Disney come out with another one, but come on, chances are Disney is going to redo the English audio (I hope not, but that might be what happens) and Fox could have remastered the soundtrack and put it into Dolby DIGITAL 2.0 or maybe even a 5.1 soundtrack, but no here is the final report card on the DVD so you can see what you'll be getting:
Movie itself gets: 10/10
Picture quality: 6.5/10
Sound quality: 1.5/10
Fox Flix Previews: 0/10
The DVD is okay if you can't wait until '04 to get a good DVD release. But if you have a multi region DVD player, go to any anime import online store and buy the Region 2 2-disc special edition which has 5.1 audio, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and another disc with bonus features. But those who don't want to pay $.. for an import disc, just pick this up and enjoy it, hopefully it will go out of print soon. Plus, people are complaining about the video image, despite being in fullscreen, the coloring and everything looks just the way it did on VHS and the image didn't suffer anything during the transfer. It's pretty much just the VHS version on DVD. Plus its at a good price!
on December 14, 2002
Okay, I'm an unrepentant nut for Studio Ghibli films, and this is one of the best, most watchable and re-watchable of Hayao Miyazaki's films. But let me add something to these reviews.
That being said, I give the Japanese DVD a 5, even though it contiains 'dubtitles' (subtitles created from the English dub dialog, and not from a more literal translation of the Japanese dialog.) BUT -- you need a special DVD player to play the Japanese version; it won't play in the Region 1 player you have now.
But I still give this USA version a 4. The overly childish-cartooney voices of the English dub can't obscure the poignancy of the ending, where the girls confront the fact that their mother could die from her illness, and the more immediate plight of the youngest child getting lost and her older sister's frantic attempt to find her. Nor can the pan&scan version hide all of the artistry of this animation classic.
If you have young children or you appreciate the artistry of animation, this DVD !MUST! be in your collection.
on May 8, 2003
This was my second delving into Miyazaki after Spirited Away, and while Spirited Away was the superior film, this was still a very enjoyable movie. This film excels most as a story for small children, one of the best children's movies I have ever seen, in fact. As a parent, one element I love about this movie is that are no typical American clichés to be found. There are no villains, fight scenes, and no disbelieving parent or malicious siblings. While the plot may be to simple for adults, it's still charming, and absolutely perfect for children. My only complaint about this DVD has nothing whatsoever to do with the film. FOX has really treated this badly as it's only in pan and scan, there are absolutely no extras, and the sound could use some work. Don't be put off by the cover art either, that's another FOX blunder. The actual film is very visually apealling and doesn't have the garish, cartoony look of the cover art.
on October 11, 1999
I normally do not buy Japanese movie videos mainly because unfortunately they are mostly not entertaining (There are some good ones, I admit.). But, when I happened to see this animation shown at Kinokuniya Bookstore in NYC, I was glued to the video screen for a while. The picture was so detailed and beautiful. So, I bought one. My kids have been watching it a couple of times a day since I bought it four months ago. My 4-year old daughter indentifies herself with "Mei" (or May?).
The things that appear on Totoro are clearly from 50s and early 60s in rural Japan. They must appeal to Japanese people in my generation or older. "Auto Sanrin" (three-wheel truck), for example.
I cannot wait to see his other works. We just saw Kiki's Delivery Service this weekend. I like KDS better than Totoro because KDS has a better story structure and exciting scenes in it. I hear "Castle in the Sky" will be released some time this year. Does anyone know when?