- Actors: Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Shigesato Itoi, Sumi Shimamoto
- Directors: Hayao Miyazaki
- Writers: Hayao Miyazaki
- Producers: Eiko Tanaka, Ned Lott, Rick Dempsey, Toru Hara, Yasuyoshi Tokuma
- Format: Animated, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, THX, Widescreen, NTSC
- Language: English, French, Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Dubbed: English, Japanese
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Number of discs: 2
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Release Date: March 7 2006
- Run Time: 86 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 424 customer reviews
- ASIN: B0001XAQ0A
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #59,668 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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My Neighbor Totoro
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My Neighbor Totoro is that rare delight, a family film that appeals to children and adults alike. While their mother is in the hospital, 10-year-old Satsuki and 4-year-old Mei move into an old-fashioned house in the country with their professor father. At the foot of an enormous camphor tree, Mei discovers the nest of King Totoro, a giant forest spirit who resembles an enormous bunny rabbit. Mei and Satsuki learn that Totoro makes the trees grow, and when he flies over the countryside or roars in his thunderous voice, the winds blow. Totoro becomes the protector of the two sisters, watching over them when they wait for their father, and carrying them over the forests on an enchanted journey. When the children worry about their mother, Totoro sends them to visit her via a Catbus, a magical, multilegged creature with a grin the Cheshire Cat might envy.
Unlike many cartoon children, Satsuki and Mei are neither smart-alecky nor cloyingly saccharine. They are credible kids: bright, energetic, silly, helpful, and occasionally impatient. Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki makes the viewer believe the two sisters love each other in a way no American feature has ever achieved. My Neighbor Totoro is enormously popular in Japan, and some of the character merchandise has begun to appear in America. The film has also inspired a Japanese environmental group to buy a Totoro Forest preserve in the Saitama Prefecture, where Miyazaki's film is set. --Charles Solomon --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
What makes this movie so good? Made by Studio Gibli and it's co-founder, Hayao Miyazaki (called the Walt Disney of Japan). It's a virtually perfect blend of family, detail and fantasy all rolled into one! It starts out with two sisters and their father moving into a run-down rural house that they've rented for the summer. Then slowly ups the ante that there may be more to this house than meets the eyes as the little sister starts to see little critters that no one else can see! She's absolutely adorable.
In fact this is one of the best parts of Ghibli movies; their characters are all so absolutely real. The little sister looks like, acts like, throws tantrums like, explores like just any little pre-schooler would. Then throw in the older sister who's trying to take care of her, the house and their father while their mother is away in the hospital fighting some unknown illness and you can just feel the realism and the family dynamics. Then when the older sister also starts to see things that shouldn't exist and discovers the guardian of the forest is a big gentle giant by the name of Totoro; it really gets to be both exciting and fun at the same time with magical cat buses, dust bunnies that can actually move and all sorts of magical adventures!
The other thing I like about this and later Ghibli movies like Kiki's Delivery Service, Arrietty, Whisper of the Heart and Ponyo (all of which I highly recommend) is that these movies don't fall back on the usual stereotypes of some despicable villain that has to be fought and stopped. Or everything always has to be settled with a fight. Instead they have lots of action, wonderful discoveries at every turn; but no villain! There is a major problem to be solved, friends to be rescued or helped, but things don't have to be settled with violence! That is so refreshing at times.
This is one of those rare family movies that adults will like equally with their kids. And even today with the thousands of movies I've seen; this is still and always will be one of my absolute favourites. Five stars all the way!
P.S. - Don't confuse this Disney version of Totoro with an older Pan and Scan version that was originally marketed over ten years ago by Fox. This is a top quality 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks superb in either dvd or BD versions. Reviews that talk about it being cut are referring to the older no-longer sold Fox version.
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.
So purchased it and watched over and over.
Some might say it is rather boring but for someone who doesn't like villains or foes, this is a fine movie.
My Neighbor Totoro is, simply put, a child's imagination brought to life; fanciful tales that become reality, replete with picturesque wonders that reveal the magical and mysterious. Hidden from adult eyes, the otherworldly rewards only those of pure heart. Spirits and mystic guardians of the forest, they embody the creativity and candidness of children—content to experience the simple joys of life and the beauty of nature. With down-to-earth characterization, Satsuki and Mei are splendid lenses into the film's world, their optimism and enthusiasm ensuring every little discovery resonates with the audience—a magical tale that is an adventure for kids, and an opportunity to revisit childhood for adults; a genuine moment of reflection.
Although the setting lacks depth, My Neighbor Totoro alleviates this by deftly weaving together fantasy and realism. Very little is explained and detailed, but its integration of the imaginary is both natural and unobtrusive. A big house nestled amidst greenery, uninhabited for decades, a likely home to the mysterious. Satsuki and Mei, true to their age, are explorers of the unknown—their interactions with the rich environment are not only a delight to observe, but also a reflection of the curiosity inherent within every child.
Unveiled with mystique, uncanny soot creatures emerge from the house's floor and scamper into the shadows as the heroines enthusiastically tour the dark rooms of their new abode. Even if slightly scared at first, Satsuki and Mei's fear quickly gives way to curiosity, then excitement, and finally delight. The two adventurous sisters stumble upon a new world, and like any child would, wholeheartedly embrace its magic. This very sense of wonder is what leads them to the mythical spirit Totoro, protector and guardian of the forest. Intimidating in size, but gentle in nature, the fuzzy giant embraces the two of them with otherworldly tenderness. In an ever-so-subtle way, he becomes a link between the characters and the forest itself, introducing them to many of its magic wonders.
In essence, My Neighbor Totoro is more about inspiring one's imagination—an honest message about the importance of childhood and a connection with nature—than creating a fantasy backdrop. Complexity is absent, but the presentation is delivered with finesse and flair. Much of this is due to the laid-back pace and the amiable guidance of the protagonists, slowly hinting at the mysteries that may be hidden in the nooks and crannies of dark rooms and lush forests. All the viewer needs to do is to sit down, relax, and enjoy the magic unfold.
Allowing their daughters the liberty to go and explore the surroundings of their new home, Satsuki and Mei's parents are often absent physically, but present in spirit. As caring guardians, the parents concern themselves with their troublesome daredevils in an earnest and honest fashion. These carefree dynamics connect the otherwise distant adult world with the children's, instilling a sense of trust and intimacy among the family. In this sense, Miyazaki makes a conscious effort of displaying human relationships in a sincere and natural style.
True to Ghibli's reputation, My Neighbor Totoro's visuals are masterfully crafted with great attention to even the most minute details. Rich with body language and facial expressions, the screenplay succeeds in the art of showing and not just telling, breathing nuance and realism into the cast's actions and interactions. These subtleties add striking believability to the characters, as adults and children alike look and behave according to their ages. The physical environments, too, are vividly detailed, setting the stage for the integration of the cast and fantasy—be it the cluttered rooms of a house recently moved into, or the green vastness and richness of the countryside.
Likewise, the film's sound department is remarkably well-polished. Joe Hisaishi's compositions harmoniously blend with the mood of the scenes—the tempo is upbeat in situations of excitement and discovery, while smooth when tension is low. The timing is delicate, but more than anything, the tracks themselves are what stand out most. Charming and varied, the melodic tunes make extraordinary scenes even more memorable. The careful management not only soothes body and mind, but also permits the soundtrack to lace key scenes with vivid and meaningful tonality. Interesting to note, though, is that for most of the movie, there is no background music. Instead, focus is placed on environmental sounds, allowing the countryside setting to weave its own atmosphere. In concordance with the naturalistic tone of the story, this adds a more organic touch to the presentation—one focused on painting nature in its purest form.
A tale intended for kids, yet a journey fit for audiences of all ages, My Neighbor Totoro is a splendid story that encapsulates the beauty of childhood. The film's wonderful portrayal of Satsuki and Mei's imagination conveys a true sense of jollity present in most children. Beyond its realism, the film delivers a dazzlingly magical experience by way of its supernatural encounters with the manifestations of nature. But this occurs ever so gently, that one could consider it a dream-like tale that both begins and ends in blissful serenity. A true classic, My Neighbor Totoro will remain in the hearts of many as a heartwarming experience of one of the purest and most beautiful memories: a frolicsome childhood, never to be forgotten.
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