My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Poster

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9/10
A kids movie?
jmjolnir25 November 2003
Picture if you will, a 27 year old male, scanning through his dvd collection, trying to figure out what to watch, on a boring night at home. Suddenly, he stops at My Neighbor Totoro and smiles. Well, that's a pretty typical happenning around the house here.

Miyazaki created a true masterpiece with this film. It has everything a person, of any age, could want. There are points that it is hilarious, a few points where it makes one slightly nervous, the animation is outstanding (as with all Miyazaki films), and aside from lacking a little bit in plot (what movie doesn't nowadays?), the story is wonderful.

One of the things that makes this film shine, at least for me, is that there is absolutely no antagonist role. No bad guy whatsoever, and only a genius like Miyazaki could pull that off.

Is this a childrens movie? Yes, of course it is. Is it a movie only for children? Well... maybe for the inner child inside all of us. There's humour in this movie that the young will laugh at, and there's a bit of humour in the movie that only adults will fully catch and appreciate, without it being "adult humour".

I would reccommend, and have reccommended this film to anyone that would listen.

Thank you again Miyazaki Sensei.
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10/10
The cutest movie I ever saw !
ghostofdaniel18 August 2004
My favorite Miyazaki's movie is "Princess Mononoke" on a graphical scale. But on a "charming scale", this one is really the best.

Even the Disney movies are not so charming than this movie. Poetic, charming, cute, I can't find the words to describe the good this movie made to me. Miyazaki brings us into the wonderlands of the children, better than "Alice in wonderland" or "Peter pan".

In fact, Miyazaki makes us loving children. In the movie, the children run, shout all time, laugh, cry, and so on. In the real world, I hate this. In normal movies I hate this too. But, here, every actions of the two little girls touch us deep in our heart. We learn to love children's world.

Every one of us will have a smile on this face, from the beginning to the end of this movie.

My favorite scene is the first encounter between Mei and Totoro. It's fun, poetic, and charming. Miyazaki succeeds to make a movie enjoyable for the very little kids (4 y.o.) and for the adult audience. It's very rare to succeed doing that !

Really, a masterpiece !

10/10 !
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10/10
The kind of film that stays with you afterwards...
billf713 February 2005
I first watched this film in Japanese with a 12 year old translating for me and I still thought it was incredible. There are so many wonderful touches, like a tin can in the stream while the kids are fascinated by a fish, or the flying scenes (I'm convinced that Ang Lee thought of Miyazaki when he made The Hulk, just in terms of the jumping scenes) that show a curious mind at work throughout the picture. I also love the sense of magic and innocence (and the lack of violence) which pervades the movie. It is a real antidote from the Disney formula which always involves a villain being trashed at the end. This is a film about the wonder of being a child and experiencing something incredible which adults can't see but recognize nonetheless. It works for any age as well. Enjoy.
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10/10
This is a great film!
Baccchewa1 January 2005
There is no compulsory villain in this wonderfully animated film, no moral lessons, no standard blue print story, and the characters will definitely not break out in a song. Thank God! It's simply a great film for all ages. Don't mind if the soundtrack isn't dubbed to your native language, my kids (4 and 6 years old) could easily follow the story with just a few helpers. Japanese is a wonderful language. The film has great direction, beautiful backgrounds and a mystical, pleasant aura throughout. There's nothing like this, I promise you. It's idyllic, for the most part, but still with an exciting story that unfolds into something very unexpected.
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10/10
A delightful, touching, timeless classic!
EarthwormJimFan20 February 2005
From the brilliant "Walt Disney of Japan", Hayao Miyazaki, comes a wonderful soothing film that everyone will simply embrace. Featuring stunning animation, endearing personable characters, and a heart-tugging storyline that's simple, enchanting, and even dramatic.

Sometimes you feel like you're not watching an animated children's movie, because the characters (particularly the children) and the storyline seem so realistic. There's no bad guy, no song numbers, and no references to pop-culture. Most cartoons (especially Disney) feature these and it gets old and routine. Here we have a break from all of that and get a real masterpiece.

Miraculously, Totoro doesn't talk, and yet you can still understand what the lovable furry creature is thinking with his endearing actions. And the six-legged CatBus is undeniably one of the most imaginative characters in animation history. And the human characters are also remarkable. Mei and Satsuki act like little girls, not like kids who are smarter than adults (a routine toons today are guilty of).

I loved Totoro when I was a small child and I always will. When I have children of my own someday, I will show them Totoro instead of toy commercials like Dora and Elmo's world.

BOTTOM LINE: A masterpiece... pure and simple.
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10/10
Wonderfully Magical!
marka_dogg15 September 2005
Like all Miyazaki films, this one is absolutely sacred. Some parts are reminiscent of Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away (and Alice in Wonderland by extension), but Totoro stands out as probably the most unique of them all.

The premise is nice and simple, which works brilliantly because the plot is established as a foundation without hindering the experience of the movie itself. The viewer is allowed unrestricted access and exploration of the messages offered by the film.

In addition, Totoro is not bound by any rules of traditional storytelling. Instead, it presents occurrences that touch on a fundamental human level that is so deep and profound that it will have you feeling a range of emotions. There are so many layers to this movie, each one meaningful and special. From community building to the love of a family to sibling relationships to facing the unknown; everyone can take away something personal from this movie.

Perhaps the most sacred aspect of the film, however, is that it reminds us that life is magical. Not all of us have a neighbor like Totoro, but we are all fortunate in different ways. Each of us has something to treasure, something that brings joy and comfort.

Totoro is special in that it frees the viewer to be a child again and to contemplate the world through a perspective that we have perhaps forgotten. Everything is new and interesting and beautiful, from a crumbling porch to an acorn seed. We live in a magical world, and it is definitely worth taking the time to appreciate this.
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10/10
This is the movie I watch to restore my faith in humanity
burgan620329 September 2004
I first saw "My Neighbor Totoro" when I was maybe seven.At the time, I thought that it was really boring(that was still when I liked Disney movies). Years later, when I discovered "Princess Mononoke" I learned that MNT was by the same director and watched it again. And I find that I appreciate this film a whole lot more now then I did when I was seven.

The animation is absolutely stunning(as with all Miyazaki films)and the story is deceptively simple, told with patient, subtle attention to detail. The best example IMO is the scene where Mei falls asleep on Totoro's stomach.It's fruitless to try and describe it;you have to see it for yourself.

In closing, I would just like to say that I can't wait for a decent DVD to arrive so I can view this quiet masterpiece in widescreen in Japanese with subtitles.
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9/10
Totoro is a Winner
Andrzej Banas5 April 2005
Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro is a film that should be able to put a smile on any viewers face, and without a doubt, it'll take you on one of the most whimsical and fantastic journey's ever.

My Neighbor Totoro is a story that definitely something children can relate with, as i watched this with someone, they immediately paused the film and asked if this reminded me of being 4 years old again. This film really connects with people. But it's far from a quality nostalgia piece, it's well animated, beautiful, avoids cliché stereotypes (from both typical of the Anime genre and Children's Fantasy films), and is beautifully filmed (see scenes such as the girls waiting for the bus with Totoro and the scene where the magic nuts and seeds grow with the help of Totoro).

Even the English dub done by Fox isn't as bad everyone states. I've seen the Japanese version, and i'd have to say it's a mixed-bag between having Mei's voice sounds a bit too bratty for the English version, or having the Father's voice sound a bit awkward and perhaps not as caring in the Japanese version. Disney is said to be releasing a re-dub in mid-to-late 2005, so perhaps that will even out the controversy.

This film may not reach the heights of other Anime classics (mainly it's double bill with Grave of the Fireflies, or Miyazaki's other masterpieces Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away), however this will definitely be high on any film lovers list, and is definitely a high water mark of it's genre.

A solid 9/10, This film is next to impossible to watch without it pushing a smile out of your face.
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6/10
Where's the rest of it?
Shawn Watson29 December 2015
It pains me to give it an average rating, but the fact that I wanted more of it proves that I was enjoying what we got before it came to an abrupt end. I was certain that I had accidentally hit the chapter skip button my remote, but nope, I did indeed watch the whole movie.

It's summer 1955 and very cute and curious 4-year-old Mei and her sister Satsuki move out into the country with their dad while their mother is in hospital. The creaky, dusty old house that they move into appears to be hot spot for forest spirits and magical creatures. As with all Hayao Miyazaki movies there is a heavy theme of nature being beautiful and the Earth being precious but where is the story?

Mei soon meets "Totoro" a giant cat/rabbit thing, who does...pretty much nothing. Totoro is barely IN the movie. I've seen pictures of him for years, I even carry around a Totoro satchel at work. I assumed that the movie would be filled with their wondrous discoveries, summertime adventures, and, y'know, some kind of PLOT! But nope. He's barely in it. Seriously, where is the rest of this film? I assume all those picture I saw were merely fan art and not stills from the actual film.

At one point Mei runs off to find her mother but gets lost on her way to the hospital. Satsuki enlists Totoro to help her and he summons the Catbus to locate Mei and take them both to the hospital and the film ends there. That's it! My jaw was on the floor when the credits began to roll, and not in a good way.

The animation is simply beautiful and is the perfect antidote to the ostentatious horror of modern CGI animated movies, the kids are cute, and Totoro (all 2 minutes he has on screen) is one of the most huggable characters ever created, but I am sorry I have to rate this on the lower rung of Miyazaki movies. There should have been more to this.
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10/10
Rare Classic
LaserBears17 August 2007
I watched this movie when I was a kid, and while it never caught my attention as I do other commercial movies, I think it had a quiet and subtle effect on me over the years. Sometimes I think about that film, but I never knew why. So, after watching it again as an adult I realized why this movie stay within me: Totoro is a rare film that manages to capture the essence of a child's emotions and vision without being filtered through the adult's tendency to editorialize it, to insert a moral judgment, or to sugar coat it. Mei's behavior is naked, showing raw happiness as well as anger. Her movements are strong and her voice fierce, she thinks she lives in a world without limitations and not binded by adult's notion of etiquette. Satsuki is at a crossroads between adulthood and what remains of her innocence, we see her anxieties and we identify the world of the movie through her eyes. Totoro's physical characteristic is actually menacing and otherworldly, and our first impression of him (through the girls' eyes) is a natural mix of fear and amazement... the same reaction any human would have when confronting something foreign. But then something magical happens: Totoro moves and behaves just like Mei. We identify with this raw, pure energy of joy and imagination. That Studio Ghibli managed to express this idea visually, through character design, storytelling, and animation, is a rare and special accomplishment. This effect cannot be described during a script meeting with a committee of marketing execs.

A typical American studio would be worried about presenting its main character as frightening, would redesign Totoro as a "cuter" character as a safe strategy, and would certainly make the father more of a one-dimensional, stereotypical "adult" character for dramatic purposes.

But in this movie, we see the background story of the characters by deceptively simple closeup shot of the pebbles in the stream, or the details of the bathtub.

But the most telling moment of the movie is actually early on: when the girls tried to push down the rotting wooden support of the house. At first only playing around, they then gave a serious effort to try to bring it down. But it doesn't fall. Seeing that the support stays, they simply move on. That establishes the tone and the world they inhabit: Life is unpredictable. Adults must learn to expect the worst to happen in order to deal daily with the real world. But the child has not yet fully learned this skill, so through their eyes, we see what we were, and what was important to us, long buried but not forgotten.

Kids should see this movie as an alternative to the shallow mainstream entertainment. Whether they like it or not is irrelevant; its lasting impact is worth more that the toy of the month. Adults should see this movie to re-look at themselves and what they were, who they are now, and what they want to become. It doesn't preach anything, it's a simple story that you will enjoy when you can stop and have time for yourself and for the people you care about.
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9/10
A superb, uncynical journey into the imagination. Not so great dubbing, though.
Jeremy Bristol31 May 2001
This movie, set in Japan in the early fifties, is director Miyazaki's tribute to his mother (who suffered from tuberculosis, just like Satsuki and Mei's mother), his childhood home, and childhood innocence. Although some people who watch this movie wonder where the Americans are (this is post-WWII Japan, after all) and why so little screen time is spent on the girls' mother, but that may be partly due to the dubbing.

Americans: First of all, the house the girls move into is rather European in design (with doorknobs, and an attic, and a front porch) despite the Japanese style bath and occasional sliding door. Secondly, Mei and Satsuki are really into Western fairy tales (the are brief glimpses of Japanese translations of The Three Billy Goats Gruff and other stories, along with Mei inadvertently re-enacting scenes from Alice in Wonderland and Chronicles of Narnia). On top of that, according to Helen McCarthy and other Miyazaki experts, the name "Totoro" is little Mei's mispronunciation of the Japanese transliteration of the English word "troll" ("tororo," which the Japanese would pronounce like "tololo" because they do not distinguish between r's and l's). This is why an accurate dubbed version is nearly impossible (like any little girl, Mei mispronounces a lot of words).

The Mother: I think this movie is entirely about the mother. Throughout, you see them subtly (almost too subtly at times) change from completely carefree to terrified with each scene involving the mother. This parallels Satsuki's coming of age subplot (she's ten and like anyone that age she is self-conscious about believing in Santa, or in this case Totoro). There's a little bit of both in the culturally-shocking--though completely innocent--bath scene (both girls take a bath with their father during a wind storm).

Really, though, My Neighbor Totoro is less about story than it is about the imagination of children.

Although the animation is a little dated and a bit jerky at times, the direction is absolutely top notch. There is enough visual creativity to rival an average Hitchcock film (Miyazaki's a huge fan of Hitch: check out the long wait at the bus stop, which is reminiscent of North by Northwest). Highlights include a Mary Poppins-esque ride on an Oriental top, a beautifully animated storm, Mei's nap on the slowly rising and falling chest of the giant totoro, and a cat-bus complete with headlight eyes.
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This movie is incredibly cute
CyberK8223 September 2004
I'm a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki's work and was rather disappointed that this movie did not have the Japanese language/English subtitles option. But, I've finally seen it and must admit that it is incredibly cute. One does NOT have to be a child to enjoy this movie or any of Miyazaki's movies. The story line was good and and the characters were really touching. The totoros were so adorable that I want a plushie of one. I also loved the artwork. I finally know what some of the scenes are from in the AMVs that I've seen. I would definitely recommend this to families as well as to those who are Miyazaki fans. A definite thumbs up. Though I do wonder where Miyazaki gets some of the ideas for his characters such as that cat bus.
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10/10
Another miracle from Hayao Miyazaki
Galina15 October 2007
I absolutely agree with Roger Ebert who called "My Neighbor Totoro", "One of the most beloved of all family films". Its colorfully bright and sparkling animation is enchanting. It is incredibly realistic and at the same time makes us along with two main characters, the young sisters ready for a miracle to happen any minute. The gentle story is touching, uplifting, funny, and tender without being overly sentimental or didactic. The film takes place in the early 50s, when 10-year-old Satsuki and her baby sister, curious and energetic 4-year-old Mei spend one summer in an old house in the country side with their University professor father while their mother recovers from a serious illness in the nearby hospital. The great master Hayao Miyazaki remembers well what it is like to be a child, to see magic in the everyday life and be always ready to encounter it. This ability usually disappears as the child becomes adult but it stays forever in a few chosen, and they become the visionary Artists - just like Miyazaki himself. The film is partially autobiographical for the writer/director/storyboard artist. "When Miyazaki and his brothers were children, his mother suffered from spinal tuberculosis for nine years, and spent much of her time hospitalized. It is implied, yet never revealed in the film, that Satsuki and Mei's mother also suffers from tuberculosis. He once said the film would have been too painful for him to make if the two protagonists were boys instead of girls." (From the IMDb film trivia)

Totoro of the title is an adorable funny blue forest spirit who lives in the nest beneath a huge tree and makes the trees grow and the winds blow. Totoro becomes the friend and protector of the sisters and one day he sends them on the bus journey that is like nothing they and the viewers could ever imagine. I wish I could ride that cat bus. What a wild and kind imagination an artist should have to create it. How much happier we all are knowing that Hayao Miyazaki exists and makes his amazing films at the Studio Ghibli for which King Totoro is the mascot.
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10/10
Delightful Children's movie
zorrothefox12 January 2006
What can I say ? It's a really endearing movie, and even though it's a children's movie, I found myself captivated. The story is about two children, who move to the village with their father. They come into contact with various lovable spirits/ghosts.

Before watching various Miyazaki movies, my view of Japanese animation was that it was mostly full of violent animated serials, with a smear of science fiction. Seen them one, seen them all. I know that most people love to watch these type of animations. But I've never really been a big fan of these. One exception being "Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within".

I watched this movie, because it was directed by Hayao Miyazaki. I had already seen "Sen to Chihiro No Kamikakushi" and " Neko No Ongaeshi" (thanks to these being rated in the top 250 on IMDb) and found it to be a wonderful movie. The same applies to this movie.

The animation is stunning, even though it was done in 1988. I guess that's because since the entire animation is hand drawn, it doesn't get much better than this.

The story is captivating, and keeps one wondering as to what will happen. I have a 2 year old niece, and when I watched the children in this movie, I was constantly thinking of how well the director has gotten into the skin of children. Their various facial expressions, cries and antics are uncanny. Many of the scenes are just magical, and I was really amazed at the creative imagination of the director and animators. Even the title song is very hummable.

After watching these movies, I have now realized that the best Japanese animation is not the type that is shown on "Cartoon Network".

A must-watch movie for all children, and adults too!
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10/10
The most charming film I have EVER seen!
zh8416 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film is intended for small children, so Miyazaki says. I was thirty-six when I watched it. I was so charmed that I showed it again to my father, who was then seventy-seven. He was so charmed that he insisted we must show it to his grandson, who is four. I have seen more exciting films, or funnier films, but none which gave me more sheer delight. It is a great shame the world isn't really as nice as this, but when you are four, like Mei, or even eleven, like Satsuki, this is how you want it to be: everyone bigger is kind and can be trusted completely, and everything always comes right in the end. Knowing a little boy of Mei's age I can vouch for her being highly realistic, from the obsessive looking through a hole in a bucket to the scowling and sulking! The most touching moment is when Catbus' destination board changes to "MEI", showing Satsuki that he knows exactly where her little sister is, and that he's going to take her straight there. My only criticisms, if you can call them that, are that the DVD doesn't contain the legendary sequel "Mei and the Kittenbus", in which Mei meets and goes for a ride with Catbus's little son, and that I can't ride in Catbus myself. As a cat lover and occasional bus user I feel I was born to do that, and it's a disgrace he's only imaginary!
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10/10
A wonderful Miyazaki masterpiece in either version.
JTurner827 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
What more can be said about MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO? Get this movie. Immediately. Without a doubt one of the best animated features ever made, Japan or otherwise, TOTORO is an outstanding original creation from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. It's about two sisters -- Satsuki and spunky little Mei -- moving with their somewhat scatterbrained but loving father to a new home in the Japanese countryside. But the place isn't just deserted; wonders galore lie within their household. Tiny, fuzzy black balls of soot ("Soot Gremlins") scatter every nook and cranny of the walls, frightened away only by laughter. A tall, luscious camphor tree towers above the other trees in the back yard. And, lastly, the Totoros themselves, absolutely adorable little creatures who look like a cross between a raccoon, rabbit, owl, and guinea pig (a personal bias here, since I owned such a pet who reminds me so much of the Totoros here), live in this very forest, carrying acorns, making huge trees grow at night, and playing ocarinas on the branches of the trees. There is even one really BIG Totoro who sleeps under the tree, so cuddlesome and gentle that you'll swear that he's the equivalent of your pet. Of course, he doesn't just allow Mei to snuggle on his chest. He lets out thunderous roars, shake the ground by jumping with full force, grins as wide as a Cheshire cat (albeit with warmth and generosity), helps others when they're in trouble, and gives acorns wrapped in bamboo leaves in return for gifts. The story isn't all hearts and flowers, however. An emotionally charged subplot involving the sisters' ailing mother (shades of Miyazaki's personal life here) gives TOTORO a dramatic edge. This is particularly evident in the third act, when the girls receive a distressing telegram about their mother. Both Satsuki and Mei are extremely traumatized by this as any real child would be if such a situation occurred in their lifetime. What follows is a tearjerking sequence that builds to a truly happy ending. This mixture of real-life situations, emotions, and magical discoveries found in your nearest back yard make TOTORO feel authentic (even with its fantasy elements). One cannot help but find this quality in any of Miyazaki's films, this one included.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO was not a box office success in either Japan or America, but the film has won over millions of children around the world as well as animation buffs for its gorgeous animation style; the backgrounds are lavishly detailed and imagination is galore in much of the sequences. (It was KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE that would catapult Miyazaki's animation company, Studio Ghibli, into box office success status.)

The movie was originally dubbed into English by Carl Macek and his infamous company, Streamline Pictures in 1993. Believe it or not, this was one of the "best" dubs they've ever produced. As Disney has acquired the rights for Ghibli's movies, though, it was inevitable that they would produce their own version. This has infuriated many, but as someone who fell in love with TOTORO with the Mecak version, I have to say that this new Disney production offers charm and emotion on its own ground. The script is a fresh new translation from the original Japanese (clarifying the origin of Totoro's name), and remains faithful to the meaning of Miyazaki's screenplay, despite a few line changes here and there (nothing major, though). At first, I was a little worried about hearing Dakota and Elle Fanning as Satsuki and Mei, but both ended up captivating me from the start; personally, I think it was great for Disney to cast two actual sisters to play the young girls--it helps their chemistry come alive. The other actors, including a warm, understated Tim Daly, and delightful Lea Salonga provide similarly top quality work. My favorite performances? Pat Carroll, displaying maternal charm and whimsy as Granny (not sounding anything like her most-famous role, Ursula from THE LITTLE MERMAID), and Frank Welker, who does outstanding vocal foley for both Totoro and the Cat Bus. The OP and ED songs have the same lyrics, but are sung by a different singer (Sonya Isaacs), who may please some and annoy others. I'm sure that there will be many who will draw comparisons between the two dubs to the very bitter end, but I think it's great to have more than one adaptation of a beloved story, especially when done by folks who obviously love Miyazaki's works.

As far as the long awaited 2-DVD set from Disney goes, the widescreen visual transfer is absolutely gorgeous--Miyazaki's visuals really shine with pristine clarity on the screen, and the Japanese language track features literal subtitles, too. The extras are the same-old voice talent featurette, storyboards, and trailer we saw on most of the other Disney-Ghibli DVDs, which is sparse to say the least, but better than nothing.

Folks who want the old dub will obviously flock to the FOX pan & scan DVD, but personally, I'd suggest getting both the FOX and Disney releases--the former for nostalgia, the latter for a more professional sounding upgrade. Either way, however, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is far from just another kid's story. With a little bit of luck, grown-ups (and those who consider themselves too "sophisticated" for cartoons) will enjoy it too.
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10/10
Another Stunning Work from Hayao Miyazaki
gracegibson4 June 2005
I first saw this movie when I was very, very young. I loved it then and I love it now. It is like a beautiful painting. The visuals are fantastic, the plot charming, and the "totoros" are adorable (not to mention Mei). Miyazaki has refused to follow in the footsteps of other Japanese film-makers and do those awful anime movies that are, unfortunately, popular among many of my friends. Instead, he has made animated films that look and are captivating. I love how he did the fantasy element in this movie, with the totoros flying and doing magical wonders and Satsuki and Mei looking like they're having the time of their life. My favorite part is when Satsuki and Mei sneak outside to see the totoros and they make the trees grow (and their father has no clue!). The enchanting music during that part was what made it memorable. A must-see for all little kids.
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An insightful and imaginative film that was incredibly cute
teenage_queen1914 May 2005
After watching this film i was so overwhelmed by happiness and i just marvelled at the cuteness of it all. Totoro is beautifully drawn timeless touching, adorable film which will just enlighten you, regardless of age. I've seen this movie around, say, 8 times? I've watched it every year since i was 4 and it's the kind of movie that just puts this massive smile on your face.

The protagonists are sisters Satsuki and Mei. They have just moved from the city with their father into the countryside while he writes a book and their mother is suffering from an unknown disease in a hospital nearby. The girls explore the surrounding wilderness and have an encounter with Totoro, a cuddly, cute, fat, imaginary forest 'spirit'. Totoro can only be seen by the girls and even then, only occasionally. The movie does not have an ongoing perpetual plot but it doesn't need to. Its an endearing story about a few months in the life of two young sisters. There is no clear villain the the film. The dad is not an uncaring workaholic, the mean kid next door isn't really that bad, and the somewhat scary old neighbor is kind and wise. Everyone has their good and bad points and Hayao miyazaki does a great job of showing them.

Though the movie is about the imagination of little kids, it has this incredible sense of reality. The little 4 year old is cute but loud and demanding like all young children. Satsuki, the elder sister, is protective over her little sister and a bit bossy. There is a scene of a boy playing with a toy trying to avoid a chore. Despite the fact that it is such a calm movie, when a crisis occurs, you're at the edge of the seat, worrying, because the movie, unlike most animated films, it luckily lacks that element of "There's Always going to be a Happy Ending" The drawing is great. Its so natural and there are these scenes of wonderful sereneness. It's just so pleasant to watch. I just hate kids, but every single time after watching this movie, I just feel like hugging every little girl I see. I think it is impossible for anyone not to like Totoro because it is just this incredible masterpiece that erases any doubt in mankind. I can't come close to putting the wonders of this movie in words, and all i have to say is watch it!
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10/10
Essential Viewing
rsa538717 August 2008
I was initially skeptical on the quality of this one, but surprisingly this film was both engaging and beautiful from start to finish. Loosely based on Miyazakis own childhood, My Neighbor Totoro is a simplistic story with a kind of charm, depth, and broad appeal that makes it irresistible. When two girls move to a new farmhouse to be closer to their ailing mother, they have to deal with some of life's more eccentric experiences, that of impending death and incredible magic. At its heart, its about the uninhibited curiosity of childhood, and the innocence in accepting everything without question, to such an extent that magic is a very real reality. The otherworldly in this film, comes in the form of Totoro, an animal spirit who is the guardian of the forest near the girls home. Overall, this film is absolutely spectacular. Kids will love it, though some of the deeper meaning will be lost on them. Adults will also love it, as a nostalgic ride through childhood and for some of the more profound themes running throughout the film. Technically, though made in 1988, the animation in this film looks every bit as stunning today. Totoros forest and the many quiet landscape shots are absolutely gorgeous. Disney, eat your heart out. The film is paced slow, letting the film unfurl at a relaxing pace through its scant 86 minute runtime. The lethargic pace, along with Miyazakis expressive camera pans and attention to detail lend the girls discovery of their home/the forest, the famous cat bus scene, and every moment with Totoro a very 360 degree, hypnotic feel. The new English dub is well done without losing much in translation, retaining the witty and lighthearted exchanges from the original. Overall, this films serves as a great introduction into the world of Miyazaki, and remains a timeless classic in its own right. Miyazakis most lighthearted venture also remains his most introspective and grounded work. Even without the whimsicality of Spirited Away and Kikis Delivery Service, this is by far his most engaging and charming film. Essential viewing.
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9/10
Introduction to one of the greatest storytellers
esbenpe9 March 2007
After seeing both Chihiro (2001) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004), I instantly became a Miyazaki fan. I am especially fascinated by the mix of western and non-western mythological worlds, in which the different characters are developed. As a fan, it is IMO a must to see all of his films.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) is one of his most beautiful and charming works, and I recommend this particular piece to first-time Miyazaki-viewers as an introduction to one of the greatest storytellers in the history of cinema.

While this story is simple and not as wildly imaginative as some of Miyazaki's recent works, the storyline has a slightly more emotional touch.

The story is about two sisters who are moving to the country side with their father – the mother being permanently in the hospital. The story takes off, when the youngest girl unintentionally falls down into a deep ravine and finds the protector of the forest - Totoro. Together with this wonderfully, flighty and friendly forest creature, the children experience one of the most fantastical journeys, physical as well mental.

If you have watched Miyazaki's latest productions you will know that his universe - social deliberated, humorous and ecological - appeals to children and adults alike. This is also most certainly the case with My Neighbor Totoro.

I give this movie 9/10, as it is one of the best family films ever made.
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10/10
A wonderful movie!
WolfHai6 April 2008
The movie is from Japan and it is 20 years old -- it feels fresh as if done yesterday and there is no cultural barrier whatsoever. The drawings of the landscape are fantastic and are alone worth watching this movie: the reflection of the sun on the leaves of the trees, the reflection of the sky in the rice paddies, the high summer clouds, the flowers detailed and colorful.

Two girls, maybe four and ten, move with their father into their new house in this landscape. How they discover, befriend, and master their new environment is shown in a detailed, loving, but not sentimental way. Watching these girls create their own adventures and act and react in them, is delightful. Even more, they reveal something deeply human; and the audience can rediscover its own humanness by watching and identifying with them.
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10/10
A Nutshell Review: (DVD) My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
DICK STEEL10 June 2007
I have never sat through a complete Hayao Miyazaki animated movie despite all the good vibes, reviews, recommendations I got from friends. Actually I have Spirited Away on DVD just waiting to be watched, but for some reason it still sits on my desk amongst others. Well, a good friend from up north passed me THREE Miyazaki DVDs, and given I'm going to where he is tomorrow visiting someone who mentioned during a visit to the previous movie set, how the scene was reminiscent of My Neighbor Totoro, I thought I'll pop that DVD and give it a watch.

I was blown away. This IS animation, with a story suitable for kids to understand, and for adults to get a kick out of given its fantastical pieces. I shan't spoil the movie by spelling out the storyline, but suffice to say it centers very simply on a family, the father a professor who has recently uprooted his family of two girls, Satsuki and Mai, to the countryside, to provide a healthier environment for their ailing mom, currently in the hospital, to recuperate in. Thus begins the children's adventures in the country, with its lush greenery, and of course, with their new found friend, a giant ghibil known as Totoro, with seemingly magical powers of flight and fantasy.

And it is in its simplicity where its beauty shines through. It is always said that children can see things that adults don't, and hence, there's a constant question as to whether Totoro is real, or not, and if so, how its interactions with the kids are possible. It's not just Totoro itself which is out of this world, but I totally like that grinning cat-bus.

This is the kind of animated movie that our local animation production houses should be looking at. First and foremost, the story. While it doesn't contain huge battle sequences, complex or multiple characters for the sake of stuffing the movie, it goes to show that the story matters, in its ability to touch and resonate with audiences young and old (while the young ones go to the cinemas, don't forget the adults have to bring them too, and somehow you have to entertain them as well without being too complex for the little ones to understand).

The character designs are also kept simple, but nonetheless effective. The animation here is top notch despite it being 2D, as are the cast who voiced the characters. The acid test here is whether the movie can stand the test of time, and watching it close to 20 years after it was made, the answer is a resounding yes, it passed with flying colours. There are plenty of moments where you go "so cute!" without it being saccharine, or trying too hard, and that is indeed remarkable. Characterization is superb, especially Mai, whom I think everyone who has a kid sister, would be able to relate to. That's how realistic I thought she was!

Everything in this movie works well together, like a fine orchestra performing its pieces with precision yet with lots of heart. I do feel compelled to pop in and watch all the other Hayao Miyazaki DVDs I have in my collection, but I have to travel tomorrow and be away the next few days. You can be sure however, I will be back and complete watching them all real soon!

I like Tonari no Totoro, certainly one of the best movies I've seen!
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8/10
A remarkably enjoyable film
refresh daemon15 November 2006
I keep watching Studio Ghibli films like this one expecting that in all the films that they've made, there's got to be one that just doesn't hold up. Well, My Neighbor Totoro isn't that one.

This is a beautiful and exuberant story story about a pair of kids that move into the country with their father and meet some of the less visible residents, including some lively dustbunnies and the giant Totoro. Although this could just be a story about kids meeting the magical residents of their rural community, the story deals a lot with the relationship between the two young sisters and their parents as well.

One thing that's absolutely charming about this film is the realness of the relationship between the sisters, with the younger Mei commonly copying her older sister Satsuki, getting upset and bratty and unreasonable in addition to being ridiculously cute at times, while Satsuki gets worried and dutiful. It makes some interesting observations about different family roles and I found myself surprised at how it made me re-examine my role in my family.

I wouldn't say it's a remarkably deep film, but the little observations that it makes causes it to be a lot more than just simple children's entertainment. The characters are complex and multi-faceted and surprisingly real for animated images.

The voice acting in English is decent, but still doesn't fully connect with the Japanese dressing. Hearing a "Yes!" in English just doesn't have the same sort of exuberance that the Japanese kid shouting "Hai!" has. But it's good enough that the dubbed soundtrack won't be distracting.

All in all, I have to say this is a remarkably enjoyable film and wonderful for children and the older folks that watch with them. (As well as the child in you.) 8/10.
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9/10
A beautiful work of art for young and old
karora23 July 2004
I took my six-year-old son to see "My Neighbour Totoro" at a film festival recently and about halfway through he loudly announced to the full house that "This is a GREAT movie". A somewhat embarrassing moment for me, but I think few of the 500-odd crowd would have disagreed.

It must surely rate somewhere at the apex of the cartoonist's art. The scenes are magnificently detailed, and the action portrays real humans of the kind we all know and love, seamlessly moving into the fantastic realms that we would all _like_ to know and love.

Aside from the beautiful artwork, the music supports the action all the way through, and there are several good stories woven into the movie as well.

The copy I saw was subtitled in excellent English and some of the younger audience may have trouble with that, although they would probably still find the movie very enjoyable.
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10/10
Magical film for young and old!
Mel J22 January 2004
Hands down, 'My Neighbour Totoro' is far superior to any film ever produced by Disney and that's including my personal favourites 'The Lion King' and 'Hercules'.

It revolves around two young girls Satsuki (aged around eight) and Mei (aged around three) who move to a new house while also coping with their mother's illness in the resilient, sweet way young children have in dealing with problems. They then discover these furry totoro creatures only ever seen by children and through their new friends, they are able to face their fears.

You can actually feel the magic when you watch this. The totoros are adorable and their haunting silence only intensifies their beauty and the two children are so innocent and captivating that you completely empathise with their delight at meeting these fabled creatures.

Although I watched it a few times when I was around 12, I rediscovered this in Disney Land (Disney own the rights now) and walked from the Britain exhibit in EPCOT back to Japan to buy the cuddly Totoro toy which is now my most prized possession from that Florida holiday. At the moment, this excellent film is not on DVD in Britain for some criminal reason, I hope now that Disney own it they will release it soon enough. I would certainly reccommend it to anyone of any age.
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