Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbour Totoro)

My Neighbour Totoro DVD Cover

My Neighbour Totoro is ranked 247 in the 2010 IMDb Top 250 Challenge.

My Neighbour Totoro is a Japanese children’s film from Studio Ghibli, a studio famous for films such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away (both of which also feature on the Top 250). It follows the story of two children, Satsuki and Mei, who move with their father to a new home in the countryside to be closer to their mother, who is in hospital with an unnamed condition and meet the friendly spirits of the forest, the Totoro.

The appeal and originality of the movie comes from the fact that this film features no conflict, anger or threat while not going down the sterile, PC, modern children’s story route. The bulk of the film simply follows the two girls exploring and playing in their new home and surroundings, which sounds boring but is anything but- the key to this being that the animation work retains the charm and magic of being a kid again. It’s hard to put down in words, but I – a grown, cynical Brit – was smiling from cheek to cheek all of the way through.

Special mention has to be given to the animation which is simply beautiful. It’s not an orgy of colour or gimicks, but a magical rendition of rural Japanese life. Highlights include Mei stroking Totoro for the first time: although this is a cartoon you do get the sensation of someone actually stroking a bear-sized furry animal (not that I’ve stroked any bears lately) and the watercolour-eque backgrounds.

A joy to watch, for adults and children alike.


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