What is it with Studio Ghibli and being able to create animated films that just don’t age?! My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 anime about two girls who move to the country with their father to be nearer their ailing mother’s hospital. When playing in the garden they meet Totoro and during their time there they have lots of adventures with the wondrous spirits of the forest who live nearby.
My Neighbor Totoro is great fun and easy to watch with a sense of childhood innocence that makes it perfect for all the family. It’s stunning to look at and Totoro and the other forest spirits are adorable. There’s something quite magical about anime films and this one is certainly a good example. Funny, cute and harmless My Neighbor Totoro is light hearted animated entertainment at its most beautiful.
Totoro has become a pop culture icon and is very popular with Western audiences, it’s one of those films that is impossible to hate while many anime films tread carefully on that ‘Marmite’ line that inevitably means some people hate them. It would be difficult if not impossible to dislike My Neighbor Totoro with its harmless beauty and adorable characters. The story is heartwarming and at times very sad, with two little girls desperate to be with their mother again and unsure whether she will ever come out of hospital. It has one of those relatable stories that gives it a depth that at times threatens to bring tears to your eyes.
Like with many anime films My Neighbor Totoro is very weird, but no more so than various Disney and Dreamworks films about talking animals and toys that move on their own. It’s quite a tame anime that highlights the timeless beauty of Studio Ghibli’s films and is one of the more accessible anime films for Western audiences both in terms of availability and its themes.
Whether it’s the translation from Japanese to English or just the script itself is hard to tell, but at times the script is questionable. Although this is the case with a lot of older animated films, the script is abrasive at times with some sentences and phrases that don’t sound at all authentic for the characters. This is inevitable when it comes to translating a film from Japanese to English as the cultures are so different, and it doesn’t particularly detract from the film at all, however at times it is very noticeable.
My Neighbor Totoro is as beautiful as it is adorable. It’s great family friendly fun and is a harmless and entertaining anime.