Studio Ghibli Challenge #4: My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Anime Movie Review
I am pretty sure that when you go to an anime toy shop to look for plushies you would stumble upon Totoro which comes in different sizes. That itself truly signifies the legend the film My Neighbor Totoro brings to the audience even after more than 20 years since it first aired.
This movie is about how joyful it was to live in a rural place and how the environment reacts when there are sudden changes happened. Such as when 2 young sisters, Satsuki and Mei together with their father decided to move into an old house to be closer to their mother who is recuperating in the hospital. It didn't take a while before Mei, the younger one realizes that there are spirits living among them. Instead of getting scared, she is more curious about them and as she followed 2 spirits dwelling in a nearby camphor tree, she stumbled upon Totoro, a large bunny-like spirit who is friendlier than in its initial appearance.
How fun it is to be a kid again, exploring stuff, getting curious about something, and just enjoying the environment without a care in the world. For me, that is what Mei and Satsuki symbolize. It is about being free and just appreciating what nature can offer. Just like typical children, they are learning, they commit mistakes unknowingly and sometimes commit selfish decisions. Their father also is a good character because even though he gets caught in the foolishness of his two daughters he still kept his composure and sometimes plays along.
This movie is definitely unlike Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind or Grave of the Fireflies because it just focuses on a small setting but still fills it with wild adventures. It is a breath of fresh air if you decide to watch this after Grave of the Fireflies, but still, respect both movies even though they are worlds apart in terms of their story and plot. It has also better animation now than the previous but still, it doesn't compare to today's level. But really, who cares about animation when you are just having fun with the story?
However, it still has that rich story that you know will age very well. You can easily relate to the characters no matter what age group you belong to. This movie is definitely for everyone.
The music used was composed by Joe Hisashi whom Miyazaki worked during his previous two films and is still on point in delivering quality soundtracks that deeply resonate with the film's emotions. Plus to top it all off the credits soundtrack is definitely something you will remember with the soft melody and a few words saying the name "Totoro, Totoro" is really wonderful.
Fun fact, this movie at the time it was released was an absolute blockbuster hit. However, if it will be released today, will this film still break box office records? I think yes and no. It will still be popular, especially since the target audiences will be children and young adults but maybe some will decline to watch due to its animation quality. But nevertheless, my opinion is that whoever forgets to watch this movie is missing a huge chunk of this legendary classic.
Big credit to Hayao Miyazaki because his work really shows how passionate he is. And My Neighbor Totoro is just one example. He really uses his imagination really well to convey to us what we look forward to in his creations.
So if you own a Totoro doll and don't know where it came from, rest assured, because it was designed by a legend and will always be legendary even for many years to come.