The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

My Neighbor Totoro

Title: My Neighbor Totoro aka Tonari no Totoro
Company: Studio Ghibli
Genre: Drama
Format: Movie; 86 minutes.
Dates: 16 Apr 1988

Synopsis: Sisters Satsuki and Mei have just completed moving to a new house with their father. Their mother, however, is in a nearby hospital sick. Soon after moving in, Mei stumbles across an unusual neighbor, a totoro– a furry raccoon-ish spirit. There are more and they pique the imaginations of the entire Kusakabe family with their odd characteristics.

The Highlights
Visuals: Reminiscent of earlier Ghibli works.
Story: Enchanting.
Music: Wonderful.
Characters: Charming.
Pacing: Inconsistently drags and speeds up.

After Castle in the Sky came this film, My Neighbor Totoro. In contrast to the very dramatic Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro is an enchanting and heartwarming whimsical tale.

My Neighbor Totoro was Miyazaki Hayao’s second film since Studio Ghibli’s birth. This was by no means of lesser quality. With designs quite reminiscent of Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro manages to effectively pull off visual excellence. This visual excellence creates a feast for the senses. The music only adds to the experience: Hisaishi Jo provides a wonderful score with a magical quality.

The characters in Totoro were absolutely charming, as well as quite real. From Satsuki’s sisterly characteristics to Kanta’s boyish characteristic of hidden affection and Mei’s cuteness is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the depth of the characters. In addition, the fluffy and fantastical totoros round out this entertaining cast of characters.

The story is heartwarming, enchanting, and quite good overall. With charming characters and even a natural “mascot” to boot, what’s there not to love? But while this was all good and true, the pacing was a bit odd at times. It was quite all right throughout most of the film; however, there were times when the plot dragged. In contrast, there were moments that sped by in seconds. The inconsistent pacing is not too severe as to throw off the entire feel of the movie, though!

All in all, My Neighbor Totoro is a charming film with outstanding visuals, gorgeous music and lovable characters. It is indeed a wonderful piece for the child in all of us.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Genkisakura

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