My Neighbor Totoro is a beautiful animated movie, from 1988, that tells the story of two sisters and their little adventures once they move to rural Japan together with their father, in order to be closer to their mother who is sick in the hospital.
It all starts with Satsuki and her little sister Mei moving together with their father in a small village in Japan. The girls seem really excited about the place and see everything as an adventure ready to begin.
One day while she is playing in their backyard, little Mei, finds a little creature that she decides to follow. And then, just like in Alice in Wonderland, she finds herself in another world, where she meets this really big creature that she decides to call Totoro.
Seeing that she’s missing, her sister and her father start looking for her and they find sleeping somewhere in the woods. When she wakes up she tells them what she saw and instead of tearing her dream up, her father tells her he was probably a spirit of the woods, while her sister says she wants to meet him.
On other occasion, while it was raining outside, the two girls decide to go and wait for their father at the bus station because he forgot his umbrella. He misses the bus, but the girls keep waiting for him in the rain. At a certain point Totoro decides to join them and waits with them. Seeing that he doesn’t have an umbrella Satsuki decides to give him her father’s. Finally, Totoro’s bus arrives (which for some reason was a cat similar to the one in Alice in Wonderland), and leaves, but not before giving them a gift. Soon after, it stops raining and their father arrives.
They open the gift and see that he gave them some acorns (for some reason these wood creatures like them) so the girls decide to plant them. For the next few days, Mei keeps taking care of them, but they can’t seem to grow, until one night, when Totoro and the other two little creatures decide to dance around them. Mei and Satsuki join them. The acorns start growing into a big beautiful tree which they all get on the top of. The next day, the girls realize that the acorns did start growing, but just as a few little plants. Still, it didn’t matter, the girls loved it.
The climax of the movie is when the girls get really excited because their mother would come home from the hospital. However, they receive a telegram that says that their mom needs to stay under longer supervision. Obviously, the girls get really upset and Mei decides to run away. The whole village starts looking for her, but she’s nowhere to be found so Satsuki goes into the woods and asks Totoro for help. He calls for his bus, which takes her exactly where Mei is. Together they also go to see their mother and see she is actually alright.
To be honest I wasn’t really excited to see this movie, because I was never really into Japanese animations/cartoons, but I decided to give this one a try and I was pleasantly surprised.
The story was really good and kept me hooked the whole time. I really liked all the characters, but my favorite was, by far, Mei. There’s something about her that makes her very likeable. The relationship between her and Satsuki is, I believe, quite atypical, because Satsuki let Mei follow her everywhere she went, which I think would somewhat annoy normal siblings. (I know I found it annoying when my brother would follow me around everywhere).
What I didn’t like about it is that it focused very little on their mother, which in some way was the reason for everything that happened in the movie. Therefore I would have loved to learn more about her and the reason why she was hospitalized. Another thing that I found a little bit weird was the cat-bus. It made me think that the person who created must have been on drugs while drawing it. (If you watch the movie, you might think the same.)
All in all, My Neighbor Totoro, is a pretty good movie that you should definitely watch if you want to see something different for a change. I know I’m definitely going to to give some other Japanese animations a try.
Verdict: Old can definitely be gold