Two young girls, Satsuki and her younger sister Mei, move into a house in the country with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother. Satsuki and Mei discover that the nearby forest is inhabited by magical creatures called Totoros. They soon befriend these Totoros, and have several magical adventures.
A quieter movie than other Miyazaki films, My Neighbor Totoro is strong on visuals and emotions.
The plot is cute and dramatic, but at times get a little dragged out. It is a story of siblings, of the relationship between a younger child and an older one. It is a story of family, and the strong bond between parent and child. My Neighbor Totoro conveys messages such as never losing hope, and not letting your fears get the better of you. It plays on the age old idea of children being able to see more of the spirit world than adults, yet none of the annoying adults-not-believing occurs. The emotional moments pack a strong punch and I found the movie very moving as the children confront their mother’s illness, growing up and moving.
The visuals are absolutely stunning. The Japanese country side is gorgeous and vibrant and lifelike. A rich palette of greens, gold and earthy tones turn the scenery into more than just a backdrop. It some of the most beautiful digital art I have ever seen:
The forest spirits are intriguing and the entire movie has an Alice in Wonderland feel with the spirit world existing ‘down the rabbit’ hole and the catbus and its distinctly Cheshire Cat smile. You are never entirely sure whether the spirits exist, or if they are necessary figments of the girls’ imaginations adding an interesting layer to the plot.
A sweet family friendly movie. Recommended.