back for my final installment in the “12 Days of Ghibli”, I’ve saved, what I consider, the best for last, My Neighbor Totoro. Released in 1988, Totoro is often considered THE Studio Ghibli film (might have something to do with Totoro appearing in the logo….). Following the story of two young sisters as they move into their new house with their father in the Japanese countryside, while their mother is in the hospital, the magic begins almost as soon as they set foot into the old house.
What starts with little soot sprites in the floorboards of the house, turns into a magical tale after Mei stumbles upon the hidden nest of Totoro, a wood spirit who inhabitants the forests surrounding their new home. While doubtful of her fantastic experience, even Satsuki gets to meet Totoro, as well as the mystic cat-bus that traverses the countryside, unseen by human eyes. Weaving a story of midnight trips as the wind across the countryside, the sisters make friends with Totoro and his companions, who help their acorn seeds, planted in their mother’s garden, sprout leaves right before their eyes. Totoro takes a heart-wrenching turn when Satsuki receives a telegram instructing them to contact the hospital her mother is staying at. While both sisters become very distressed at the news of their mother’s continued sickness, Mei decides to go visit her mom, a nearly three hour walk, even for an adult. Thus begins the community’s desperate search for the lost child. After hours of searching high and low with no results, Satsuki pleads for Totoro to show himself and help her find her lost sister.
I’m not going to spoil the ending, but I will say it was very enthralling and true to the style Miyazaki will use in his future Ghibli features. My Neighbor Totoro served to put Japanese animation (particularly film animation) in the global spotlight, and for those of you with sharp eyes, you’ll notice Totoro even made an appearance in the recent Toy Story 3 Pixar film. Definitely a must-see for any one interested in anime films, Totoro also makes for a great movie regardless of genre-preferences, unless you despise wholesome films that are very touching…