Anime Meta-Review


My Neighbor Totoro


By Date




Title Info

  • alias: Tonari no Totoro
  • alias: Totoro
  • type: movie
  • grade: exemplary
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title is a personal favourite.
  • made: 1988
  • Review created: A while ago, i'll revise it eventually.
  • mod: none

This is a very special film, seemingly being Miyazaki's appeal to the magic of childhood. This may make it uniquely suitable for children, but that certainly doesn't mean it is only for children. In fact this is one of the most charming and absorbing movies in anime for people of all ages. The story concerns two young girls (12 and 6?) moving to rural japan along with their father so they can be close to their mother's hospital. As is expected of Miyazaki they are complex characters, a touching mixture of capable (especially for the older) and young innocence and vulnerability, and they work wonderfully together.

In this Miyazaki vision of an idyllic rural past they come face to face with the existence of a certain magic that still lingers on. It is this magic that both draws them into the environment they inhabit, and shelters and assists them when crisis and stress enter the story. That said the story is gentle and patient, with an astounding sense of atmosphere and observation that extends to both the mundane and the magical. It is this deep skill in perception and representation (the heart of Ghibli?) that makes the characters so powerful and the drama (decidedly non epic) so absorbing. The `magic' elements are wonderfully complex, full of character, and well integrated into the `real' world so that they only add to the depth of the human drama. I simply cannot fully express in a written review how skillfully the elements of character, story and scene are blended into a marvellous whole.

This is further enhanced by the `normal' ghibli production treatment. The visual design is wonderful, animation is astounding and the music good enough I own and listen to the audio CD frequently. In addition the english dub is actually pretty good, and in this case a dub is great as it allows for a younger audience. If there is a polar opposite to the `not for the sensitive' label then this is it, but anyone without a total humanity amputation should be able to enjoy this ride. It is possibly worth mentioning that the movie is of a decent length (1:30?) and that at one point the family bath together, which results in a lot of splashing but nothing remotely offensive.

Supposedly this movie has caused a number of `Totoro' reserves to come into existence in Japan, including the area where the anime was set. The Anime Critic has some spoiler pictures (as does the box cover apparently) but loved the film. More spoiler pictures at THEM and no suprise to find their review has no doubts as to the quality of this movie. Both Lord Carnage and Herself the Elf likes this film, but the review is largely synopsis. Still, Herself states, "it doesn't talk down to you, so adults can enjoy it just as much as the little ones", which is a valid observation. I seriously recommend not reading any reviews as the quality of the movie is beyond question and actually being introduced to the `magic' without warning is a lot more fun.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:26 WST 2009