My Neighbor Totoro Review
Written By: Artur Galvao
Hello guys, welcome to Ghibli July!
For some reason I had dubbed this month as Ghibli July. Where all the anime reviews are about films made Studio Ghibli. I hope to get all of them done by this month but I mostly likely won’t. So, we’ll keep pushing Ghibli July until the next month. So, make sure to check this website every week for another review. Just between the two of us I just wanted an excuse to re-watch all these movies. Just before we get underway with this review, if you don’t know who Studio Ghibli is, they are essentially the Pixar of the Japan. However, to date they have not released a single bad movie. Within their filmography each movie is great in one way or another and some are masterpieces. Appropriately, we start this month with a masterpiece. We began this month with My Neighbor Totoro. My Neighbor Totoro was directed by the legend himself, Hayao Miyazaki. The movie debuted in theaters in Japan on April 16, 1988. My Neighbor Totoro is considered to be Miyazaki’s breakthrough film.
This movie does not have conventional plot, you could call it a ghost story, though there’s barely any story at all – no baddies, no conflicts, nothing scary, little beyond “mild peril”. It follows two young sisters who move to the countryside with their father to be close to their sick mother in a nearby hospital. Readjusting to their unfamiliar surroundings, they discover a host of cuddly forest spirits, invisible to grown-ups. You’d think that a movie with little story surely could not be a masterpiece but instead of hindering the movie it aids it. The reason why doesn’t is because of the likeability of the characters. My Neighbor Totoro is a much quieter, more lyrical movie than Miyazaki had yet made, but it would become what he’s known for. Totoro represents the spirit of childish joy. It allowed the filmmaker to search into his own childhood dreams to create the magical characters that have remained as popular today as they were in 1988. This movie so synonymous with the company that Totoro has began the official mascot of the company. Alike to Mario and Nintendo, Totoro and Ghibli have become iconic in their respective fields.
Time for the segment where I suck the dick out of the animation staff and Miyazaki’s. This one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. The animation perfectly captures the themes of wonder and joy that the movie in conveying. Every shot is handled with care and detail. Their technique of using a watercolor look for the backgrounds and working within the distinctive Japanese anime tradition of characters with big round eyes and mouths that can be as small as a dot or as big as a cavern, become trademark of Miyazaki’s. Miyazaki along with his staff paved the way for what Japanese animation is today. Even by today standards, with films like Your Name, My Neighbour Totoro still holds up. The animation is so well constructed that every time I re-watch this movie I notice something new. Its because the lack of plot, the film becomes dependent more on the animation and characters in order to keep the movie from becoming boring. Now, there will be people that watch this movie and will find it boring, but whenever you start to feel bored just look off to the background and you’ll see something wonderful. I believe its possible to find the movie boring but impossible to not like the animation. I can keep going on and on about the animation, but then we’d be here all day and if you haven’t watched the movie then please go do so. This movie the benchmark way of to make an animated movie. Although this a kid’s movie it also appeals to the older demographic. While kids will enjoy the cute animals, adults will be transported back to a time in their childhood where life was filled with wonder and amazement. I love this movie in every aspect from story, to character, to animation.
Something that doesn’t get the attention it deserves are the voice actors of this film. Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Hitoshi Takagi and Shigesato Itoi, all do a fantastic job at selling this world to the audience. Their performances make a potentially silly plot into a sophisticated execution of story telling.
Just go watch this movie if you haven’t, its really one of the greats. And if you watch already, go watch again!
Artur’s Rating: 9/10
Next time we look at Grave of Fireflies.
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