My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Satsuki (left) waits at the bus stop with a Totoro in the 1988 movie "My Neighbor Totoro"

For those of you who feel a slight twinge when you hear someone mention the word ‘anime’ because it brings up images of fighting creatures interstellar robot wars, I invite you to take a step away from the more violent genre of Japanese animation and watch the award winning 1988 Studio Ghibli production “My Neighbor Totoro“. This classic movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki is what I consider the leader and best example of work produced by a now fully world renowned studio. The highest quality of backgrounds, rich with color and emotion blended with a great story and wonderful characters. The story is based around the Kusakabe family (a professor and his two young daughters, Satsuki and Mei) who move into a new house while the girl’s mother is recovering from an illness. The youngest girl, Mei, discovers small spirits that live in the new house which leads to the discovery of a larger wood spirit, or ‘Totoro’ living close by. What makes this story so special is the innocent flow of a story that leaves the viewer with a good feeling about the everyday problems this family faces and the magical discoveries that follow them.

The English dubbed version includes the voices of Dakota and Elle Fanning as the two young daughters and Pat Carroll as the voice of a neighbor’s Grandmother. One of the more imaginative creatures in the film is a large cat that is a bus, complete with headlight eyes, who rides along at the speed of wind. If you have never seen this film I suggest you put aside any thoughts you might have about anime and watch this superb film.

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