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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Neighbor Totoro - 1988

My Neighbor Totoro is another Hayao Miyazaki film that I think is both underrated and overlooked. Nowadays it seems the Miyazaki favorites are Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle. Though I love all of these mentioned, My Neighbor Totoro is at least in the same ball park as the three above. And I think it is more emotionally powerful than any other Miyazaki film I have seen before. Maybe it is just me, as it seems most animation fans disagree with my previous statements, but I absolutely loved My Neighbor Totoro.

Satsuke (Dakota Fanning) and her little sister Mei (Elle Fanning) are moving into a new house with their father, so that they can live closer to their mother, who is in the hospital. Mei soon discovers that creatures called Totoros are living in the nearby forest, and Mei and her sister become friends with the Totoros, embarking on a long adventure full of magic and imagination.

The story to My Neighbor Totoro is probably one of the best, if the best of all the Miyazaki films I have seen. Next to the obvious choice of Spirited Away, this is the most beautifully unique and wonderfully imaginative animated films viewed by me. It is simple, that is a fact, but in its simplicity is where it is amazing. Nothing actually happens very exciting throughout the film, and I have heard some say it is even boring, but it is written in such a way that develops the characters and all of their relationships so that it touches the hearts of everyone in the audience. It will make you question the role you play in your family, sitting back and looking, questioning if you treat your family right. It touched me in this way, bringing back memories of when I was a young child, and I am quite sure I am not the only one that feels this way.

The animation was Hayao Miyazaki at his finest. The cat bus was fantastic, and the totoros as well. Visually My Neighbor Totoro is an absolute pleasure to watch, and one of the better works in all of Miyazaki's films. The writing of the story by Miyazaki creates the beautiful world, and the incredible animation takes us there.

The acting by Dakota and Elle Fanning is good, and I think it probably helped that being sisters in real life made playing them in a film easier. But my biggest complaint is Hayao Miyazaki's direction. It seemed to me that he did not feel like he had the gold that he did in making this film, it seemed too safe to me. This is an unforgettable story, and I know not every film is meant to be an all time great, some are just for entertainment, but My Neighbor Totoro had the goods to be one of the best animated films ever in my opinion, and to me it did not feel like Hayao Miyazaki was not going for that.

Overall, though My Neighbor Totoro is one of my favorite Miyazaki films, it is a bit unfortunate because I think it could have been a masterpiece. Either way, combining good acting, a brilliant and wonderful story, along with stunning animation make this one of Hayao Miyazaki's finer works.

Story: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Acting: 8/10
Direction: 7/10
Visuals: 10/10

Final Rating: 9/10


  1. I think this one is my favorite Miyazaki. I should watch it again to compare it because I haven't seen the English version.

  2. I personally prefer the Japanese version, especially on this particular film. Thanks!!

  3. Nice Work Matt one of my favs by Miyazaki but not my favourite and also i have been to the real Satsuki and Mei's house.
    They Built for the Expo 2005 fair and its still their.

    Nice review Matt

  4. Wow that is actually really cool! Thanks Jesse!