Title: My Neighbor Totoro
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: (voices) Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly, Pat Carroll, Frank Welker, Lea Salonga
Running time: 88 minutes, Rated G, Available on DVD
Special features: (only on Blue-ray disc) Original Japanese Storyboards; Original Japanese Trailer; Behind the
Microphone; Behind the Studio (includes 6 featurettes).
Disney Studios has released the 25th Anniversary version of the acclaimed anime My Neighbor Totoro. The story of a father Professor Kusakabe and his two daughters, older daughter Satsuki and four-year-old Mei as they move into a new house in the country to be closer to his wife whom is in the hospital. The two little girls discover many mystical creatures that live in the garden and trees surrounding the house, including a giant furry monosyllabic creature that calls himself Totoro. The two girls have little adventures with Totoro which is documented in letters Satsuki writes to her mother while she’s in the hospital as they await her release and return home.
The negative: Those who aren’t a fan of anime will get bored. Dakota and Elle Fanning were very young when they performed the voices for this film and the high pitched screaming and yelling can get irritating. If you don’t own a Blu-ray, you get basically screwed on the special features because are are none on the standard DVD version.
The positive: It’s a simple story about family and friendship to which many people can relate. There are some elements of the bizarre (the cat bus and the soot gremlins), and kids will eat that up.
My Neighbor Totoro is a cute story with beautiful animation. I think it’s a great film to show kids because it shows them it is possible to disconnect the electronic umbilical cord (the family doesn’t even have a phone!) and survive. The characters are charming, the dad is so positive and optimistic to a fault, who encourages his daughters imaginations and plays along. It’s a refreshing portrait of how children should be allowed to be children and it’s okay not to grow up so fast.
Reviewed by: JM Willis
Total Rating: A