Friday, August 31, 2012

My Neighbor Totoro...a feel good Japanese animated film

a gift from a friend who always asked me
"where can I buy Totoro?"
I have good impression about film outfit Studio Ghibli of Japan. It is because of the great quality animated films they produced that I already watch.   They’re dramas are good for kids and appealing also for adults who like light but entertaining relevant stories such as  Spirited Away (one of the best) and Ponyo.

Because of its popularity and award-winning stance, My Neighbor Totoro (a wood spirit) was dubbed and released two more times but in English version. The last one was under Walt Disney around 2005 or 2006 which featured the voices of sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning ( as Satsuki and Mei Kusakabe), Timothy Daly (Mr. Kusakabe), Pat Caroll (Granny), Frank Welker (Totoro and Catbus) and International Filipina artist Lea Salonga (Mrs. Kusakabe).  I was surprised to know the latter because what I only know about Salonga’s works in Disney are being singing voice of Fa Mulan (Mulan) and Princess Jasmine of Aladdin.


 Has well established characters

My Neighbor Totoro (MNT) also known as My Friend Totoro showcased the rural life of Kusakabe family. The sisters Satzuki and Mei are typical little girls who love fun and adventure but manifest good manners.  Mei is very adorable and playful kid; she’s a true representation of your cute little girl.

On the other hand, Satsuki is a model daughter and sister. She's mature to take care of Mei and to help her father in the absence of their mother.  Although very busy, she shows her eagerness to study, to play and to wonders.  One good proof of that she’s still a kid is she also sees mysterious Totoro.

 Take you to old and simple life you missed

The story is set in 1950s and at that the time people had already thinking of spirts and creatures. Young boy Kanta Okagi gives a hint that they believe in haunted house.  If MNT is other movie, living in an isolated and old house means horror. But the film creator Hayao Miyazaki summed it with fun and adventure. The field is cinematic and their house looks ideal for quite life but full of thrill. The only obvious thing in it is the big tree beside Kusakabe's house. You can guess that there’s something in it.

A story that doesn’t need villain

It's rare that I see a film, whether animation or not, that doesn’t have antagonist but still can hook the audience and offer interesting plot.   Because of it you, don't need to hate anyone to like the lead characters. Furthermore,  you don’t need also to wonder a person’s motivation in ruining the live of the sisters who are very lovely to punish. This makes the story more endearing and commendable.

Not too complicated and doesn't need big conflict

The only problem in the story that I think big enough is the illness of Mrs. Kusakabe which seems serious and when Satsuki looking for Mei when she lost her way going to the hospital.

Even befriending the mischievous Totoro, which can be complicated knowing he's a magical creature, is not an issue for two girls.  Thank you to good nature of their father, who is responsible, sweet and understanding, everything is smooth. 

I appreciate Dakot and Elle here, they are lovely

You just let it be and appreciate everything

MNT is for kids that are for sure but even if it’s clear, you can help but to appreciate it more compare to other animated films. In fact if it’s only your usual anime or animated films, there are so many things you can't accept. But maybe because of the well-written story, as an observant you are prepared that this is just a simple journey of two sisters and you ought to join them to see the wonders in their new world.  

Another pleasant excuse in MNT is its being almost open-ended story, you'll just agree that it should be happy ending.
The drawings specifically the strange giant Totoro and his gang are honestly not as colorful, as detailed and as pretty unlike to other anime characters we know. But they are acceptably cute because of their adorable and mystical traits. That big Totoro is very interesting creature. His physical feature very outrageous but he proves that whatever you see is just one thing in his identity. He's generous, sincere and unique friend.     


When we are young we believe in the impossible and magical things. We easily believe in nice stories that we learned.  We can even create our own tales out of our wild imaginations.

But little by little as we grow older, our unique visions vanished as we adopt what the real world teaches us. Of course, facing reality is a must but neglecting the child in you, as Totoro representing, you’ll miss the spectacles in your life.    

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