CPD Classics: My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Review

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988) (or My NeighboUr Totoro if you’re in England)
Tonari no Totoro
Japanese: となりのトトロ

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 165 as of 01/01/2013

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Chika Sakamoto
Noriko Hidaka
Hitoshi Takagi

(English Dub Voice Cast: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly)

Running time: 86 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

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My Opinion:

Version Watched: Japanese with English subtitles & English dubbed version

It seems that My Neighbor Totoro is possibly the most loved of all the Studio Ghibli films. I know I certainly love it, which is why I’ve tagged this one as a CPD Classic. It’s certainly the one I hear mentioned the most and seems to be the one that has been seen by the most people (well, either Totoro or Spirited Away). Like the other Ghibli stuff I’ve reviewed so far in the IMDB Top 250, this keeps going up & has moved 34 places from 165 to 131 since I started the IMDB Project. For me (and I’m guessing most), that’s down to the actual character of Totoro. That big, cuddly, weird, um… thing! I know I have several Totoro items (a bag, a pillow, a keychain). What I wouldn’t give for a stuffed Totoro like Bonnie has in Toy Story 3!

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This is one of the “kid friendly” Studio Ghibli movies. You’re perfectly safe watching this (or Kiki’s Delivery Service or Ponyo) with your kid(s). I admit that I tend to like a movie even more when I get to see it through a child’s eyes and I’ve been able to see how much Totoro makes a 5-year-old smile & giggle. I know Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind is more “me” but nothing can really beat seeing something make a kid happy.

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I feel like I’ve said every Ghibli movie is “odd” in all my reviews so far but I know that puts some people off while it makes others possibly want to watch them even more. I suppose I’d say that Totoro is somewhere in the middle in terms of weirdness. I mean, there’s a catbus. Which is awesome! But, you know… Weird. There’s also the black soot “dust bunnies” (called Susuwatari – yeah, I had to look that up). Oh, and adorable mini Totoros!

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I love the innocence & wonder of My Neighbor Totoro. The two sisters and their relationships with each other and with the “forest spirits” are so sweet. But it doesn’t ever go overboard & get all saccharine like some Disney movies do (as much as I like those). Of course, there’s that crazy theory that Totoro is actually the God Of Death but I think that’s totally ridiculous. I prefer to believe (as Studio Ghibli insists) that these two adorable sisters who are so full of life are truly alive & well. I blame M Night Shyamalan for this stupid theory cropping up about all kinds of different movies!

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Oh, and I also really like the film’s score and cute end credits. Oh! And… if anyone has read any of my other Ghibli reviews so far, I often moan about the English dubbed versions. I’ll ALWAYS prefer the subtitled versions but I’m happy to say that the dubbed version isn’t at all bad on My Neighbor Totoro. I’m talking about the Disney dub – I’ve not seen its first dubbed version which was apparently distributed by, er… Troma Films?! lol. My Avenger Totoro – Toxic God Of Death?

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Summary:

Obviously, like a lot of people, I love My Neighbor Totoro. The story is quite straightforward & simple compared to a lot of the other Studio Ghibli films which can be quite complex and confusing. It still has that magical Ghibli feel, however, with all the weird & wonderful creatures (seriously… a catbus!). I’ll also always love that so many Ghibli films star girls as the central characters & it’s refreshing that they’re not all dopey princesses or wannabe princesses as is often the case when we get female leading roles in animated Western movies. But, most of all, I love the character of Tororo and that’s what has made this film such a huge success.

My Rating: 9/10

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Here’s my Totoro bag I tweeted a photo of while waiting at the bus stop one day. 😉

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35 thoughts on “CPD Classics: My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Review

  1. I love Totoro, but had long forgotten about it. I think i’ll get this in front of Little Miss Six to give me some My Little Pony/Disney Princess relief. I’m glad you found the dub reasonable – bad dubbing is the pits, i’ve sat through some dodgy dubs in my time. I like Sam Daly – following in his Father’s footsteps…

  2. I love Totoro, but the catbus creeps me out. Dunno why, but I find it kinda scary. I have a feeling I saw some photoreal-style fan art of it once, but my brain’s half erased it as the most terrifying thing I ever laid eyes on…

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  4. As you know, I have not seen this, but that stuffed Totoro in Toy Story is friggin PRESH. As is your bag. However, I find smiling Totoro slightly terrifying because he reminds me of Mister Babadook… *violent shudder*

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  6. Too cute, I never knew who this character was till recently because of you. When I went to Comic Con some gals that my friend knew came with us for a bit and they all had Totoro and Catbus shirts… i kept asking them what is that?! Once we walked inside it was everywhere, now that I know you love this I will find you something this year. Ok that was a long pointless story, but anyways, yes Tototoro is damn adorable and that bag is so cute.

    • Thank you, Zoe! Yes, I’m very fond of Totoro. 🙂 And so many Zoe notifications! Yay!!! This is the weekend I’ll finally be catching up on replies & on blog reading so I apologize in advance for a raid on your blog soon. 😉

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    • Thank you! Always happy to hear from another fan of this film. I adore it! Always puts a smile on my face too. Especially as it puts a smile on my daughter’s face as well. : )

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