My Neighbor Totoro

As you know, ever since my friend Émilie helped me discover the man's body of work, I have become a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki. Beginning with Princess Mononoke (Canada, USA, Europe) and Spirited Away (Canada, USA, Europe), and then with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Canada, USA, Europe), I was hooked!

The problem with such excitement was that I could have gone through this genius' entire body of work in the span of a few days. Hence, I decided to pace myself and try other styles to expand my anime horizons. So far, I have to admit that I've enjoyed basically every single Japanese animated feature I've seen, thanks in large part due to Émilie and you guys' suggestions.

But I've been dying to watch another Miyazaki film for the last couple of weeks, so I caved in and decided to give the much-loved My Neighbor Totoro a shot. I was aware that this movie was aimed at a much younger audience, and that I needed to be in the mood for something that could bring out the kid in me.

And man, I was blown away! Rarely have I had the chance to see a movie so magical, so whimsical. If you have a young child or nephew/niece or whatever, do yourself a favor and watch My Neighbor Totoro with them. You will undoubtedly share a wonderful moment that you'll cherish for a mighty long time! I can't wait for Émilie to lend me her DVD with the French translation so I can watch it with my goddaughter Angélique. At three years of age, I have a feeling that she will fall in love with Totoro.

Two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, move into an old town in rural Japan with their father. The man is a university professor, but they relocated to be closer to the hospital where his wife is recuperating from an illness. While playing outside one day, Mei, the youngest, stumbles upon two rabbit-like magical creatures. Following them into the hollow of a gigantic camphor laurel tree, Mei comes into contact with another spirit of the same kind named Totoro. On a rainy night, the older sister, Satsuki, will encounter Totoro and befriend him by lending him her father's umbrella to shelter the creature from the rain. When their mother's condition worsens and she can't finally join them at home, Mei fears for her and leaves for the hospital on foot. When she gets lost and no one can't find her, Satsuki pleads Totoro to help her find her sister. Meeting Totoro will change both girls' lives.

My Neighbor Totoro is an enchanting movie. Not just cute and fun the way most Disney movies are, this Miyazaki piece, like all the others, can be unexpectedly touching, especially with the bond shared by the daughters and their sick mother.

Visually, it's just beautiful. It is by Hayao Miyazaki, after all. Hard to believe that My Neighbor Totoro was relased more than two decades ago. Once again, the soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi captures the moods and the emotions exquisitely. This musical score is nowhere near as grand as that of Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, but it's perfect for a lighter and heart-warming project such as My Neighbor Totoro.

It was rereleased in DVD in 2005 when Disney bought the rights to all of Miyazaki's movies, so My Neighbor Totoro should be easy to find at your local video store. As I said, if there is a young child in your life, don't miss out on My Neighbor Totoro. Or if, like me, you are young at heart, treat yourself to something very special!

Here are two trailers:

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Another Studio Ghibli production which I watched with my goddaughter last weekend is The Cat Returns. It may not be as good as the Miyazaki films, but it's a fun and entertaining flick to watch with kids.

Haru is a shy high school student. When she saves a cat from being hit by a truck, little does she know that she has just saved the life of Lune, Prince of the Cat Kingdom. Before she knows it, she is offered the prince's hand in marriage and she is whisked to the Cat Kingdom. And the more she loses herself in the kingdom, the more cat-like she will become. So Haru must find a way to return to the real world before it's too late. But the King wants her to remain long enough so that she'll be trapped into cat form forever. With the help of some newfound friends, Haru must find a way to outwit the King and his court.

Here's the trailer (Sorry, I could only find a version with subtitles):

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

17 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

more recommendations-
Grave of the Fireflies, Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress, Laputa Castle in the Sky, Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, Ninja Scroll

Simeon said...

Just a few more, and you'll be completely out of worthy movies to watch. What are you gonna do then? Stop watching anime?

Anonymous said...

i remember when i used to come here for fantasy news and interviews. those were good times.

Pats Random Youtube And Anime Hotlist.

Simeon said...

Well, I remember when Pat's reviews were an indicator as to what I wanted to read. They aren't anymore, because his tastes changed dramatically in the past year. So I don't care if he goes a little to the anime side... The Random YouTube part I could live with though, as well as daily reports on Football and G.R.R.M. bets. but there's no perfect happiness, so..

Anonymous said...

His taste in SFF books changed dramatically, you say? How so?

I haven't seen much change at all. Other than the fact that he is mixing subgenres a lot more than he used to, that is...

As for the anime stuff, the guys reviewed what? 5 or 6 movies so far? It's not like it's taking over, you know. It it takes less than 2 hours to watch a movie, but it takes quite a few more to read a novel.


Simeon said...

Well, it's not something I can properly describe. But to me his tastes have... degraded. He's reviewing less "challenging" books, everything he reads gets 7.5... I know that books like "Vellum" aren't published every year, but somehow the Fantasy Hotlist has started to feel like a fanboy blog, and it had a lot more credibility to me before.

Ryan said...

I've only ever seen 4 of his movies, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and Kiki's Delivery Service. I enjoyed them all, but I was in absolute love with Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle.

I'm almost surprised I've never seen them all. I haven't been as into anime as I was when I was in college, but it really can an awesome medium. Some of my favorite series of television ever, out of any medium or form, comes from anime. I'd put Trigun or Fullmetal Alchemist up against anything -- and I'd put movies like Spirited Away up against any other movies, as well.

Anonymous said...

Somehow, I keep missing my chance to watch Howl's Moving Castle, and I haven't *had* the chance to watch Spirited Away, but those other two are awesome.

MNT is on my list, but I haven't had a chance to watch it either.

I think Kiki would make a great next review.

Personally, I haven't had an issue with the blog changing. In fact, I hadn't been reading as regularly as before until the anime reviews started up. I have so many new books to read that learning about another great one is almost painful. I think it's nice to have a break every once and awhile. But I won't mind the Htlist going back more to books when it does, either.

Pebble said...

I grew up with Miyazaki so I'm always happy to hear when someone else has discovered his greatness. I'm curious to see what you think of Laputa Castle in the Sky (my all time favourite). Grave of the Fireflies is not his but is absolutely heartbreakingly moving. I would suggest that you not to watch Ponyo lest it bursts your Miyazaki bubble. Worst bit of storytelling ever.

Anonymous said...

Really glad you enjoyed Totoro Pat as I was continually tooting its trumpet to you, so it's nice not to get the first strike out as far as recommendations go.

You should challenge yourself next and go for "Grave of the Fireflies." It's an amazing film but I'll say again, utterly heartbreaking.


Anonymous said...

the more this site strays from what i would call 'good" or "literary" fantasy to random harlequin-esque she-wolf fantasy and anime videos the less i will enjoy coming here. I agree with the other posts, the quality of the novels discussed here has taken a dive.

not every book has to be george or lynch or whatever, but seriously.

The Amazing Buttcrack said...

Hmmm, considering that this year alone he reviewed books by C. S. Friedman, Dan Simmons, China Mieville, Joe Abercrombie, Glen Cook, Ian McDonald, K. J. Parker, Peter S. Beagle, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Steven Erikson, plus a lot more, I find the claim that Pat doesn't review quality works to be a bit ridiculous.

Different strokes for different folks and all that, I know. But not that long ago many detractors bitched about the fact that he only seemed to review epic fantasy stuff, so I guess the guy decided to mix it up a bit more.

Fine with me. What I'm not interested in, I just scroll down, you know...

polishgenius said...

I love Totoro, it's a great film. Pitched at a younger audience but entirely without pretension and patronisation. Plus I normally prefer subs to dubs on foreign films but the Fanning sisters dub on this is perfect.

As for the whole complaints about Pat not reviewing fantasy, how are these films not fantasy? Same goes for Sandman (which, by the way, is as good a fantasy as has ever been written). And yeah, the quality of the novels reviewed has dipped, but then in the mainstream at least the quality of novels, particularly debuts which Pat often focuses on, hasn't been as good as it has in recent years. Not his fault.

Only thing that made me leave off reading the blog for a fair old while is the sheer amount of giveaways and excerpts to scroll through. Seems to have eased off a bit now.


I've enjoyed tracking down and watching the anime suggested here.
My Neighbor Totoro made me smile.

Jon said...

I've always wondered why anime is so low on the geekdom totem pole. I guess only manga is lower.

As a big anime fan, I'm really glad someone like Pat is appreciating and making a point of helping others discover the joys of this medium. And if only a small fraction of the people to drop by Pat's Fantasy Hotlist give Hayao Miyazaki's movies a shot, then the world will be a better place.

Regardless of what some haters might say, I feel that Pat's Fantasy Hotlist remains the fantasy blog to visit. Even more so now that someone with his credibility is actually giving anime some exposure!:D

Michael said...

Heh. I visit Pat's blog at least twice a day, I have no problem with the anime movie reviews. I interspersed my reading habits with watching animes and reading mangas. They are just another medium to tell stories.

One of Japan's anime production company, Nippon Animation/World Masterpiece Theatre production is famous for it's classic children books adaptations like Nobody's Boy, The Dog of Flanders, Heidi, Rome's Blue Skies, Anne of Green Gables, Tom Sawyer, Les Miserables and more.

Keep in mind that this year is probably not one of the better year for book readers.

Anonymous said...

De toute façon le doublage en français est, à mon humble avis, bien meilleurs que l'US (la qualité des voix, certains choix de traductions ... ). Mais ce n'est que mon avis ... je ne compte plus le nombre de fois que nous avons vu ce film avec nos enfants :)