My Neighbor Totoro: One of the best family films of all time

23 Dec

Totoro 8 totoro stuffed animal3 (640x400)When the movie, “My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)” came out in 1988, children in Japan became captivated by this big, fluffy, magical creature called Totoro.  The movie was a big hit.  Hayao Miyazaki, the director of the film, was already well-known by then.  “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” released several years before, made him a household name.  But it was “My Neighbor Totoro” that turned him into a beloved film director in the hearts of Japanese.

Twenty-five years after the movie was released, Totoro is still one of Japan’s favorite animation characters.  Its popularity among Japanese children is sometimes compared with that of Winnie the pooh in England.  One million Totoro stuffed animals have been sold so far, and you’ll still find Totoro items sold everywhere in Japan.

The other day my friend made Totoro dolls.  When I saw the picture of them, I suddenly had the urge to see the movie which I had not seen since my childhood.  In the following weekend I sat down to watch it.  What struck me was that  I recalled every song in it, even though I didn’t remember the storyline at all.  The music brought back the excitement and joy I had felt as a child.  And this time around I came away with a deeper understanding of what Totoro, the forest spirit, represented – the mystery of nature and the mutual trust between humans and animals.

Totoro 9 (621x640)

Handmade Totoro dolls

Even though you haven’t seen “My Neighbor Totoro,” you may have seen other movies by Hayao Miyazaki.  One of his more recent films “Spirited Away” won the academy award in 2002, making his film international success.   Miyazaki’s other masterpieces include  “Princess Mononoke,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and “Ponyo.”  His colorful images and complex storylines have fascinated us during his impressive career spanning over forty years.

Miyazaki  announced this summer that he’d be retiring, which sadden many of his fans.  His last film “The Wind Rises” was released this summer.  It’s based on a true story of a man who designed fighter air crafts used during WWII.  The film will be coming to the U.S in February.  In the meantime, you can enjoy his classic films on DVD.  “My Neighbor Totoro” is a perfect family movie, one that will captivate your imaginations and delight the hearts of children.

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7 Responses to “My Neighbor Totoro: One of the best family films of all time”

  1. wmckenzie95 December 24, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Thanks. I will definitely check out the movie. On my blog, I talked about Hayao Miyazaki’s movie “The Wind Rises.” I saw the trailer and it looked pretty good.

    • Yumi December 24, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

      I agree. The movie looks very interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

      • wmckenzie95 December 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

        The Keanu Reeves film “47 Ronin” came out Christmas Day over here in the US, but heard it did very poorly in Japan. Do you think it will fail here also?

        • Yumi December 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

          I just saw the trailer, and it looked awful! I didn’t even know it was showing in Japan – no one was talking about it. Now I know why.

          • wmckenzie95 December 29, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

            I feel that Hollywood does not know how to portray Japanese history in the right way. When they do portray Japanese people in film, it tends to be perceived in a negative light.

            • Yumi December 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

              Well, I think Hollywood movies are getting more and more boring and absurd these days. I much prefer independent films. Are you still going to see 47 Ronin?

              • Wayne McKenzie January 1, 2014 at 12:34 am #

                I just saw the movie you were telling me about. It was a great movie. Thanks for the recommendation!

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