My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro is an anime movie
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The award winning 1988 film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.


My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
The film My Neighbor Totoro is an animated movie of two young sisters discovering a mystical world at their new home. It's the third anime film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Music was composed by Joe Hisaishi. The Studio Ghibli company produced the movie and distributed by TOHO.
 
The original Japanese release of the film was on April 16, 1988. The movie was first released on VHS and laserdisc in North America by Tokuma Japan Communications' US subsidiary in 1993 with the title, "My Friend Totoro". This was later released on VHS and DVD by FOX Video, but the rights expired in 2004. The movie was re-released with a new dub cast by the Disney company on March 7, 2006, and was the first version released in the U.S. to include both the English and Japanese dub work. 
 
The titular character, Totoro, has become as iconic in Japan as Winnie the Pooh is in Great Britian. He has gone on to have cameo appearances in a variety of Studio Ghibli movies. A Totoro plush toy has also made an appearance in Pixar's Toy Story 3(2010).

Plot

Left: Satsuki, Mr.Kusakabe and Mei. Right: Mrs.Kusakabe , Mei and Satsuki
Left: Satsuki, Mr.Kusakabe and Mei. Right: Mrs.Kusakabe , Mei and Satsuki
 While their mother is in the hospital convalescing from a long illness, Satsuki and her little sister, Mei, are taken by their father,Professor Kusakabe, to an old house in the country.  They clean the house of lurking "dustbunnies" and turn it into a home. Father takes the bus to the university where he lectures, Satsuki attends the local school, and Mei gets lost in the undergrowth, where she discovers a family of round, fluffy woodland creatures. Mispronouncing "troll," from the Three Billy-Goats Gruff, she calls them Totoros.  

Totoro and Mei's first encounter.
Totoro and Mei's first encounter.
Adults cannot see these Totoros, who befriend the children when Satsuki lends one an umbrella. He returns the favor by growing them a tree with magic acorns and taking them on a magical ride through the countryside on the Catbus-a many-legged feline transport with a Cheshire Cat's grin straight out of Alice in Wonderland.   Mei resolves to take her mother a gift but becomes lost on the way. Fearing the worst, the adults send out search parties, and a distraught Satsuki calls on the Totoros' aid.
 

Analyzing the Film

Considered as Hayao Miyazaki's greatest work, MNT is also a very personal film, set in the disappearing countryside of the creator's childhood and featuring a child's love for a bedridden parent-Miyazaki's own mother suffered from spinal tuberculosis. MNT has the widest appeal of any of Miyazaki's films, aimed as it is at an audience so young that it can genuinely be described as family entertainment, unlike his more adult-themed works such as Porco Rosso or teen adventures like Nausicaä.  
 
MNT sees everything through the unquestioning, uncritical, undaunted eyes of a child, and it is an uplifting film of unadulterated hope, originally shown on a double bill with its heartrending opposite, Grave of the Fireflies. There are many echoes of other productions from Studio Ghibli, particularly in MNT's depiction of a disappearing pastoral existence, with a ghostly rural world superimposed on modern times, much like the studio's more serious Pompoko. Miyazaki's Japan is a nation very much rooted in its own past, with ancient local shrines overlooking the contemporary action, and the Totoros leading the girls in a stirringly primal fertility ritual. It also mixes the magical with the mundane in the charming style of Kiki's Delivery Service and, like the creator's much more downbeat Princess Mononoke, refuses to point a formulaic finger at a bad-guy scapegoat. This latter point was of particular importance to Miyazaki, exasperated at modern parents' willingness to use the TV as a babysitter and disgusted with the conflict-based story lines of most modern children's cartoons.
 
At one critical point in the plot, the "next stop" sign on the Catbus revolves to reveal a destination of particular importance. Whereas modern anime distributors would have digitally replaced it with English letters in translation, the dub released in the U.S. in 1994 was actually made in 1989 at a time when such technology was unavailable. Consequently, the Catbus has a warm, fluffy voice to announce the next stop in the English version-provided by Streamline Pictures' producer Carl Macek.  
   

Reception

MNT's appeal has not diminished since its appearance. Now the center of a huge industry of tie-in products, it is that rare case of a film whose spin-offs were created by audience demand after the fact, instead of generated by the company as part of a publicity offensive. The most recent spin-off is a ten-minute short anime, Mei and the Kittenbus, which premiered at Tokyo's new Studio Ghibli Museum in 2001.

Characters & Voice Actors

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Totoro ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Frank Welker ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (English)
Hitoshi Takagi ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Satsuki Kusakabe ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Noriko Hidaka ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Dakota Fanning ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (English)
Mei Kusakabe ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Chika Sakamoto ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Elle Fanning ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (English)
Nekobasu ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Frank Welker ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (English)
Hitoshi Takagi ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Tatsuo Kusakabe ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Shigesato Itoi ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Tim Daly ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (English)
Yasuko Kusakabe ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Sumi Shimamoto ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Lea Salonga ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (English)
Kanta Ogaki ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Toshiyuki Amagasa ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Paul Butcher ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (English)
Kanta's Mother ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Hiroko Maruyama ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Kanta's Grandmother ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Pat Carroll ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (English)
Tanie Kitabayashi ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)

Credits

Add a credit to My Neighbor Totoro. (No voice actors. Add voice actors to characters above.)
Hayao Miyazaki Director, Writer One of the most widely-recognized anime directors in Japan and probably the most well-known outside of Japan, Hayao Miyazaki is known for his whimsical films, created by the animation studio he co-founded, Studio Ghibli.
Carl Macek Adaptation
Hayao Miyazaki Director, Writer One of the most widely-recognized anime directors in Japan and probably the most well-known outside of Japan, Hayao Miyazaki is known for his whimsical films, created by the animation studio he co-founded, Studio Ghibli.
Joe Hisaishi Music
Toru Hara Producer
Hisao Shirai Cinematographer

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name: My Neighbor Totoro
Release Date: May 3, 1993
Name: となりのトトロ
Romaji: Tonari no Totoro
Release Date: April 16, 1988
Rating: G
Runtime: 86 (mins)
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