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a 1988 Japanese anime film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film follows the two young daughters of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. The movie won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1988. The movie was originally released in the U.S. in VHS format with the title, My Friend Totoro.

Plot:

In 1958, a university professor and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, move into an old house in rural Japan to be closer to the hospital where his wife is recovering from an illness. The daughters find that the house is inhabited by tiny animated dust creatures called soot sprites—small house spirits seen when moving from light to dark places. When the girls become comfortable in their new house and laugh with their father, the soot spirits leave.

While she is playing outside one day, the younger daughter, Mei, sees two white, rabbit-like ears in the grass. She follows the ears under the house where she discovers two small magical creatures, who lead her through a briar patch, and into the hollow of a large Camphor Laurel tree. She meets and befriends a larger version of the same kind of spirit, which identifies itself by a series of roars she interprets as "Totoro" (in the Japanese original dub it stems from Mei's mispronunciation of the word for "troll", tororu). Her father later tells her that this is the "keeper of the forest".

One rainy night the girls are waiting for their father's bus and grow worried when he does not arrive on the bus they expect him on. As they wait, Mei eventually falls asleep on Satsuki's back and Totoro appears beside them, allowing Satsuki to see him for the first time. He only has a leaf on his head for protection against the rain, so Satsuki offers him the umbrella she had taken along for her father. Totoro is delighted at both the shelter and the sounds made upon it by falling raindrops. In return he gives her a bundle of nuts and seeds. A bus-shaped giant cat halts at the stop, and Totoro boards it, taking the umbrella. Shortly after, their father’s bus arrives.

The girls plant the seeds. A few days later they awaken at midnight to find Totoro and his two miniature colleagues engaged in a ritual dance around the planted nuts and seeds. The girls join in, whereupon the seeds sprout and then grow into an enormous tree. Totoro takes his colleagues and the girls for a ride on a magical flying top. In the morning, the tree is gone, but the seeds have indeed sprouted.

Mei, believing her mother's condition has worsened, sets off on foot to the hospital and gets lost. Desperate to find her sister, Satsuki returns to the camphor laurel tree and pleads for Totoro's help. Delighted to be of assistance, he summons the Catbus, which rescues Mei, then whisks her and Satsuki over the countryside to see their mother in the hospital. The girls perch in a tree outside of the hospital to discover that she is doing well. They deliver an ear of corn that Mei believes will speed her mother's recovery, and then return home on the Catbus. When the Catbus departs, it fades away from the girls' sight.

The closing credits show Mei and Satsuki's mother returning home and feature scenes of Satsuki and Mei playing with other human children, with Totoro and his friends as unseen observers.

Source: Wikipedia

My Neighbor Totorois that rare delight, a family film that appeals to children and adults alike. While their mother is in the hospital, 10-year-old Satsuki and 4-year-old Mei move into an old-fashioned house in the country with their professor father. At the foot of an enormous camphor tree, Mei discovers the nest of King Totoro, a giant forest spirit who resembles an enormous bunny rabbit. Mei and Satsuki learn that Totoro makes the trees grow, and when he flies over the countryside or roars in his thunderous voice, the winds blow. Totoro becomes the protector of the two sisters, watching over them when they wait for their father, and carrying them over the forests on an enchanted journey. When the children worry about their mother, Totoro sends them to visit her via a Catbus, a magical, multilegged creature with a grin the Cheshire Cat might envy.

Unlike many cartoon children, Satsuki and Mei are neither smart-alecky nor cloyingly saccharine. They are credible kids: bright, energetic, silly, helpful, and occasionally impatient. Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki makes the viewer believe the two sisters love each other in a way no American feature has ever achieved.My Neighbor Totorois enormously popular in Japan, and some of the character merchandise has begun to appear in America. The film has also inspired a Japanese environmental group to buy a Totoro Forest preserve in the Saitama Prefecture, where Miyazaki's film is set. --Charles Solomon
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Details

CastTanie Kitabayashi, Sumi Shimamoto, Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Shigesato Itoi, Hitoshi Takagi
DirectorHayao Miyazaki
Genre:  Animation
Release Date:  1988
DVD Release Date:  August 31, 2004
Runtime:  86 minutes
Studio:  Walt Disney Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
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More My Neighbor Totoro reviews
Quick Tip by . April 17, 2012
posted in ASIANatomy
Like many, I think My Neighbor Totoro is one of Miyazaki's masterworks, and I think this a fine example of how to make an animated family film.  What I think makes this anime film so great is its simplicity.  Despite the fact that it's about two girls following around spirits and creatures, it's almost like a snapshot of real-life because of how believable the characters are, and this is what makes the film so enjoyable.  The artwork and animation is top-notch to boot.   …
review by . September 03, 2009
My neighbor totoro
Lovingly crafted in 1988,"My neighbor Totoro" by Hayao Miyazaki, is an endearing  Japanese children's film. The Character "Totoro" is a large bear-like incarnation of a forest spirit, and is as widely recognized in Japan as Mickey Mouse is in America.  In fact, the film studio that produced it (Studio Ghibli) uses "Totoro" in it's logo.  Studio Ghibli itself has been referred to as the Japanese equivalent to the Walt Disney animation studio. With that …
review by . June 19, 2009
This is another anime, this one by Miyazaki, that has become a favorite.  It involves nature spirits, a catbus (yes, that's correct.  A ten legged, living cat bus), soot sprites (dirt and dust has to come from somewhere, doesn't it?), and two small children.  My 9 year old granddaughter still asks to see this one, and she has probably seen it a dozen times since that first time when she was 5.  Totoro is one of the very few movies that is really rated "G", and still is just so …
review by . February 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I decided to take a look at this before the grandkids watched it. Just wanted to be sure there wasn't anything objectionable in it.     There isn't.     It is, in fact, from the very first moment, utterly and completely enchanting.     The story of two young girls with their father in a rural "haunted" house grabs you from the very first moment. The girls exude the wonder of being children. As the story moves along and the girls make their …
review by . June 04, 2008
posted in ASIANatomy
My Neighbor Totoro is a film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and it was released in Japan in 1988. There was a American release of this film in 1993 by Fox Video, but they lost the rights to the film in 2004. Disney acquired the rights and produced a new English dub with new voice actors. Disney released this DVD in 2006.    The film tells the story of two girls and their father, and their move into a new house in order to be closer to the girls' mother (who is sick and …
review by . July 08, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Everything.     Cons: Nothing.     The Bottom Line: Grab your kids, plop them down, and turn into one of them yourself.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. Note: This review is of the Walt Disney updated 2004 version.      My fourth Hayao Miyazaki film and I’m not disappointed. I wasn’t expecting to be either. After recently seeing Howl’s Moving Castle (expect …
review by . September 27, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
My neighbor Totoro is not only one of the finest animated films I have ever seen, it is one of the best movies period. It has enough heart to spead across a hundred film's, and still have some to spare. I hate to call it "too cute for words" but it is. Hayao Miyazaki, the director, (also doing this years Spirited Away, released in America by Disney) has really outdone himself. My neighbor Totoro has many terrific qualities, such as the emaculate detail. There are dozens of instances in which object …
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