Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

My Neighbour Totoro – 1988

my_neighbor_totoro_posterThe announcement of Studio Ghibli’s closing is bound to hit many diehard anime fans hard. From an ignorant, uneducated mindset of anime, it appears as though Studio Ghibli was a powerhouse in Japanese animation, bringing it to the world stage where it became recognised ever more so than before.
Stylistically, anime is stunningly beautiful and unique in so many ways. On the Empire 500 Greatest Films of All Time list, at least 6 Japanese animations sit quite high, even more so on the iMDB Top 250 list.
It is a credit to not only the culture, but the industry in general, and it should be noticed even more than it is.
One of Ghibli’s most recognised pieces comes from 1980, and it has no doubt shaped the future of anime and the fantastical element seen in so many that followed it’s release.

“My Neighbour Totoro” is directed by Hayao Miyazaki and tells the story of a family relocating to a small house surrounded by lush, mysterious forestation. The picturesque scenery with beautiful landscapes dominate the first act of the film and really demonstrates why this is such a beautiful art form.

my-neighbor-totoro-crawling-through-bushMei and Satsuki, the two young girls begin to notice strange and intriguing things happening within the house and become increasingly curious about their new home. After Mei finds herself venturing alone into the woods, she comes across something like no other; Totoro; a virtually indescribable racoon/squirrel/mouse-like creature that is loud, lumbering but hugely endearing.
From this moment, the film takes a dramatic turn into the wonderful and magical world of surrealist cinema, escaping reality and taking the audience on what can only be described as a journey like no other.

There are many opinions regarding “My Neighbour Totoro”, one of which suggests that the beast itself is in fact the angel of death, and the story is one big metaphor for an infamous murder rampage in Japanese history.
Although it has been denied by Ghibli officials, it shows how open the film is to various interpretations.

my-neighbor-totoro-2The strangeness but overall beauty of “My Neighbour Totoro” is standard amongst all anime classics, but this possesses an element of imagination that is both clever and iconic.
The bus stop scene is arguably the best scene of the film and it includes what has become the iconic image representative of the film (see poster above).

Miyazaki’s 1980 classic is one that won’t appeal to everyone, but it is definitely one to observe and admire if you like being swept away into the mystical land of the unknown, which as it so happens, is right in front of our noses.
The animation techniques are magnificent, especially for the time, and the characters are sweet, relatable and ever so joyous.
There is humour, suspense, drama and music throughout “My Neighbour Totoro”and when it all combines together, the end result is something truly magical.

4/5

4 comments on “My Neighbour Totoro – 1988

  1. Noemie
    August 7, 2014

    Every time I say I’m not into Japanese animated movies. People say I should watch spirited away and my neighbour totoro. So far I’ve watched only a few movies but they’re the two I liked the least haha.

    Don’t know if I should keep trying?

    • wmsteele
      August 7, 2014

      Yeah these are the two that people keep recommending. Apparently spirited away is Japan’s most successful film ever! Pretty crazy!
      I’m a fan of anime now! I reckon it has a lot more to offer!

      • Noemie
        August 7, 2014

        Not surprised for Spirited away. I remember how huge it was in France when it came up…but I definitely liked Grave of the Fireflies better.

      • wmsteele
        August 7, 2014

        Yeah it was pretty popular here too!
        I remember watching Princess Mononoke! That was great! I reckon I’ll watch it again sometime soon!
        I would recommend it!

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