Posted by psgels on 28 November 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


Most of Ghibli’s works are for all ages, but there’s always one demographic that stands out for each movie, often related to the ages of the protagonists: Kiki’s Delivery-Service, for example, is for middle-schoolers, Princess Mononoke and Ocean Waves are for high-schoolers, while Only Yesterday is for the adults. My Neighbour Totoro completes this picture by being aimed at little children, and really, it’s one of Ghibli’s finest productions.

Even if you’re not a chid of ten years old, you’ll love the nostalgic feeling that this movie creates. A lot of screen-time is spent on the two main characters (two sisters of about four and ten years old), just playing with each other and having fun, just like all children are supposed to. A major theme also is children’s fantasies, and I’m sure that everyone would have loved to meet the strange creatures portrayed in this movie when they were young.

The reason why I like My Neighbour Totoro so much is that out of all the Ghibli-movies I’ve seen, this one’s the most perfectly paced so far. Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s delivery-service and Nausicaa, for example, were great in their own ways, but their climaxes were rushed; Takahata’s movies went on for too long and Spirited Away’s second half didn’t live up to the first one, but not with My Neighbour Totoro! The first half of the movie builds the characters and setting up perfectly, and once we got to know them, the second half kicks in and the fun begins as Totoro himself comes in action. The climax itself doesn’t feel forced at all, and yet I couldn’t help but shed a tear at what happened, and the movie ends at just the right time.

But yeah, My Neighbour Totoro shares the same flaw as Kiki’s Delivery-service: the pacing may feel perfect, but I feel that there’s so much more potential left in the concept. It’s a shame that only a movie of an hour and a half could be made out of it, and this movie could have easily been extended to a 13-episode television-series, there are so many characters that could have been fleshed out and delved into. But then again, one of the charms of this movie is how it’s so simple, yet effective.

Obviously, if you expected an action-movie like Mononoke or Laputa then you should stay away from this movie. My Neighbour Totoro feels much more like the non-Miyazaki-movies of Studio Ghibli, but with a perfect integration between the realistic and the fantasy-elements. As usual, the graphics and music are excellent, but you wouldn’t expect any different from a Hayao Miyazaki-movie. Anyway, with this, I’ve seen nearly all of the major Ghibli’s movies. There’s only one of them left, and I’ve got some high expectations of it.

18 Responses

  1. arcanes says:

    Yeah, it was a great movie.

    Take no offense but, why did the movie only get a 89 out of 100? yeah I’m thinking about the ranking too much, but when a lot of shows earned a 90+, I don’t see why one of Ghibli’s finest movies shouldn’t earn a higher score.
    Sorry for being rude about this, I just had to say it :)

    Regardless, I love your reviews, keep them coming.

  2. Wyrdwad says:

    I can’t wait to read your review of Porco Rosso. I just have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what you’ll think of it. Frankly, I’m amazed that so many of the people here share my opinion that it’s one of Ghibli’s finest works, since it’s relatively unknown in most circles… and apparently Miyazaki himself dislikes it, because he said he meant for it to be whimsical and happy, but ended up making it “far too serious” (which is part of why I like it so much!).

    But there’s no denying that it’s easily one of Ghibli’s most unique, and I’m curious how you react to it. You may love it as much as we do, or you might find its uniqueness (and its intentional lack of explanation pertaining to one key plot element) unfulfilling.

    Either way, though, it should be an interesting review. But then, all of your reviews are interesting. There’s a reason you were voted the top anime blog of the year, after all! (:

    -Tom

  3. asdf says:

    does anyone know which came first, cat bus or the magic school bus?

  4. R says:

    Magic School Bus – the books predated ‘Totoro’ by a couple of years.

  5. L.A says:

    I’ve been watching quite numbers of animes until now, but this one….is the BEST I’ve ever seen in my entire life….
    well i don’t really care about scores after all, but I just thought that 89 was too harsh….
    Thanks for the review though~

  6. qwaszx says:

    Its a good movie but i dont see how its better than other anime. His movies always have things you can pick on. And although its done very well i wouldn’t enjoy it as much as an anime with mature characters like the ones psgels has reviewed in the past.

  7. Jumpin' Jap says:

    this movie could have easily been extended to a 13-episode television-series….

    ↑Ugly commercialism….I have often heard of this kind of suggestion destroying harmony of the works from foreigners.YOU MEAN IT?
    This movie is complete as a whole,apparently.
    You can’t see it?Are you sure My Neighbour Totoro Ⅱ should be made?….OMG.

    Meanless extention of the good works not from creative eagerness,for only making moneyEEure,it must be sold like hot cakes.Because of Hayao Miyazaki and his studio’s worldwide fameEE
    result miserable dissapointment.

    OF COURSE,Hayao Miyazaki and his studio is NOT
    stupid to do it like that.

  8. Karry says:

    “My Neighbour Totoro completes this picture by being aimed at little children”

    The dumbest thing i ever had heard being said about this movie. I saw it when i was 7, and i dont remember thinking anything special about it. Only now, when i’m 20+ i can really appreciate the premise. It _IS_ about nostalgia, and nostalgia cant be aimed at children by definition.

  9. Wyrdwad says:

    Karry: Actually, the target audience for the movie IS children. Just… Japanese children.

    Having worked with Japanese children for two years, I can attest to the fact that every one of them, without exception, adores the movie, more than ANY Japanese adult. (:

    That’s not to say adults can’t or shouldn’t ALSO enjoy it, though. The best children’s movies, after all, are the ones that can be appreciated by people of all ages.

    -Tom

  10. L.A says:

    Karry: I absolutely agree with your opinion. This movie is all about nostalgia.
    And I believe people, who are still in love with this movie, are ones who can really appreciate the time of past??

  11. psgels psgels says:

    Jumpin’ Jap: first, let me apologize for Blogsome’s behavior. Sometimes, it likes to hold random user’s posts for moderation, which was the reason why your comment didn’t show up.

    Second, I see what you’re talking about. The attempts of Disney to continue its stories have failed miserably. Still, I somehow feel that the characters in Totoro could have been more, because there was a lot of potential left for them after the movie ended.

    Arcanes: my top-movie reviews received a score of 91/100, so Totoro really isn’t that far away from the best of the bunch. One major problem with movies is that they’re often too short to make any considerable impact, especially when compared to TV-series.

    quaszx: I indeed don’t see Hayao as “the ultimate movie-maker”, but I do see him as one of the best ones, because his movies are simple, yet charming.

  12. L.A says:

    Karry: I absolutely agree with your opinion. This movie is all about nostalgia.
    And I believe people, who are still in love with this movie, are ones who can really appreciate the time of past….

  13. Jumpin' Jap says:

    Ah…I’m ashamed of my behavior posting many timse.I misunderstood you refused my comment.Because of my rude criticism about your opinion.I’m sorry.

    But I don’t take back my comment.Except new idea for story occur to author himself,Spin-off or Part Ⅱ,Ⅲ,more and more….should not be made easily.This is the typical way of business in hollywood,you know.I’m disgusted with it….
    Of course,We should judge not the title but the contents itself.

  14. lostty says:

    Definitely one of my favourite films that I have ever seen. I mean, how can you not like totoro? The thing that’s great about this film I find, is that even if it was intentionally aimed to be for children, anyone of any age really can enjoy it. Not too mention, but this may also be one of the most cutest films out there.
    Thanks for the great review! ^_^

  15. hummm
    but i think there is an anime I saw it befor

    anyway
    that’s realy amizing

    thanx
    ,,,

  16. Firechick says:

    I remember seeing this on Cartoon Network once. I don’t remember if I liked it or not.

  17. Sabin says:

    Best piece of animation by far

  18. iwasherexD says:

    an interesting blog i stumbled upon about the real story behind Totoro… what do you think?
    http://my.opera.com/sukekomashi-gaijin/blog/tonari-no-totoro

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