Posted 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

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 11:18 PM)
    @Bam@K-off: Aye, on a re-read it does a bit yeah. Finding a link between two sets of fundamentalists, makes one think =<
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 11:12 PM)
    @K-off: right?! lol
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 10:58 PM)
    @Emma Sounds like our own fundamentalists if you phrase it that way, lol.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 10:48 PM)
    So now Isis have taken to making a fake film like trailer video. And also they are trying to ban maths and social studies in schools, they also want to erase the word evolution.
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 09:55 PM)
    @Bam I can get Friend on that, she’s an artist, lmao. I’m kidding as well, I judge women by 40% looks, and 60% intelligence.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 09:37 PM)
    But we can work your comment to the back of the T-shirt, it makes it more humorous.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 09:36 PM)
    @K-off: Hahaaa! That’s kind of a high bar mate, for you and me 30-looking-folks are not elders; more like our peers. But I kid mostly, I’m not too sexually fond of older women, although there have a been a few that have aroused my ire.
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 09:24 PM)
    @Bam But if she looks over 30, then nope.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 08:43 PM)
    Great T-shirt slogan:
    SEDUCE THE ELDERS! <3
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Sep 17. 2014 08:42 PM)
    @K-off: you’re probably right about this guy m8, I’m surprised his still stickin around to beat the shit out of this dead horse.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Clipboard03

Mushishi – 07

Now this was such a beautiful episode. We often see Mushi portrayed as parasites. In fact, they are pretty much based on the insects and viruses of their world. There probably are enough real viruses and insects living in the Mushishi world, but they just aren’t the focus of the series. Anyway, what they did […]

Clipboard04

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 06 & 07

This is where this arc gets weird. We’re still in adventure modus, however in these two episodes Jotaro not only meets some of the most bizarre Stand users, it’s also done in the most camp way possible. You can see a clear difference with the first two seasons of Jojo: there it was all about […]

Clipboard01

Ping Pong – 05 & 06

Episodes 05 and 06 are dedicated to character-development. It’s here where Ping Pong shows that it also knows its stuff in terms of storytelling; the develoment doesn’t start too early or too late, and these two episodes really added depth to all of the different characters, despite that there were no big matches. I’m currently […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi – 03 – 06

I have not forgotten about this show. Not at all. I just finished marathoning these four episodes, and holy cheeseballs on a stick! this is the best anime in years! This was everything I could have hoped for and blows just about everything else out of the water. Talk about raw, powerful storytelling. I now […]

Clipboard03

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – 03 – 05

Jojo really is not kind to its females. Every time a hint is even dropped to a girl kicking ass here, it comes with this weird plot-twist that undermines any fighting potential of them. In this arc, it’s the rule that says that your stand will kill you if youaren’t strong enough. And so, Joseph’s […]

Clipboard01

Ping Pong – 03 & 04

The opening of Ping Pong wasn’t done in time, so the first two episodes showed a sortof montage as a placeholder. Now we know why, with episode 03 and 04. The creators actually got the single best animator currently in the business to oversee it: Shinya Ohira. This guy understands animation like no other. The […]

Clipboard07

Ping Pong – 02

Yes, I know that more people here were involved in making this series beyond Masaaki Yuasa. It’s written by the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet, Taiyo Mashimoto. That guy is awesome. And the combination between those two makes this series even better. Because here’s the thing: anime is significantly different from manga or light novels. Beyond […]

Clipboard02

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 02

We can never quite get rid of magic fights at a school, now can we, Jojo. Ah well, I forgive it this time, just due to how hilarious it looks seeing these ridiculously bulky men walk around pretending to be high school students. It’s just so over the top, and yet Jojo sets itself apart […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi Season 2 – 02

Oh yes. This is it. This is what storytelling should be about: telling real stories about real people, all with their own problems that need to be overcome. And this show does that time and time again in just one episode. I still can’t believe how authentic this series is. The thing is, when I […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]