Studio Ghibli is by far the most prolific studio in the history of Japanese animation. They are pioneers of this genre and have created some of the most interesting, beautiful, and emotionally connected worlds that you can immerse yourself into. Their work knows no bounds, creating realistic stories of love and loss, fantastical stories of beasts and ghouls, and stories of pure human interaction and connection. They can essentially make anything you can think of, and they will do it with grace. Hayao Miyazaki’s abilities as a director aren’t evident in anything as much as they are in the 1988 classic anime film; My Neighbor Totoro.
How to Download My Neighbor Totoro
You can download the film from a digital store. You can also stream it. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. Check out also other Studio Ghibli films – Spirited Away (2001), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), or Princess Mononoke (1997).
The Movie Review
We begin our story with Mei and Satsuki, two young girls who have shifted to a new house in a different district that is near a hospital in which their mother resides. Their mother suffers from spinal tuberculosis, which is a terminal illness that is slowly eating away at her. In the midst of this suffering and pain, the two young girls encounter Totoro, a fuzzy mix between a Bear and a Bunny, who is essentially a mythological creature.
However, he isn’t just a weird animal, Totoro is actually a spirit who will guide these girls to new levels of understanding about life, loss, and love.
The story of My Neighbor Totoro is one with lots of heart built into its characters, and its point of interest which is Totoro himself. Miyazaki carefully crafted these characters to embody the vision of the story, which is to identify with the human and natural side of the world.
This film focuses heavily on a few themes, in particular love, and loss. These themes are scattered throughout the film, and they take place in multiple different forms, such as leaves falling from the trees in autumn, or the bond that the two sisters share with each other.
The film is paced to perfection, and everything you witness here is through the eyes of a child. It showcases the mysteries and the imagination of a kid, as a means of escapism when things aren’t going well in their day-to-day lives. In fact, it hints at that fact multiple times throughout the film when you have trouble believing if Totoro is actually real or just a figment of their imagination. However, don’t go in expecting this film to be all fun and games, it gets super dark by the end and it will leave you trembling.
Miyazaki is one of the few people who is not afraid to challenge viewers when it comes to his stories. He showcases his films from the perspective of children, only to signify how much more damage pain can do to their fragile minds.
The main power of this film comes from its animation, and the animation quality here is pristine and always at its level best. Not only is every single character distinctive from the get-go, but they also have personalities of their own that reflect through the way they move and interact with one another. Alongside that, we’ve got fantastic voice acting by both the Japanese crew, as well as the English cast.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hayao Miyazaki film, or even a proper Studio Ghibli film if it wasn’t for the fantastic and enigmatic soundtrack by the one and only Joe Hisaishi. The man is a legend in the anime world for his absolutely breathtaking soundtracks, and My Neighbor Totoro brings no exception to that. This feature has a playful and lovable soundtrack, that goes on to be haunting and melodic at the same time during the end parts of the film.
My Neighbor Totoro the film that put Studio Ghibli on the market, and it defined them as one of the most ambitious animation studios in Japan. It certified them as geniuses and made sure that the history books would recognize Hayao Miyazaki as one of the most prolific filmmakers of our time. Not only is this film engrossing, but it also has a story that truly touches your heart and pulls on the heartstrings of every viewer.
- Breathtaking animation
- Incredible voice acting by both the Japanese and English cast
- Beautiful art design that sticks with you
- Amazing direction, a story that truly haunts you and grips you
- A soundtrack to behold, pleasant to the ears and the soul