Friday, 5 April 2013

My Neighbour Totoro

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Original Story and Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki

A Studio Ghibli Production. 1988

Main Characters: Satsuki and her little sister Mei, Totoro.

Studio Ghibli was established in 1985 in Tokyo. The studio was led by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki. It has produced over 14 feature-length animated films with titles including “Howl’s Moving Castle”,” Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke”.

A Personal Note: I want a Totoro, not a soft toy version, a REAL Totoro. Of course one could never own a Totoro but I would like to sit down with him and have a good old roar. I would like his help in my garden and then I would like to take a nap with him….well…..on him.

Before you think I have gone completely crazy, I advise you to get your hands on this beautiful, comforting film and have a look for yourself. If you don’t want to do all of the things I just mentioned, I worry for your inner-child!

Set in “an idyllic rural retreat” you get swept away to a world inhabited by adopted grannies, soot sprites, acorn seedlings, giant friendly trolls and a cat bus (not a bus service for the conveyance of felines, no, it is an actual cat, the shape and size of a bus with magical transportation capabilities).

I love the gentle unfolding of the story in this animated film. The conflicts that do occur are human and relatable. There is nothing that is too aggressive or too assaulting. The emotional journey you take with Satsuki and Mei is involving without the constant threat of peril and without a condescending all-encompassing resolution in the end.

The art work on this film is detailed and glorious. The character development, the landscapes and the family home are so inviting I want to pack up and set sail for Japan.

The underlying themes of respecting nature, the importance of the family bond and the magic and wonder of innocence are subtle but well constructed. I feel that rather being hit over the head with “message”, you feel nourished by a keen observation of tradition and a respect for the intelligence of the audience.

If you are feeling a little tired of pretty pink princesses and over-hyped, over-advertised 3D movies in super duper high definition, give the skilful animated world of Studio Ghibli a go. Hopefully you will be as captivated and enticed by this view into a different culture as I am.

Nerdy Fun Fact: Totoro is so awesome he makes a guest appearance in Pixar’s “Toy Story 3”.

My surprise 30th birthday cake

All quotes and information taken from The Studio Ghibli Collection DVD.
All images and characters copyright of Studio Ghibli.

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