DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Charming tale for children told in handsome artwork

Published on April 10, 2006

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)


Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Studio: Ghibli/Disney 25349 (2 DVD Edition)
Video: 1.85:1 enhanced for 16:9 widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, English/French/Japanese
Extras: 2nd disc is complete soundtrack with original storyboard sketches, Behind the Mike with Dakota and Elle Fanning, Original Japanese Trailer, Opening and Closing Animation without credits
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: *****

This film was my introduction to the magic worlds of animator Miyazaki – who has reached huge new audiences with his recent Spirited Away feature. That was years ago on a poor blurry VHS tape, and it was a pleasure this time to see the gorgeous artwork in a decent resolution widescreen image that could be frozen or stepped at any point. This may be one of the most touching and charming kids’ films ever, and one with a fine message that doesn’t bash the audience over the head as do so many kids’ films.Satsuki and her four-year-old sister Mei move with their oceanographer father to a simple home in the countryside to be near their mother who is in a sanitarium nearby with an unexplained illness. The toll it takes on the children is subtly portrayed. Their lives are suddenly made happier by a large mysterious creature of the forest called a Totoro. He and the other fantastic characters to which he introduces the sisters can only be seen by children.  The favorite character of most kids and adults will surely be the Cat-Bus, a much more interesting creature than Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat. He takes them on amazing journeys, including helping find a lost Mei at one point.

A magical fantasy from beginning to end, with lovely images that could easily stand alone as stills in a wonderful children’s picture book. The English soundtrack is expertly done, as on all the Miyazaki films which Disney is releasing in the U.S. on DVD.  If I had little ankle-biters around I wouldn’t be driven nuts in the least by their watching this DVD over and over – as I understand the practice is for favorite family movies.

- John Sunier




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