My Neighbor Totoro
Hayao Miyazaki's children's classic, My Neighbor Totoro, is probably one of the most therapeutic movies I've ever seen. It's just so serene, so soothing, so comforting; definitely a feel-good movie if there ever was one.
The plot itself takes a back seat to the wonder and magic of the movie. Two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, move to the country with their father and set out on a quest of adventure and discovery. The viewer spends a lot of time sharing in the discoveries the two girls make and it doesn't take long before they meet up with a couple of rather bizarre creatures called Totoros. The Totoros themselves can probably best be described as a cross between a bunny rabbit and a teddy bear. There's also another strange design in the form of a bus/Cheshire cat. Naturally, these odd creatures can only be seen by children, adding to the magical nature of the story.
The mood of Totoro perfectly captures what it's like to be a child, the world ripe for discovery. I actually was able to think back to my own youth, when exploring my own backyard yielded some amazing discoveries. The art, animation, and sound effects truly enhance the countryside vista and make it come alive.
And just because this movie is oriented towards a children's audience, don't think it can't be enjoyed by adults as well. It makes a nice little nostalgia trip for anyone who grew up in a country-like setting. And for anyone who has spent their entire life in a city and hasn't seen the country, this might encourage a trip to a more serene and peaceful environment.
As I mentioned before, the technical qualities bring life to this movie. The background artwork is meticulously detailed and contains some beautiful renderings of the countryside. The character animation is very smooth and nicely detailed as well. The aural components are also a nice touch and enhance the mood even further. I doubt anyone could find fault with this movie's presentation.
Unless you're the type that only watches anime for blood, guts and titillation, then My Neighbor Totoro should be a delightful experience.
The Verdict: * * * * (good)
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