Tuesday, October 2, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *My Neighbor Totoro

Probably the most memorable of all of Miyazaki's movies, this one has become a true legend in the field of animation. This one was done mostly for young children, and it pulls it off wonderfully without being too cheesy or sappy. My Neighbor Totoro is one of thoes anime movies that every otaku must see, like Akira or Ghost In The Shell, not as some kind of oblitagion to proove your "otakuship", but because its one of the living examples of what makes anime great!

Set in the 1950s, a father and his two daughters move into an old house in the Japanese countryside. Their mother is currently sick in the hospital with an unspecified condition. The girls are Satsuki and her younger sister Mei. They discover that their house is haunted(in a friendly way)by some soot-like spirits(who also make an appearance in Spirited Away). Mei also finds two strange bunnylike creatures, and follows them to a much-larger forest spirit who calls himself Totoro. Satsuki doesn't believe her at first, but one night when she and Mei wait for their father at a bus stop during a rainstorm, she's suprised to see Totoro standing next to her. After offering him a spare umbrella, he gives them some seeds, and then gets a ride on a giant cat bus! The girls plant the seeds in their backyard, and Totoro visits them the next night by making them into a huge tree, which is gone by the next morning. Later on, its reported that their mother has taken a turn for the worst, and Mei goes missing trying to get to the hospital. Satsuki searches for Totoro in his lair, who summons the Catbus, and takes her to Mei. They then take the Catbus to go see that their mother has recovered, and then return home.

This movie has seen two releases in English, one through the now totally out of the scene Streamline Pictures, which was picked up by Troma Films(the guys who did Toxic Avenger), and later released on DVD through Fox. But later on, Disney bought most of all the other Studio Ghibli titles, and redubbed it with some celebrity voice-overs, with Dakota Fanning and her sister Elle doing Satsuki and Mai. Weirdly enough, when this movie was released in Japan, it was shown with Grave Of The Fireflies, which is one of most depressing(but still brilliant)anime titles ever, so its more than a little odd to be showing it with this upbeat family movie. Admittedly, the story itself does kinda pace along slowly, and there isn't much of a deep plot to speak of. This is all minor though considering how whimsical and entertaining it is, and for all ages. The impact the movie made has lead to several enviromental campaigns to be carried out in Totoro's name, and there's even a brief cameo of a Totoro doll in the recent Toy Story 3 movie. There's also a short spinoff movie that you can only catch at the Ghibli Museum in Japan. Any animation fan worth his salt is dutybound to seeing this movie as part of their bucket list.

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