There is a ten-year old girl in my church named Amanda, and every time I say the word “Totoro” she lights up. She, like everyone I know who has seen this film, adores Totoro.
I think we have all, at some point, had a Totoro in our lives, someone (or something) we can go back to for us to feel like kids again, and regain our happiness and innocence. Think of “Rosebud” from Citizen Kane, but in Anime.
My Neighbor Totoro is easily one of the best animated family films ever made. It tells the story of two sisters: Satsuki (Dakota Fanning) and her younger sister Mei (Elle Fanning). They are moving to a new home with their father (Tim Daly) as their mother is sick in the hospital. They come across their neighbors, Nanny (Pat Carroll) and her grandson Kanta (Paul Butcher). It is clear, but (and this is a hidden success of the film) not acted upon how their may be potential puppy love between Kanta and Satsuki.
Eventually, the girls (who have one of the best sister relationships in any movie I have seen) meet Totoro, a big fluffy creature who may be the most huggable creature in film history. He is not in the movie all the time, but he is in the movie at the right times, like any great neighbor or friend.
Parents, there is one scene that may seem weird (at least to non-japanese audiences). The two girls take a bath with their dad. There is some rear nudity, but really, nothing bad at all. This truly is the movie to introduce kids (and their parents) to anime.
My only issue with the film is the run time. I would have loved, LOVED, for this film to have gone longer. I would even want a sequel (and it is hard to pull off a good sequel, especially an animated one). As for the animation, it is beyond breathtaking. It shows the world where there is some comedy, some danger, some depression, some heart ache, but all life. It is a film that reflects who we are, and more.
Overall: Five Stars *****