ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Film Review: My Neighbor Totoro

Updated on November 26, 2015
Film Frenzy profile image

Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 1988 Hayao Miyazaki released My Neighbor Totoro, based on an original screenplay written by Miyazaki as well. Starring Noriki Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Shigesato Itoi, Sumi Shimamoto, Hitoshi Takagi, Toshiyuki Amagasa Tanie Kitabayashi, and Naoki Tatsuta with Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, Frank Welker, Paul Butcher, and Pat Carroll providing English voices, the box office numbers for the initial Japanese release is unknown. Nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Genre Video Release, it won the Kinema Junpo Awards for Best Film and Reader’s Choice Award – Best Japanese Film, the Mianichi Film Awards for Best film and Ofuji Noburo Award, the Blue Ribbon Award Special award and the Animage Anime Award Grand Prix Prize.


Mei and Satsuki travel to rural post-war Japan to live in the country with their father, Professor Kusakabe, to be closer to the hospital where their mother is recovering from an illness. Alongside the usual moving problems, Mei encounters a creature in her backyard and pursues. Her chase leads her to the forest spirit Totoro.


Very well-made and fun to watch, My Neighbor Totoro is an incredibly cute and heartwarming film that was interestingly shown second following Grave of the Fireflies. And everything in this movie is an excellent antitheses to the other. Much of it revolves around the nature and character of Totoro. Despite his huge size and loud roar, he is every bit as caring and gentle as he looks. Take when Mei is missing and Satsuki is in full-tilt panic about finding her and seeks Totoro out. Not only does he seem incredibly eager to be of help, but he wasn’t in any way disturbed about a frightened human girl waking him up and asking for his help. There’s also when the girls are waiting for their father at the bus stop and Totoro just shows up next to them. His reaction to the discovery that either it shields his head from rain, or his realization that he enjoys the sound of it hitting the umbrella, is incredibly cute. Not only does he jump hard enough that all the rain on the trees falls, but when that’s gone, he knocks all the rain out of the sky.

And being able to knock all the water from the sky is an interesting power that Totoro has as a nature spirit. But as a whole, Totoro’s work as a forest spirit is an interesting sight throughout the film. Another instance is after Mei and Satsuki plant the acorns and anxiously wait for them to sprout, he shows up and the girls see him making the seeds do their thing. But when the girls come out, he gives them the time of their lives by sprouting a giant tree. However, it’s fascinatingly ambiguous as to whether or not the girls were imagining said tree as the next morning, the tree is gone and all that’s there is the tiny sproutlings. The film is just as much an example of the character and nature of Totoro as it is about the girls’ imaginations.

Notable, though, is how the film is named after Totoro, but he really only shows up sporadically throughout it. But that furthers the magic surrounding the character as the audience is constantly hearing about him and what he does. It fosters a feeling of enjoyment when he does make an appearance to see just what he’s going to do next. And every time he comes on screen, it turns into a highlight of the film.

It’s also compelling to see that the soot sprites and totoros aren’t seen by any of the adult characters in the film. It could be that that they don’t want to be seen by them or that it’s because the adults are too old to see them. But even though he can’t see them, the girls’ father doesn’t show any signs that he doesn’t believe anything the girls say and he isn’t angry at all when they don’t have his umbrella.

As far as the human characters go, Mei is as cute as Totoro is in her own special way. Take her chasing the soot sprites and having her attention diverted by the smaller totoro, which she follows and gets lost in the woods. It’s how she eventually meets the titular Totoro and it’s quite cute to see her try to wake him up and then fall asleep on his chest.

5 stars for My Neighbor Totoro

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)