My Neighbor Totoro
DVD + Blu-ray
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Disney presents a Studio Ghibli film about the magic of friendship and sisterhood from Academy Award®-winning director Hayao Miyazaki (Best Animated Feature, 2001, Spirited Away). Celebrate the 25th anniversary of My Neighbor Totoro – available for the first time on Disney Blu-ray, with a new HD digital transfer and perfect picture and sound!
Follow the adventures of Satsuki and her four-year-old sister Mei as they discover their new neighbor is a mysterious forest spirit named Totoro who can only be seen by the eyes of a child. As Totoro introduces the girls to his extraordinary friends, they embark on the journey of a lifetime. Featuring the voice talents of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning, My Neighbor Totoro is an amazing animated adventure the whole family will fall in love with.
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THE STORY: In the 1950's, a young husband and his two precocious daughters are relocating to a quiet rural community to get away from the hustle & bustle of big city life. They're still close enough for Dad to commute to his teaching job at a local university, and for the girls to be close to their mother (who's slowly recovering from tuberculosis at a nearby hospital). The wide open countryside is filled all kinds of amazing discoveries for the two city girls: there's a big house that will need lots of TLC to be turned from a house into a home, a new school & new friends to meet. But most amazingly of all... finding that the nearby woods is inhabited by a magical forest spirit, a huge, fuzzy, lovable creature named Totoro.
THOUGHTS: MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is one of those films that doesn't really have a particular plot that's simple or easy to describe. Like so much of the best things in life this film isn't a destination, it's a journey. It's not about what happens so much as how it happens. I first rented this years ago at a video store, not knowing anything about the film. It was my first Miyazaki film, but not my first anime' - so I had some preconceived notions of what to expect. I couldn't have been more wrong, or more delighted. I was spellbound watching the story unfold, enchanted by the incredibly detailed designs of the backgrounds, the absolutely beautiful scenery. It was so richly detailed that it was hard to believe it was hand drawn animation. And the various human characters were so warm and real that I felt like I was watching people I'd known while growing up. The slow-paced nature of TOTORO may be a drag to some, but I think it's one of this film's greatest strengths. It defies traditional anime' expectations in the absolute best possible way. What a wonderful change from the frenzied style of AKIRA, ROBOTECH, and other such action-filled product. They're fine, but TOTORO, in its charming, disarming, summer lazyday way is equally impressive. Young or old, any viewer with a connection to his or her inner child should be totally enthralled watching this wonderful tale unfold. It's definitely my favorite Miyazaki film, my favorite anime' by far, and one of my very favorite animated films of all time, ever. It's right up there the beloved Golden Age classics from Disney or the modern greats from Pixar, and Warner's IRON GIANT.
THE BLU-RAY: Disney's hi-def release of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, as with their other Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli product, is a strong one. As clean & crisp as you're likely to get for this film. Detail is impressive and the muted color scheme is well-represented. No artifacting, pixelation, edge enhancement or crush (video noise) that I could detect. Soundmix was even and solid. The dubbing job is top notch as well. Bonus features are well-produced and cover much of the world of Hayao Miyazaki & Studio Ghibli; detailing his life, the history of the studio and the particulars behind the creation of this film. Good stuff. If you have this on DVD it's a marginal recommend for double-dipping. If you don't then by all means buy this Blu-ray/DVD combo - and give the DVD to a friend that doesn't yet have a Blu-ray player.
Getting back on track, it can easily give any Disney movie a run for its money with lovable characters, a well developed back story for the family, and the perfect amount of "magic". The magic is only seen through the children, and without getting too much into a debate about if totoro was real or not, we all understand how it felt to see things as a child and then when we told our parents they didn't believe us.
This is a movie I highly recommend for anyone who wants to show their kids a fun movie with multiple positive messages like the environment, creativity, gender equality, and basically being a kid.
Come on who doesn't like a movie that brings you back to your childhood ?
What I thought I was going to be watching:
I’ve watched most all of the Studio Ghibli films, with Howl’s Moving Castle probably being my favorite. This film was one of the later films I watched, so I knew going into watching this that I would enjoy the style and characters. I knew there would probably be a focus on nature and our connection to and interaction with it. I didn’t know, though, how kid-friendly this would be, as in would it be more like Ponyo or Princess Mononoke?
What I actually watched:
The actual film focuses on two sisters exploring their new home and encountering seemingly magical creatures in the forest. The characters were, as always, adorable and visually interesting (the cat bus was a real visual treat). The animation was beautiful, as you can expect with Ghibli films. The story line, however, was a bit simple. After finishing the film, I felt that not much had happened (I felt the same way after watching Ponyo). This film is definitely more in a kid-friendly, G-rated, kind of realm than many of the other Ghibli films.
What to expect:
Expect a light-hearted film with stunning animation, quirky characters, and a pointed focus on our connection with nature. Don't expect a particularly complex plot line.
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