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on September 10, 2016
The first release of this movie is truly a masterpiece. If you can get that release/version you will not be disappointed. However, I am at a loss for words. This is the 3rd copy of Tottoro that I've owned. The previous were the original, Japanese with English subtitles, and the initial release in the US. This last version is totally remastered. Different voices for all of the characters. Completely different script. The initial magic of the movie is lost. The original was set in the past with an appropriate vernacular and cultural reference, The current version brings the reference to a modern vernacular which removes the more simplistic life of the setting of the movie. They even changed the japaneses with english sub titles version. The environmental sounds are much improved, however. Disappointed is a huge understatement. Does anyone know which is the best version of the original that is dubbed in English?
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on December 10, 2015
When they talk about the classic Miyazaki that almost everybody likes, this is the one people point to...
It's not a controversial film like Princess Mononoke, The Wind Rises, or (to a lesser extent) Howl's Moving Castle are.
It's just a sweet little film that's inoffensive and very, very creative.
The title character is one of the weirder creatures you'll see on film but is very endearing. I think many people in Japan probably bought a Totoro plush doll as their first plush doll! He certainly has become the symbol/mascot of Studio Ghibli just as Spider-Man and Mickey Mouse are the corporate symbols of Marvel Comics and Walt Disney Company respectively.
I don't see anything offensive in this film and frankly don't understand the problem some people might have with the bathing scene in the movie. Likewise, the business of the mother being in the TB ward/sanitarium shouldn't really be something that keeps young kids from watching this film. Honestly, Bambi has more trauma than anything I've seen in this movie!
If you have small kids or are going to start a Ghibli film collection, this is definitely the film to get or start with...

P.S. -- I've seen both the Disney and Troma Films/Carl Macek-supervised English dubs of "My Neighbor Totoro." I frankly didn't understand why Disney did a new dub for the film but it's their money at any rate. The Disney home video release is better simply because the film is in proper aspect ratio and not cropped like the earlier Fox Video release with the original English dub. The Macek dub is actually one of the better dubs the late producer supervised and it's kind of a shame it's not available in the States on anything but the OOP Fox Video releases (VHS, laserdisc, and DVD).

P.S. P.S. -- The older daughter in the film (on the original Japanese audio track) is voiced by Noriko Hidaka who is best known (in the West) as the original Japanese voice of Akane Tendo in the Ranma 1/2 anime series. She also voiced the character Noriko in the Gunbuster OVA series.
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on August 14, 2016
BOTTOM LINE: One of the all-time greatest family films ever made. Period. Its easy-going storytelling is so engrossing and captivating that you're left wanting it to go on much longer than it does. Wonderful entertainment for anyone & everyone. A crown jewel for animation fans. Better than ever here in hi-def. Don't wait. Buy yourself a copy today. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is pure motion picture magic.

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.
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on October 4, 2016
To most people they know this animated movie because of some iconic scenes but haven't actually seen the movie. I gave this movie a four because while I do love it (personally a five star movie) I also believe that most adults or even some young adults whow havent seen it before will not enjoy it. They will consider this movie about two young girls on acid. For many this movie is great because of the nostalgia but I honestly still think it's a good movie. It's also nice to show this movie to kids today, that way they can see how much fun they can have if they go outside to play....
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 ?
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on November 13, 2015
This has the usual 10-15 minutes of advertising preceding every play. You can skip forward after the Disney logo but there is no easy way to get to the main feature. This is a bad practice that Disney should abandon: the disk should start at the menu where you can pick what to watch. This is a movie that will outlast the promotional content and be watched many times. Forcing children to watch ads for Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast is wrong: make them opt-in not opt-out.

I first knew the 20th Century Fox version of this movie and loved it. Sadly the Disney redub falls far short of the quality of the rest of the movie. The saving grace of the deluxe edition is that it has the Japanese soundtrack and you can turn on the English subtitles. I would recommend watching that over the English dubbed version. Interestingly the old version used DVDs sell at a 500%-1000% premium to the new Disney version.

I will blame Disney for the desecration of this masterpiece. Many criticize the actors but ultimately they are following a script and a director paid for by Disney. The subtlety, sensitivity and innocence of the movie are not matched by the performances of this cast. I don't speak Japanese so I cannot judge whether the script is true to the original. However it does not ring true to what you see on screen. Having heard the earlier dub and read the English subtitles I feel those are truer to the story told by the animation.

It also feels like they were trying too hard to Americanize a Japanese movie. I loved seeing a glimpse of Japanese culture and tradition. It might seem odd or different but to an American it should be.

Oh and the Cat Bus - so sad to hear a timid "meow" when you are expecting MRAOOOOWRRRR! He's a deity of the forest not a house cat! Just another marker of poor direction: underplaying the outrageous and overplaying everything else.

The movie itself is 5 stars. The Disney "value added" features bring it to 1 star. It's worth getting but go with the Japanese track + English subtitles if you do.
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on February 12, 2017
This really is a movie for all ages. One of the best for small children. It was my daughter's favorite movie when she was four and she still refers to it today. It's one of my favorites, too. All of Miyazaki's films are magical; the animation beautiful and his color palate unmatched.
There are two U.S. versions of Totoro: this version, which has lots of extras and movie stars reading the parts, and an earlier version distributed by Fox, which had anonymous readers and no extras. There is a slight difference in the translation, however, and we found the Fox version to be a bit better in that respect.
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on February 27, 2017
My Neighbor Totoro:
4 stars

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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on February 15, 2018
This was a great movie. I knew nothing about it except the reviews so I didn't know what to expect. There were no bad parts in the movie so my daughter isn't afraid to watch it over and over again. It is peaceful so she can fall asleep to it. It is entertaining so she wsnts to watch it many times. I like it so much and she does too that we have looked for a part 2 but we couldn't find one so we are thinking of trying other movies by the same person. It helps her with her manners too. The children are well-behaved and it encourages her to want to help out and clean up after herself. She wants to be like the little girl in the movie. It is hard to find a movie without scary or negative parts. This is a keeper.
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on July 18, 2015
Totoro is one of my favorite movies- and I am 32. I stumbled across it when my first child was a toddler, someone at the indie movie store I go to recommended it as I really like Miyazaki.

The OLDER dubbed version is MUCH better. I was surprised at how much difference the newer dubs and Disney "updates" would make, but Disney really made it worse. The old version is a solid 5 stars and I have absolutely no complaints with it whatsoever. The newer version has different music in some parts, like they made it more modern, but the classic, simple music of the old Totoro was much more pleasant. Also some of the imagery seems to be more flashy and Disney-fied, which I can't understand because Studio Ghiblhi (sorry I am a terrible speller!) produced such beautiful, picturesque backgrounds that did not need any changes.

My main gripe is the new dubs though. The older dubs, the sisters in particular, were perfect. Sweet, innocent, adorable voice. Not whiny or annoying. I am sorry but the Fanning sister were not a good choice. Both of their voices are grating to my ears- a bit too high pitched, nasaly, and like they are forcing an immature tone to sound younger that comes across as unnatural and whiny rather than young and innocent. Also the Fanning sisters' voices sound very similar, so it is kind of confusing since the characters are a good 5 or 6 years apart in age.

Also Disney changed some of the dialogue. The original version the dialogue was perfect and I suppose Disney tried to take it up a notch, probably to appeal to "today's audience" and for whatever reason Disney thinks kids want dumbed down, over simplified language and of course calling each other degrading names and using negative language to get a point across. Ok, ok- it is certainly toned down compared to so many kid's movies on the market, but I preferred the language in the original movie much more, it was subtle yet expressive and there was nothing to raise an eyebrow and you would feel comfortable showing it to even the most impressionable toddler. I have high standards for what I show my children, especially when they are young. All they need to do is see it one time in a movie and they repeat it incessantly- so I wish movies would stick to things we don't mind our kids repeating.

BOTTOM LINE- the original is so much better, and worth hunting it down on eBay or what have you and yes, even paying $25 for (and I am a total tight wad!). This is a beloved classic that your kids (and you) will watch over and over again, so invest in the better Ghibli version. Even if you don't have kids, you will appreciate the subtle genius of Miyazaki's original english dubbed version so much more!
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on January 1, 2015
The BD up-scaling on these Ghibli films is truly remarkable! Disney wants our money and possibly our souls, but they really put a lot of work into these releases.

The name-brand stars in the English dubs don't do anything special for me, I generally don't know who they are anyway. The quality of the translations is generally fairly good, and I really can't praise the image quality enough -- you would never believe that some of these films are more than 20 years old. Side-by-side with freshly-inked anime, the colors are sharp and vibrant with almost no digital noise, and the quality of the animation really shines through.

I have one minor gripe with this movie, and that's the choice to re-dub the image songs into English. They were simple ditties in the first place, and somehow they seem terribly childish in my native tongue. I prefer some of the later movies where Disney has chosen to leave the original Japanese songs in place for titles.
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