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My perennial Miyazaki favorite...
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.