Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hayao Miyazaki Favorites Part Three: My Neighbor Totoro


All this week I'll be blogging about my five favorite animated feature films written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is a Japanese film director, animator, manga artist and screenwriter. He also co-founded Studio Ghibli, one of Japan's most well known animation film studios.

1988's My Neighbor Totoro may be the most adorable animated movie ever made. It's especially enjoyable for families with young children, because its innocence and curiosity mirror the vigorous interest of young minds, but its mystery and underlying themes are sophisticated enough to keep even the most discerning parent entertained. From IMDB:

When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

Totoro is a simple, quiet film, full of adorable spirits, and fabulous creatures, which I find absolutely endearing, even if my friend, Adam, is creeped out by Catbus (follow those links, Adam, you'll love the last one). That said, there are some serious themes at work as well: conservation, the environment, the fear of moving into a new place, and imagination in general.

All in all, I think this quote from Roger Ebert sums it up well: "one of the lovingly hand-crafted works of Hayao Miyazaki ... My Neighbor Totoro is based on experience, situation and exploration—not on conflict and threat ... it would never have won its worldwide audience just because of its warm heart. It is also rich with human comedy in the way it observes the two remarkably convincing, lifelike little girls ... It is a little sad, a little scary, a little surprising and a little informative, just like life itself. It depends on a situation instead of a plot, and suggests that the wonder of life and the resources of imagination supply all the adventure you need."

25 comments:

SA Larsenッ said...

The innocence is gone from a lot of shows, these days. It's nice to hear some have kept it alive. :)

Elena - Adriana Dascalu said...

Must secons SA Larsen. Today children are very exposed to violence. It's sad. That's why world is going in the wrong direction. Parents too busy, Tv violence of all sorts.

JeffO said...

My daughter adores Miyazaki. The films of his I've seen are beautiful to look at, and beautiful in other ways, too.

Natalie Aguirre said...

A story with forest spirits sounds cool.

Can you do me a favor? My Trip to China post will not come up on my blogroll. I've tried posting it as a new post 3 times. Can you shout out about it? Thanks.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I think my boys watched this and liked it. They were really into the anime films. Two are artists. The older went into the more Disneylike animation while the other was all anime.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I wish my kids could watch it. I don't know if it's on any of the channels we get.

Yay, and thanks, Donna. I wanted to use the word anime in my ms, but I blanked on the word. *rushes to write it down*

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It Catbus the big, round character there?

Slamdunk said...

Not familiar with Miyazaki's work Matthew, so thanks for the introduction.

Alexandra Shostak said...

I love Miyazaki! I would go insane talking about which ones are my favorites, but I think I'll wait to see what else you post. ;)

Joe Lunievicz said...

I agree again. This is a quiet, lovely, absolutely magical film. And when I say magical I don't mean Disney magical, but really wondrous (sorry Disney this is the real deal). My son loved this too when we saw it and he was much younger.

Adam Heine said...

My kids love this movie. I think they've watched it more times than the Magic School Bus (at least I hope they have).

And they are not at all scared of the cat bus EVEN THOUGH IT SWALLOWS CHILDREN WHOLE AND TAKES THEM AWAY INVISIBLY IN ITS LUSH AND COMFORTABLE STOMACH.

mshatch said...

I think this is my favorite Miyazaki film. I just love Totoro. I mean, just look at that picture of them standing int he rain. It's priceless! And I adore the catbus!

Mina Burrows said...

My son would love this. I'm going to watch it with him over the weekend. Thanks! :)

Eliza Tilton said...

That sounds kind of creepy...

Christina Lee said...

Well. I am not familiar with this one--so thank you!!!

And, did you change your background colors in this joint or something?

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

I love Roger Ebert's reviews. Did you ever read his obituary for his friend Gene Siskel? It's so touching.

Johanna Garth said...

These are some of my favorite movies I've watched with my kids. There is one that recently came out and I can't remember whether it was from the same director...almost like The Littles, but different. Anyway, we liked that one too :)

Andrew Leon said...

I think it's been too long since I've seen this one. I remember my kids loving it, though.

maine character said...

I just knew the Catbus was going to come up. :-)

Sarah Ahiers said...

Man, i haven't watched Totoro since i was a kid. I really need to pick that up and add it to my collection.
I am ashamed

Allison said...

I love Hayao Miyazaki!! And Totoro was adorable. I watched it in Japanese with a friend who had lived in Japan for a year who could sort of translate. It was a lot of "I think this is what she basically said..." I feel like I missed a lot of what happened. Might have to watch it in English :)

Allison (Geek Banter)

Jan Newman said...

Sounds like a movie I'd love to see with my granddaughter.

Beyond Acadia

Jan at Beyond Acadia

Dani said...

I've never heard of this and sounds super cute or should I say really good. I wonder if my kids would enjoy it?! Thanks for introducing me to something new!!

Elise Fallson said...
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Elise Fallson said...

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