My Neighbor Totoro Review


Photo Couresty of The Verge

Totoro, Mei and Satsuki sit on a branch and fish for crawdads. This art was created for “My Neighbor Totoro.”

Lillian Bittle, Writer/Editor

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio founded by Hayao Miyazaki (director, screenwriter and animator), Toshio Suzuki (producer), Isao Takahata (director) and Yasuyoshi Tokuma (executive producer). I’ve seen most films by Studio Ghibli such as “Spirited Away,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” Each one is stunning, but one of my favorite movies since childhood has been “My Neighbor Totoro.”


“My Neighbor Totoro” is a film that focuses around Mei and Satsuki Kusakabe, two sisters moving into a new house with their father. The house is closer to their mother, who is recovering in a hospital from a long-term illness. The house the Kusakabe’s move into is old and run down and is thought to be haunted by ghosts. After meeting their neighbor, Granny, 10-year-old Satsuki and four-year-old Mei learn that their house isn’t haunted, but instead surrounded by forest spirits and soot sprites. Mei and Satsuki meet one of these spirits, Totoro, and throughout the film their kindness towards the spirits is repaid. 


“My Neighbor Totoro” is not only amazing, but the art that is used to portray the story is magical. Miyazaki creates animation and art that conveys a warm and vibrant world. Especially in “My Neighbor Totoro,” the movements and colors used to give life to both the environment and spirits living within creates an ethereal aspect to the film. 


Music adds another layer to each frame of this film. Joe Hisaishi created the soundtrack for “My Neighbor Totoro.” Every song brings to life its own scene, but overall the music portrays adventure and the joys of being a child. 


Adding charm to the film are the designs of the characters, involving colors and fluid outfits that allows for them to express their personalities and fit into their role within the film. For example, Mei and Satsuki have such happy energy and embody the carefree, wondrous mind of a child. To go along with their energy, they wear flowy dresses with bright colors. 


Another aspect that I love about this movie is how much I can relate to the character, Mei. Throughout the entire film, Mei claims to not be scared of things. For instance, she says she’s not scared of soot sprites or to sleep alone at night. Everytime she is given the opportunity to show her bravery, she does. But when it comes down to it, Mei realizes that she can’t always be independent and that it’s ok to show weakness. In the same sense, Mei and I relate because we don’t want to be burdens to others and we would like to do things ourselves. 


I also feel that I have the same sisterly bond with my own sister as Mei does with Satsuki. In the film, Mei imitates a lot of the things Satsuki says and does. While I might have done that when I was younger, nowadays I tend to look up to my sister for advice or to help me understand things.  

To sum it up, I would give the film a five out of five.