Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices by Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Shigesato Itoi, Hitoshi Takagi
“Great is the man who has not lost his childlike heart.”
If you haven’t discovered the enchanting films of Hayao Miyazaki yet, your eyes and heart have missed something truly wonderful. This is your chance to catch up; at least with this film (Miyazaki has directed 10 feature animated films). The 1988 animated film My Neighbor Totoro was recently released on a two disc special edition by Disney.
Two young girls, Satsuke and her younger sister Mei, move into a house in the country with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother. They soon discover makkuro kurosuke or soot monsters are living in their house. They are fascinated by these strange little creatures. But, that isn’t the end of what they are to discover.
Satsuke and Mei soon discover that the nearby forest is inhabited by magical and benevolent creatures called Totoros. There is a catch: only children can see Totoros. Totoro introduces them to a “cat bus”, a gigantic cat that transports riders through the forest by flying and jumping into the air, landing on trees and scurrying on the ground. He arranges a cat bus ride when Satsuke and Mei long to visit their mother in the hospital.
When Mei goes missing, Satsuke will not only rely on her father, but her new friends to find her sister.
It is simply hard to put into the words the overwhelming feeling of enchantment that Miyazaki captures in this story and in this film. Totoro, discovering the wonderful sound of rain hitting an umbrella is not only a brilliantly subtle scene, but will have you as the viewer looking at this simple experience differently. Totoro lives his life with an open heart and finds magic in the most ordinary of everyday experiences, a lesson we all could learn from him.
The animation style of this film, as in all of Miyazaki’s work, is truly stunning. Utilizing mainly traditional animation style (hand drawn) and even coloring in watercolor, his films have a hand crafted, organic and vibrant feeling missing in many of today’s animated films. Although, Miyazaki would go on to experiment with digital animation elements in his 1997 film Princess Mononoke. But, as of his latest film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2009), Miyazaki said he would be utilizing hand drawn animation exclusively again.
Many of today’s respected animators, including Pete Docter of Pixar (Up, Monsters Inc), Nick Park, David Sproxton and Peter Lord of Aardman Animation Studios ( Wallace and Gromit films, Chicken Run) count Miyazaki’s work as one of their main influences. You will see why after viewing this film.
So, I think you can tell that I love this film and Miyakaki’s work in general. Add this to the collection as fast as you can.
My Neighbor Totoro: Two Disc Special Edition is presented anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is first rate, which is critical when viewing a Miyazaki film as the backgrounds are highly detailed and the graceful movements of the characters. The color palette is vibrant and well represented.
My Neighbor Totoro: Two Disc Special Edition is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with mixes in Japanese, English and French. While I prefer the original Japanese language, the English dub on this film is decent and the audio mix is adequate. There are English, English SDH and French Subtitles. The overall mix, while not the preferred 5.1, is well balanced and respectable.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
My Neighbor Totoro: Two Disc Special Edition is presented in a two disc amaray case with cute little Totoro on the cover.
The disc has several featurettes including The World of Ghibli and Enter the Lands, where we get a closer look at the characters and the story of the film. Behind the Studio where the audience learns the film’s inspiration through documentaries, including an all-new interviews with Hayao Miyazaki Most of this content is new and cannot be found on the film’s previous DVD release, making this set a necessary upgrade for fans. This new material is entertaining and informative and not available on previous releases, so this is the edition to add to the collection. A selection of storyboards is also available.
Overall (Not an Average) 8.5/10
The Movie 10/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (not an average) 5/10