My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
February 5, 2020 1:37 AM - Subscribe

Two sisters move to the country with their father in order to be closer to their hospitalized mother, and discover the surrounding trees are inhabited by Totoros, magical spirits of the forest. When the youngest runs away from home, the older sister seeks help from the spirits to find her.
posted by growabrain (22 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
We are plotting a family re-watch this weekend!
posted by pharm at 4:52 AM on February 5, 2020


Mrow mrow mrow mrow mrow mrow mrow CAT BUS
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:14 AM on February 5, 2020 [7 favorites]


This is one of the best movies
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:21 AM on February 5, 2020 [6 favorites]


Weirdly one of the most real feeling movies about having two young daughters. Mine are about the same age spacing as these characters as well.

My kids love the movie but sometimes find the scary bit quite upsetting, I imagine because it seems like something that might actually happen to you. Unlike, say, your village being flooded in a surprisingly sedate natural disaster.
posted by selfnoise at 7:37 AM on February 5, 2020


Fathom Events has a yearly Miyazaki (and friends) "film festival". Usually 8 or so films spread over the year, but usually only one or two dates per film. My son and I try to see as many of them as we can, and always choose the subtitled version. It's just great to see these friends on the big screen, and I would urge anyone to seek them out.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:04 AM on February 5, 2020


Can. Not. Wait. to share this with my little girl. She's not quite old enough now at three and a half. She won't sit through a movie. But man I cannot wait for her to be the perfect age for this. I'll even put up with the dub because she's not going to listen to Japanese dialogue or read subtitles.

(Advice welcomed as to just when you think that age might be.)
posted by Naberius at 8:58 AM on February 5, 2020


when I 1st saw it I thought the marks on totoro's chest would turn out to be extra eyes
posted by brujita at 9:05 AM on February 5, 2020


One of my friends has a large tabby cat named Catbus.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:50 AM on February 5, 2020 [7 favorites]


This was easily my kids' favorite movie from about 3-5 years old. The dub is extremely serviceable, though the way Totoro gets his name (Mei misremembering the Japanese pronunciation of "troll") and a few other Japan-specific references are rendered unrecognizable. I even like the English version of the theme tune, which does much better than other attempts to translate Japanese songs to English.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:53 AM on February 5, 2020


My kids love the movie but sometimes find the scary bit quite upsetting, I imagine because it seems like something that might actually happen to you. Unlike, say, your village being flooded in a surprisingly sedate natural disaster.

In its original Japanese release, it was shown as a double bill with Grave of the Fireflies, which I think we can all agree is quite the contrast in overall tone.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:04 PM on February 5, 2020 [12 favorites]


Wait, they double billed this with Grave of Fireflies ?

Which movie did they show first ?
posted by Pendragon at 12:14 PM on February 5, 2020 [1 favorite]


According to this article (Tor.com) theaters tried it both ways, with the "proper" order eventually settling on Fireflies first, and Totoro second, just so audiences could leave on a happy note.

Neither movie was a big success in the original release, with Totoro only becoming an acknowledged classic a few years later after Ghibli licensed the Totoro characters for a line of popular stuffed toys, a decision which went against all of Miyazaki's anti-merchandising instincts but helped keep the studio running while they were still finding their commercial footing in the late '80s/early '90s.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:38 PM on February 5, 2020 [3 favorites]


Something I didn't realize the first time I saw this film, the makkuro kurosuke ("soot sprites") were not, I think, driven away by the laughter of the kids and their Dad (who were laughing to drive away spirits). Not directly. Makkuro kurosuke are associated with abandoned places, the way we think of cobwebs as symbolizing neglect. The "soot sprites" drifted away because the girls were settling down, the old house was becoming a home, and no longer abandoned, so the "sprites" had no place there anymore.
posted by SPrintF at 3:37 PM on February 5, 2020 [6 favorites]


This was my first Miyazaki, and I loved it from the beginning. I remember being super impressed at how the two girls acted like, well, normal kids. They were just so authentic - I could imagine non-cartoon people acting that way exactly. Something about that still seems special to me.
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:58 PM on February 5, 2020 [6 favorites]


I agree, that's one thing it has over Spirited Away, Chihiro generally acts way more mature than you'd expect for a 4th grader, while Satsuki and Mei are pretty much every bit how you'd expect real kids their age to act.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:27 PM on February 5, 2020 [1 favorite]


To To To Totoro
To To To Totoro
To To To Totoro
To To To To To!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:28 AM on February 6, 2020 [1 favorite]


A rare movie that people find more upsetting the *older* they are. The sick mom and the implications of the sandal floating in the rice paddy sail right over the heads of toddlers but by late elementary school age they’re asking for extra hugs.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:21 AM on February 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


SPrintF: Something I didn't realize the first time I saw this film, the makkuro kurosuke ("soot sprites") were not, I think, driven away by the laughter of the kids and their Dad (who were laughing to drive away spirits).

Ghibli fandom has some additional soot sprite facts, which I forgot from Spirited Away:
One can feed Soot Sprites like how a farmer feeds chickens, throwing handfuls of Kompeitō (a hard Japanese candy) from a bucket onto the ground for them to pick up and eat. The Susuwatari are not seen eating anything else other than kompeitō in the film.
Back to Totoro: the girls' chant in Japanese is ... different from what is in the official English dub (and then copied in the subtitles).
Satsuki: Father, there's something in here.
Father: Squirrels?
Satsuki: I don't know. Not cockroaches, not mice... Black. There were a whole bunch!
Father: Hmmmmm. Hmmmmm....
Satsuki: Well?
Father: It must be "Mak-kuro Kurosuke". (A play on the word black (kuro). Mak-Kuro means pure-black or pitch_black and Kurosuke means Mr. Black or Blackie.)
Satsuki: Mak-kuro Kurosuke? Like the ones in the picture book?
Father: It must be...Ghosts wouldn't be out on a beautiful day like this. When you suddenly enter a dark place from bright sunlight, black spots appear in front of your eyes.
Satsuki: So that's it! MAK-KURO KUROSUKE,
Mei & Satsuki: COME ON OUT! IF YOU DON'T, WE'LL PULL YOU OUT BY YOUR EYEBALLS!!!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:31 AM on February 6, 2020 [3 favorites]


Totoro was one of the first movies we watched with our boys, probably when they were around 2 or 3 years old each. I think it only gets scary when kids are a bit older, and can reflect on some of the experiences depicted in the movie (getting lost, or losing your sibling). Totoro and the soot sprites are all depicted as friendly creatures. For example, when Mei first falls on Totoro, Totoro roars at Mei, and Mei roars back, deflating any concern about Totoro being scary.


Pallas Athena: One of my friends has a large tabby cat named Catbus.

We named our dog Mei, because when we first adopted her, she was full of crazy, nonsensical energy. She's gotten older now, and has mellowed considerably, but this association still makes me smile when she's being a goof.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:37 AM on February 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


There are two songs that every cockatiel seems to be born knowing. One is the Chocobo theme from Final Fantasy. The other is the Totoro theme.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:43 AM on February 6, 2020 [4 favorites]


My oldest (nearly 5) is more into Kiki's Delivery Service, and Ponyo, but he's seen Totoro a few times. He thinks Totoro is a little scary when he roars, so it's not his favorite at the moment.

I'm excited to show it to my daughter when she's a little older. She's a year and a half, and is 100% baby Mei in looks and personality. She also adores animals and anything fluffy, so I think it'll be a natural fit. Every time I watch it I gush over how well Ghibli animates children moving. They get their energy and speed and how they carry themselves just right. Mei trotting back and forth looks so much like my kids running around, it's delightful.
posted by castlebravo at 10:05 AM on February 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


Yeah, my daughter also preferred Kiki, and told me years later she very seriously believed that when she turned 13 she would move to another town to establish herself.

Totoro was my first Ghibli movie. I was in my 30s. It just kills me every time.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:18 PM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


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