My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) is a heartwarming story by one of the best anime studios in Japan, Ghibli Studios. The movie was written and directed by one of Ghibli Studio’s best – Hayao Miyazaki. My Neighbor Totoro was originally released in Japan in 1988, but was bought by Disney and released in the United States in 2006.
The movie is set in the 1950’s, when a professor and his two daughters, Mei Kusakabe and Satsuki Kusakabe move from their current home to a very old house in order to be closer to their ailing mother. The young girls (Satsuki is about 10 and Mei is about 5), immediately start to see strange things in the house, including little dust sprites flitting about the house. It is when Mei goes outside that things really start to get surprising. Outside the home, near a Camphor tree is a large being, which Mei starts to call Totoro. Totoro is a sweet spirit, or guardian, that, despite his huge size and large voice, is very friendly to both of the girls.
Satsuki first meets Totoro when it is pouring rain out and she and her sister are waiting for their father to arrive home on the bus he takes every night. Totoro is there, holding a little leaf over his head. Satsuki, feeling sorry for Totorro, gives him her umbrella. Totoro gets extremely excited and gives both of the girls tons of gifts in return, in the form of nuts and seeds.
The girls plant their seeds and wait for them to grow, but it is not until a few nights later, the girls awaken to see Totorro dancing around the seeds. The seeds start to magically grow and Totorro and the girls have a mystical evening. The next morning, when the girls wake up in their beds, the seeds have started to sprout, but are not the size they were the night before. Totorro and the girls have one more adventure involving the girls’ mother before the end of the movie. This touching movie is not only for children, but for anybody who want to enjoy an anime without blood, violence or confusing plot lines.
It is interesting to note that Totoro has since become the mascot for Studio Ghibli. This is a way that Studio Ghibli honors My Neighbor Totoro as one of the first, and best, animated motion pictures.