My Neighbor Totoro: Hayao Miyazaki and The Heart-Warming Tale From Studio Ghibli

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

A Little Movie Synopsis

The story starts with a university professor named Tatsuo Kusakabe and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, who is currently moving into a new house in the countryside, located near a forest. Their mother is sick and currently being treated in a hospital near their new home. The empty house was inhabited by tiny creatures called susuwatari — a small, dark, dust-like house spirits — who left to find another empty house.

Personal Favorite Scenes

There is one of the film’s most iconic scenes that I love the most. It’s a scene where the two girls are waiting for their dad at a bus stop in the rain. The scene clocks in at almost seven minutes, which is a significant amount of time in a movie that’s just under an hour and a half long. It’s an especially long time to spend on a scene with minimal dialogue. The length communicates the scene’s importance to the audience. The tense silence, combining with the pouring rain, the increasing darkness, and the loss of hope as vehicles pass by without their dad; add up to a sinking sense of dread. It’s just as if the scene tries to communicate Satsuki and Mei’s fear of uncertainty, as their dad is missing in action and their mom is sick.

A Fantasy and A Reminder

There’s a reason why My Neighbor Totoro can be enjoyed by audiences from almost all range of age. For children, it feels like diving deep into the world of fantasy and imagination. For adults, it brings this nostalgic feeling of childhood and its innocence. However for me personally, it acts as a reminder about nature — a new perspective of countryside living — how to live in harmony between nature and the creatures living inside, how to not give into despair, and how to be patient as well as hopeful when things didn’t go the way we want. A reminder that it’s okay to be like a child sometimes, to be loud and let our feelings out, and to not suffer in silence like a grown-up would.

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Movie Review

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A wandering soul who is always dreaming, both figuratively and literally.

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