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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Retro Review: My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

My Neighbour Totoro
1988
Genre: Animated Fantasy

Plot: When 2 girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby






'Studio Ghibli Classic That Is Just Magic'

My Neighbour Totoro is a film that has no major characters, no characters, who dominate or overwhelm one another to speak of, but an animated offering from Hayo Miyazaki that truly explores the bond and relationship between a pair of siblings, two sisters and a mysterious creature in Totoro and the role he, or it plays in it. With beautifully rendered artwork and character designs capturing the core essence of the story and movie, the film is free of special effects, melodrama, being overdramatic, bloodshed, characters killing each other, nudity, sex, cursing: elements found in so many other Anime. Instead, there is a genuine attempt at character building, in carving out and creating a story with characters the audience feels for, cares about and of whom they want them to get their happy ending, without a means of manipulating the audience and earning the sympathy vote.

Two sisters, Saskia and her youngest sibling, Mei move into a new home with their father, who is also a university lecturer so they can be nearby the hospital where their mother resides. She is recovering from a long-term illness, Tuberculosis, whilst the main bulk of the film depicts the daily struggles and challenges the girls face, as they come to terms with not just this realisation, but how it affects the sisters' relationship. Mei is a playful, precocious child, who acts like any other 4- year -old and when she discovers strange magical creatures lurking in a forest, she and Saskia head off in ventures that involve so-called ''dust bunnies'', a 12-legged cat bus & a large, furry, big-hearted monster in Totoro.

I like cutesy things when they are not overdone to death it makes me nauseous, and it becomes vomit-inducing. The film remains thoroughly grounded in reality and pleasantness and isn't extravagant in the slightest. & the lack of a genuine human antagonist to challenge the girls, though this may disappoint others, was a nice thing to have. There are scenes of happiness, as well as sadness, of hope and despair and the story's intention is to give its characters hope and to see that through this Totoro character as a symbol of happiness, prosperity and bliss for the girls' lives.

My Neighbour Totoro is so simple & tactful in its execution and a type of animated film that anyone can get into and watch and submerge themselves into, much like with many other Studio Ghibli movies with its delicate approach to mature themes and in such an earnest & simplistic fashion. It tells a tale all right, yet it doesn't resort to flashy effects, explosions, huge musical numbers, action scenes to drum up emotion and attention. Ghibli films are a totally different fare to Disney, Dreamworks and Pixar's affairs, as they delve more into the exploration side of things, both in terms of characters & story and that is a huge welcome to the animation film world, and with My Neighbour Totoro, this is no exception.





Final Verdict: 


Poignant, subtle, but never taking anything for granted and overcomplicating things for the audience to get to grips with, the film takes what is a difficult situation/theme, in the realisation that death is possibly looming on the horizon for the girls' mother, and makes it far less macabre, as well as accessible for people of all ages, without alienating audiences.


But at the same time, Miyazaki successfully carves out a message of hope & optimism out of it as well, in the midst of it all.



Overall:


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