My Neighbor Totoro

Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film follows the two young daughters of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. The art director was Kazuo Oga, who was drawn to the film when Hayao Miyazaki showed him an original image of Totoro standing in a satoyama (foothills). Oga’s was recognized as ‘updating the traditional Japanese animist sense of a natural world that is fully, spiritually alive.’ ‘Set in a period that is both modern and nostalgic, the film creates a fantastic, yet strangely believable universe of supernatural creatures coexisting with modernity. A great part of this sense comes from Oga’s evocative backgrounds, which give each tree, hedge and twist in the road an indefinable feeling of warmth that seems ready to spring into sentient life.’ Oga’s style became a trademark style of Studio Ghibli.

As is the case with Disney’s other English dubs of Miyazaki films, the Disney version of Totoro features a star-heavy cast, including Dakota and Elle Fanning as Satsuki and Mei, and Timothy Daly as Mr. Kusakabe. ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ helped bring Japanese animation into the global spotlight, and set its writer-director Hayao Miyazaki on the road to success. The film’s central character, Totoro, is as famous among Japanese children as Winnie-the-Pooh is among British ones.

 

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