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My Neighbor Totoro

From Academic Kids

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My_Neighbor_Totoro_DVD.JPG
DVD case cover for My Neighbor Totoro from the original 20th Century Fox release. The Walt Disney Company has planned a re-release with an new voice cast scheduled in 2005.

My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ - Tonari no Totoro) is a 1988 Japanese animated movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli.

An ani-manga version of My Neighbor Totoro was published in English by Viz Communications starting on November 10, 2004.

Contents

Characters

  • Satsuki Kusakabe - An 11-year-old girl.
  • Mei Kusakabe - Satsuki's 4-year-old sister.
  • Professor Kusakabe - The girls' father.
  • Totoro - There are 3 in the film:
    • King Totoro (Ō Totoro) - The grey, friendly forest spirit who is the largest of the three (at least 3 meters tall); when someone says "totoro", they are usually referring to him. Mei has a habit of mispronouncing things. She tried to say "tororu", the Japanese word for troll. Ō in that case means "large" but the English dub calls that Totoro "King Totoro".
    • Medium Totoro (Chū Totoro) - The blue, medium-size (about 60 centimeters tall) one who looks very similar to King Totoro.
    • Small Totoro (Chibi Totoro) - The white, smallest (about 20 centimeters tall) one who can become invisible.
  • Kanta - A preteen boy of their village, ambivalent towards Satsuki.
  • "Granny" - Kanta's grandmother, who sometimes takes care of the girls.
  • Catbus or Nekobasu - A bus resembling a cat, or better, a cat that is a bus.

Plot

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1totoro.jpg
My Neighbor Totoro.

The movie is a slow-moving yet fascinating portrayal of Japanese rural life. A university professor and his two daughters move into an old house near a forest, while his wife recovers from tuberculosis in a nearby hospital. His daughters discover "soot sprites" (or makkurokurosuke), which they believe are dust bunnies.

While Mei is chasing a small Totoro, it leads her to find some forest spirits that Mei names Totoro. Not everyone can see the spirits of the forest, only the pure of heart. Four-year-old Mei is enchanted with them and determined to find the king of the forest. One rainy night, while the girls are waiting for a bus, they encounter the giant King Totoro who is looking rather forlorn with only a leaf for protection against the rain. When the old girl gives him her umbrella, he's delighted at the both the shelter and the sounds it makes as water hits it. This begins a series of encounters as the spirits allow the children to partake in their nightly activities.

When Mei later gets lost while trying to bring an ear of healthy corn to her mother at the hospital, her older sister Satsuki runs everywhere searching for her, finally seeking King Totoro's help. He is delighted to be of assistance, and with his help Mei is quickly found.

The movie features the Catbus, a grinning feline bus summoned by Totoro which whisks Mei and Satsuki over the countryside to see their mother in hospital. When the cat bus finally leaves them its body fades into the evening shadows, leaving only its broad grin, in the manner of Lewis Carroll's Cheshire cat.

Trivia

  • The name Totoro is Mei's mispronunciation of "tororu", Japanese for troll, which she saw in a story book and decided was the same kind of creature.
  • The large Totoro has become a mascot for Studio Ghibli, gracing the studio's logo at the start of their films.
  • My Neighbor Totoro was released as a double feature with Grave of the Fireflies, because it was considered that it (Totoro) would not be successful.
  • The Cat Bus originates from the Japanese belief that if a cat grows old enough it gains magical shape-changing powers and is called a "bake neko". The Cat Bus is a bake neko that saw a bus and decided to become one.
  • Satsuki and Mei's mother's implied suffering from spinal tuberculosis is somewhat autobiographical, as Hayao Miyazaki's mother suffered from the same illness.
  • Ken Jennings, the winningest contestant in the history of the TV game show Jeopardy!, carries a small plush "Totoro" figure in his pocket for good luck.
  • Satsuki and Mei were both born in the month of May. Satsuki is the old Japanese name for the month of May, and Mei's name comes from the English name.

Credits

Direction, Original Story & Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Production: Studio Ghibli
Executive Producer: Yasuyoshi Tokuma
Producer: Toru Hara

External links

es:Mi vecino Totoro fr:Mon voisin Totoro ja:となりのトトロ th:โทนาริ โน โต๊ะโตะโระ zh:龙猫

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