Boarding Now: Catbuses to Spirit Worlds
This is the movie that really started it all for Japanese anime as a worldwide phenomenon: Tonari no Totoro (“My Neighbor Totoro”). Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and released in April 1988, it became the flagship of Studio Ghibli and can be found on lists of the most popular, the most iconic and simply the best movies and animations of all time. The title character, Totoro, was quickly incorporated into the studio’s logo and its popularity in Japan can be compared to Mickey Mouse or Winnie–the–Pooh in the Western world. Totoro has made cameo appearances in other movies outside of Studio Ghibli.
A period piece, set in 1950’s Japan, the story takes place in a region called “Satoyama,” denoting an area between the mountain foothills and the flat terrains, suitable for villages and farms. It’s not the only Ghibli movie to be located in a satoyama region — and together with other animations, it brought much needed attention to these regions, even prompting conservation movements on their behalf.
Two young girls, Mei and Satsuki, move to the countryside with their father to be closer to a hospital where their mother is recovering after an unspecified illness. Upon entering the old, long–vacant house for the first time, the sisters encounter Susuwatari — soot spirits. Since Susuwatari live only in abandoned buildings, they soon depart to find a new home. The next day, Mei spots two smaller “Totoro” spirits in the garden, and follows the magical rabbit–eared creatures back to their home in a camphor tree in a briar patch. Inside the tree, the giant Totoro is roaring–snoring in his sleep.
One night, the girls await their father’s bus in the rain. Satsuki finally sees Totoro when he appears at the bus stop. She offers him her umbrella. He is delighted by the sound the raindrops make on the umbrella. A cat-shaped bus (“Nekobasu the Catbus”) stops and Totoro boards it, keeping the umbrella. The girls’ father finally arrives in a normal bus.
This is the third movie with its soundtrack composed by Joe Hisaishi, the first being Nausicca. Hisaishi became a frequent visitor to the studio and worked on scores for many of their other films, including the last of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, The Wind Rises. His soundtrack in My Neighbour Totoro perfectly suits the atmosphere, adding to the nostalgic feeling evoked by the usually fondly described times between the old rural Japan and the head–long rush into modern technology.
Something I particularly love about this movie is the attention to the details, and I don’t mean just the backgrounds or the character design. My favorite scene is the night the small Totoro spirits and the girls perform a dance to grow a huge tree out of seeds that the big Totoro gave to Mei and Satsuki at the bus stop as a “thank you” for the umbrella. The sprouts entangle to combine into an enormous tree within a moment — and the whole growth looks exactly like a nuclear explosion, making a brilliant point in elevating creation and health in a magical and majestic fashion while at the same time condemning the wanton destruction and long aftermath of disease in the wake of the actual nuclear blasts. This is a powerful recurrent theme strongly entwined into every Studio Ghibli production.
In 2003, the studio released a short animation following Mei’s adventures and featuring two Catbuses, a kitten and its granny, with the latter voiced by Hayao Miyazaki himself. It wasn’t released to home video but is regularly shown at the Ghibli Museum.
Tonari no Totoro is in the top 3 of my all time favorite Hayao Miyazaki movies. It oozes positivity and makes the watcher smile, uplifts with its cuteness and, as always, it’s a treat for the eye with the traditionally painted backgrounds and well animated characters, each with their personal features. Absolutely recommended for watching any time, especially when you need something to lift you out of your blues and make you feel better.
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Please join depthRADIUS in welcoming TimberClipse (a.k.a. Zev) as a new and hopefully continuing movie reviewer as well as reporter on film generally and the deviantART film community specifically. Zev’s qualifications include his having had his short film directorial efforts chosen as official selections at several prestigious showcases including the Austin Film Festival.
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It is with great pleasure we welcome BrianKesinger as a guest writer to the Today Page Editorial Team. Considering his authentic citizenship within the deviantART community, his thoughts and insights will be of great value to all aspiring artists, illustrators, writers and others involved in any creative endeavor. For over 18 years, Brian has worked for Walt Disney Studios on films like Big Hero 6, Winnie the Pooh, Tarzan, Tangled, Wreck It Ralph
Pursuit of a Dream
Leia em Português|
Trekking at Sunset
by MetaWorks, JoeyVazquez, sanjun
Felipe Cagno’s Long Journey to “The Lost Kids: Seeking Samarkang.”
Many deviants know well…
…“The Lost Kids: Seeking Samarkand”, the 200+ pages graphic novel written and created by Brazilian storyteller FelipeCagno.
What few know is the story of how it took him almost a decade to bring this story to the public between script re–writes, p