My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – Confluence of fantasy and reality

The anime titled Tonari No Totoro(My Neighbor Totoro) is written and directed by one of Japan’s greatest anime makers Hayao Miyazaki. This movie is one of Miyazaki’s early works, followed by his streak of many well acclaimed and popular animes.
My Neighbour Totoro came out in 1988 along with another iconic anime movie, Grave of the Fireflies. Despite that, My Neighbour Totoro saw great commercial success back then.
Even today, this anime is very popular among Otakus. Later in 2003, a short animated sequel of the movie named “Mei and the Kittenbus”, also come out.

My Neighbor Totoro Plot

My Neighbor Totoro is a story of two young sisters moving to the countryside with their father, where they meet a giant cuddly cat, supposedly a forest spirit, which helps them throughout their hard times.
When the Kusakabe family move to their new house, it was quite outworn. But the sisters, Satsuki and Mei, still liked it very much. The young sisters are super excited to explore the house. But to their surprise, they find out that the house is full of small fuzzy black things. Yet the sisters aren’t intimidated or feel threatened by their presence.
Soot-sprites
They meet the Granny who lives nearby and comes to help them settle down. Granny tells them she used to see the black fuzzy things too when she was at their age. She tells the sisters they are called Soot-sprites, that live in old empty houses.
The next day the sisters go to see their mother at the hospital, and they tell their mother that the house is haunted with soot-sprites, but they seem to like their presence. They come back home excited with the hope of their mother getting better soon.
One day while playing outside, Mei spots two small bunnies-like creatures. She follows them into the forest. Mei ends up at a massive camphor tree in the middle of the forest. Mei tumbles down a hole at the base of the tree and ends up in a den. She finds a big furry bunny-like creature and climbs on top of it and calls it Totoro, and falls asleep on it.
Mei and Totoro
When Satsuki gets home from school, she couldn’t find Mei. Satsuki finds Mei’s hat at the edge of the forest. So Satsuki goes a little way into the forest to search for Mei and finds Mei asleep in a clearing. Mei tells them she saw Totoro, and her father tells her she met a spirit of the forest, and she is a lucky girl.
Found Mei
One day while Satsuki is in school, Mei would not stop crying, so Granny takes her to Satsuki at school. Later that day, it rains heavily. Satsuki and Mei get stuck while coming back from school, so Kanta helps them by giving them his umbrella.
Kanta
Their Dad has to work late that day, and he has forgotten to take his umbrella. So Satsuki and Mei decide to walk down to the bus stop with an umbrella and wait for him.
While they were waiting, the most unexpected thing happened, the big Totoro comes up and stands next to them. Satsuki is amazed to see Totoro for real. She offers Totoro their Dad’s umbrella, Totoro accepts it, and in return, he gives them a pouch of seeds.
Totoro
Cat Bus and Totoro
Totoro goes off in a cat-shaped bus after giving the sisters the seeds. When their Dad’s bus finally arrives, Satsuki is excited to tell her Dad that she saw the big Totoro for the first time.
Satsuki and Mei plant the seeds, but they would not sprout. Satsuki writes about it to her mother. One day Totoro comes into their dreams and helps them sprout those plants, and the next morning they wake up to see the seeds have sprouted.
Totoro sprouting seeds
The girls have a picnic, and Kanta brings them a telegram that asks them to contact mom’s hospital. The girls get anxious, and they end up getting into an argument. Mei gets upset and runs off. Mei takes a piece of corn she picked earlier that day and goes to the hospital on foot. She believes that fresh corn will make her mother better. But she gets lost on the way.
mei
When they notice that Mei is missing. Everyone looks, but no one can find her. Worried Satsuki goes to Totoro’s tree and asks him for help.
Immediately Totoro summons the Cat-bus to find Mei. Cat-bus takes her straight to Mei. Satsuki is so relieved that Mei is safe, they forget their argument completely.
Satsuki and Mei
The Catbus takes them to the hospital to see their mother. They see that their mother is okay, and they leave the corn at the hospital window for their mother and comes back home on the Catbus soothed and happy.
The credits end with their mother gets well and comes home, and they live happily ever after.

My Neighbor Totoro Characters

  • Satsuki: The elder sister who is full of life and responsible at a very young age. She always looks after her sister. She wants to be like her mother when she grows up.
  • Mei: Satsuki’s four years old sister. She is a playful and courageous child. Mei is very close to her sister. Although she remains cheerful on the outside, but she misses her mother. She plays on her own when Satsuki is busy with her school.
  • Mr Kusakabe: Satsuki and Mei’s father. Mr Kusakabe works at the University. He is a good man who loves his wife and children.
  • Mrs Kusakabe: Mother of Satsuki and Mei, a gentle and beautiful woman. She is quite sick, so the whole family has moved to the countryside with the hope of fresh air will make her healthy.
  • Granny: A caring old lady who lives nearby. She helped the Kusakabe family to settle down in their new home, and she also tries to fill in as much as she can in the absence of Mei and Satsuki’s mother.
  • Kanta: Grandson of Granny, who is also a classmate of Satsuki. Kanta is a young and kind boy. He is a bit shy but eventually becomes a good friend of Satsuki.
  • Totoro: A giant furry creature who lives inside the nearby camphor tree. Totoro is a forest spirit that can make trees grow faster, fly and call the cat bus.
  • Cat-bus: Totoro’s special cat-shaped bus. It can move very fast on any terrain. Apart from Satsuki and Mei, no one can see it.

My Neighbor Totoro Trailer

Watch My Neighbor Totoro Netflix

The movie is subject to interpretation. Some can believe it’s a fantasy story, and whatever depicted is happening in reality. And some can argue it’s shown from a perspective of an imaginative child trying to coping up with the change.
However, we are not here to instigate those theories. Rather, we recommend you to watch it for yourself and give it your interpretation. You can let us know what you think in the comments. Also, you can follow us on our social media handles for more reviews like this.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
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