Tonari no Totoro
While their mother (Sumi Shimamoto, Lea Salonga in the dub) is in hospital Satsuki (Noriko Hadaka, Dakota Fanning in the dub) and Mei (Chika Sakamoto, Elle Fanning in the dub) move with their father (Shigesato Itoi, Timothy Daly in the dub) into a new house by an ancient forest. While exploring Mei discovers three Totoro (Hitoshi Takagi, Frank Welker in the dub) - forest keepers/woodland spirits (solid ones) that appear only to children, and who give the girls an adventure they will never forget.
The magical quality of this film comes from its beautiful traditional anime. Today we are used to anime TV series such as Pokémon (1997-), which, although beautifully designed and created, and good entertainment, is very loud and in-your-face, showing the artistic team are too caught up in creating the wow factor. In design Totoro is traditional, old school anime - simply designed, simply shaded, yet bright and colourful colour schemes that are absolutely beautiful to look at, and make such a refreshing change from the contemporary in-your-face style of modern anime. The film's other interesting factor is that it shows us how people lived in traditional 1950s Japan. How they bathe, clean the house and sit to eat is done in what we would consider such a manual and uncomfortable fashion, and it is just such a cultural feeling watching them live in this way.
The film, however, is dragged down by the screenplay. The action drags along with not that much consistency, going from a family at home to adventures in the forest, which results in attention being more difficult to keep. The characters are also generally one-sided, with Satsuki trying to act like an adult constantly, and Mei always mimicking Satsuki, and this one-sidedness gets dull and irritating, meaning that this fairly flawed screenplay is the film's downfall and, in spite of the beautiful anime and interesting lessons in traditional Japanese culture, stops this film from getting at least four stars from this critic.
However, it is still quite an uplifting, heartwarming adventure, so I would say it is definetly worth a viewing, in spite of its flaws.
2005 (English dub).
English, dubbed from Japanese.
Stars (original Japanese): Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Hitoshi Takagi, Shigesato Itoi, Tanie Kitabayashi, Toshiyuki Amagasa, Sumi Shimamoto, Naoko Tatsuka.
Stars (English dub): Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Frank Welker, Timothy Daly, Pat Carroll, Paul Butcher, Lea Salonga.
Mainichi Film Concours: Best Film (Hayao Miyazaki), Ofuji Noburo Award (Hayao Miyazaki).
Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.