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Goo-oogle!

Favorite Scene
I have to say the giant totoro underneath a huge leaf by the bus stop. He's standing there as if he does that everyday. Then the neko bus resembling the Cheshire cat arrives with its bushy tail---they're so darned cute!

My Neighbor Totoro
Synopsis | Review

The first Studio Ghibli movie that I've watched was Princess Mononoke. I haven't noticed the opening scene that flashed the words "Studio Ghibli" presents and the outline of a fat critter on the background. But I did notice it on my second Studio Ghibli movie (The Cat Returns) and I've wondered where the critter came from. I was enlightened after watching My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro), and from then on, Totoro (the critter that is the signature of Studio Ghibli) became a favorite anime character...errr, creature.

I wasn't expecting much from My Neighbor Totoro. After all, with kids as stars of the story, it's bound to be a kid's anime the likes of Pokemon. Then again, Totoro is just so cute, so what the heck. Glad I watched it ^_^.

Synopsis
Eleven-year old Satsuki Kusakabe and her four-year old sister Mei have moved to the countryside with their father so that their ailing mother, presently confined in the hospital, will be able to recuperate in a more quiet environment when she gets discharged. The house, an old one, stood beside a huge camphor tree. Satsuki and Mei proceeded to explore the house, later finding some acorns and then flying black balls of ashes. Satsuki concluded that the house is haunted, which didn't concern her father and even told her that he always wanted to live in a haunted house. A friendly grandmother of a neighbor told them that what they saw are sootballs, and that they live in vacant houses. They are probably talking to each other about leaving now that there are new occupants in the house.

The sisters later forgot about their fear of the house being haunted. They would go with their father to the hospital to visit their mother, or Satsuki would go to school while Mei, too young to go to school yet, gets to stay at home. One day, Mei was playing outside the house when she saw a small, fluffy white creature walking not so far away. The white creature noticed her and started to run away. Mei proceeded to give chase when she noticed another creature, much larger than the white one and is colored blue. The blue one is carrying a sac torn underneath from which acorns are falling out. Mei started to chase both of them and the two critters ran underneath a tunnelled hedge beside the camphor tree. She then fell to a pit and onto the stomach of the largest version of the creatures she had been chasing. Later, Satsuki, after coming from school and noticing that Mei was missing, found her sister sleeping by the hedge near the camphor tree. Mei upon waking up, tried to find the creatures and went back underneath the tunnelled hedge, but the forested pit was gone. She then told her sister and her father that she saw the totoro. Surprisingly, the father didn't tell her it was only her imagination and said that Mei probably met the guardian of the forest.

It wasn't the Kusakabe sisters' first and last meeting with the totoro. The next was when Satsuki and Mei waited by the bustop under an umbrella for their father to come home. It was raining hard that night. Later Satsuki noticed the huge totoro, colored cream and gray with pointy ears and whiskers, waiting beside them and holding a huge leaf as his makeshift umbrella. Satsuki and Mei offered him their father's umbrella so the totoro won't get any more wet than he already is, the leaf offering scant protection. Then a cat-bus arrived that resembled a giant cheshire cat, and the totoro boarded it, but not before giving them a small package. Then he left.

So continued the idyllic life of the Kusakabes, spiced up with their meeting of the family of totoros. The large totoro later proved that he does not only exist as the guardian of the forest, but, in his own special way, as the Kusakabe sisters' guardian, too.

Review
The giant totoro is just soooo cute! Huge and fat with pointy ears, he's a cross between a fat cat and a rabbit. Really.

Plotwise, there isn't much for My Neighbor Totoro. Just the ordinary life of two sisters living in the countryside waiting for the day their sick mother would come home from the hospital. It's an uncomplicated story, only made complicated when Mei got lost in her quest to go see her mother who is still in the hospital. And of course the huge totoro comes to the rescue.

What makes My Neighbor Totoro special is the artwork. Again the clean lines that is the trademark of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Not to mention the kawaii-ness of the totoros and the neko-bus. Just watching them and you'd hardly notice that the plot is unstructured. They're just so cute (did I say that already?)!

The music is playful, as is expected of a kiddie anime. Despite being a kiddie fare however, My Neighbor Totoro is a values-loaded anime, something that the parents would love their kids to watch. It's also an anime for the parents and their friends too.

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