Viewed – 03 August 2013 Blu-ray
A popular entry in the Studio Ghibli back catalog, I am just surprised as a fan I have only just managed to sit down and watch. The story follows two young girls, Satsuki and Mei who along with their father move to a summer house in the countryside whilst their mother recovers in hospital from an illness. Whilst there the two girls stumble upon a group of woodland magical creatures, lead by the giant cuddly Totoro.
Beautifully animated as always, but more so due to the lush scenery and colorful characters. This is a joy to look at from start to finish. Less interesting is the slow moving, minimalist story that doesn’t have a great deal going on other than keen observations of childhood wonder, innocence and a bit of fantasy. The character design, especially the woodland creatures is wonderfully odd, and a bus that is basically a large cat with lots of legs turns up, showcasing the Studio’s love of bizarre creations For a Ghibli movie this is every bit as magical and charming as others, but much simpler and gentle in tone. We learn little about the creatures or even what is actually wrong with the girls mother, the movie clearly not interested in such details.
I can certainly see why this would be a favorite among younger Ghibli fans, as it doesn’t require much attention from the viewer, and has enough personality and fun to keep them glued. As a more mature admirer of the famed Japanese studio, I came away pleased that I had seen it, but longing for something with more substance.
The Blu-ray from Studio Canal is very pleasing. Colors pop and detail is decent. Sound quality is presented in both original Japanese with subtitles or English dub with very decent voice work (including Dakota Fanning as Satsuki) – and although only in 2.0 stereo I thought the soundtrack here, including a nice orchestral score was very enjoyable, Extras consist of several short featurettes about the making and the studio with interviews with the creators, including director Hayao Myazaki. Add to this storyboards and behind the microphone footage of the American dub … and this is an impressive treatment for one of the studio’s most loved creations.
(the movie) 3 /5
(the Blu-ray) 5 /5
- Japan’s Studio Ghibli fans prepare to ‘balus’ on Twitter again during favorite movie (japandailypress.com)
- Studio Ghibli: Japan’s dream factory (telegraph.co.uk)
- #5 My Neighbor Totoro (immortalnews.wordpress.com)
- Ghibli’s The Wind Rises Japanese Trailer (boxchatter.wordpress.com)