Worth A Look: My Neighbor Totoro

"Totoro" is Japanese for troll. The troll in this anime from Studio Ghibli is a very gentle one, and more like a tree spirit than a stony monster or an ogre who lives under bridges and threatens goats.

In this story two girls move to the countryside with their father. It turns out that their mother has been very ill and is in hospital. The girls, however, are looking forward to seeing their mother when she is allowed to come visit them in their new home. The girls have barely moved in before they start seeing magical creatures around them. One of them is found under a tree near their house, and is Totoro. Even though their lives remain simple and, in many ways ordinary with housework and school and making new friends, the presence of Totoro makes even waiting at the bus stop a little bit magical.

The drama, when it happens, comes when the sisters, upset because their mother cannot  come visit them after all, quarrel. Then one of them goes missing and the entire neighborhood comes out to help search for her.

It's the little touches that make this movie enjoyable: the multi-legged cat bus that takes Totoro where he needs to go, the little critters that are always near him, the kindness of the elderly lady who minds the girls and cleans the house, and the attitude of the parents who are still able to accept the possibility of magic around them.

A very family friendly little movie. Enjoy.