My Neighbour Totoro Blu-ray

Sunday, 11 November 2012 12:25
Posted in Blu-Ray
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My Neighbour Totoro on Blu-ray and DVDA father and his two young daughters move into a quiet countryside abode whilst the mother recovers in hospital from tuberculosis. The girls imagine that the house is haunted, but instead discover some magical creatures in a giant camphor tree. Whilst the father is kept busy working at a university, the girls go on some fantastical, delightful adventures that are guaranteed to melt the coldest hearts.

Totoro is like the bizarre but perfect combination of an eight-foot rabbit and an owl, and he is accompanied by two smaller versions of himself that either hop alongside him or climb up his furry body to catch a ride. A woodland spirit, he is only visible by children, and only appears when he wants to. He can fly on a spinning top and is able to call on other spirits such as a twelve-legged cat-bus (imagine the Cheshire Cat spliced with a bus!).

This animated film by Studio Ghibli is a truly wonderful and uncomplicated tale; there are no baddies or evil spirits, just the beautiful Japanese countryside, friendly neighbours and children playing with fantastic beasts that keep them safe and come to their aid in times of need. Imagine “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with the dark and disturbing elements expunged, whilst maintaining the soul and substance of the piece.

One of the two central themes is the importance and beauty of the countryside. The family appears to have come from a town or city but they immediately take to their new environment; it is expansive, lush, stress-free and provides abundant fresh, healthy food. Writer/director Hayao Miyazaki presents the piece as a celebration of nature, and that sentiment is very potent and contagious.

The other theme is the value of community and friendship, be it with human neighbours or those from other species. The locals share resources and support one-another, to my mind in contrast to heavily populated, urban areas where nobody says ‘hello’ and people cross the street to avoid helping someone in need.

The production values are impeccable, bringing together outstanding art, animation, story-telling, music and voice acting. The excellent English dub features performances by Dakota and Elle Fanning, Pat Carroll, Tim Daly and Paul Butcher. The characterisation of the girls and a local boy is spot-on, capturing not only their energy and effervescence, but also their concerns and fears over their frail mother’s health.

This has to be one of Studio Ghibli’s finest works, and I urge people who have only seen animated films by Disney and Dreamworks to expand their horizons and embrace this charming and unique animation. I guarantee it will appeal to adults as much as to children. I defy anyone who has seen it to not lust after a Totoro plush toy!

The special features included in this release are:

  • Storyboards (appear in the bottom right-hand corner during the movie)
  • Creating My Neighbour Totoro Featurette
  • Creating the Characters Featurette
  • The Totoro Experience Producer’s Perspective: Creating Ghibli
  • The Locations of Totoro
  • Scoring Miyazaki
  • Behind the Microphone Featurette
  • Textless Opening & Closing Credits
  • Original Japanese Theatrical Trailer
  • Studio Ghibli Trailer Reel

Several of these items are new to this dual-format release; the package as whole is fairly comprehensive, with a mixture of short and pithy clips specific to “Totoro” and some longer, older content covering Studio Ghibli in general. The Blu-ray version is crisp, clean and brings out the gorgeous detail of the backgrounds. The artwork really is stunning.

“My Neighbour Totoro” (1988) is released on dual-format Blu-ray and DVD (two discs in one box) on 12 February, courtesy of studiocanal. The running time is 86 minutes approx, a ‘U’ certificate, and has a RRP for £24.99, or less from

Last modified on Sunday, 11 November 2012 12:30

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