My neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)

my-neighbor-totoro-posterJapanese animated fantasy adventure from 1988.
Starring: Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto (American voice over version: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Frank Welker)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Bechdel-test: Pass


Two young sisters, Mei and Satsuki, and their father move into a new house while their mother is in the hospital. One of their new neighbors is the amazing Totoro.


I have seen “My neighbor Totoro” many times before, and I have loved it every time. With each viewing I notice a few new things, sometimes I see a big new thing, and sometimes, like today, it’s something small. The new find this time was a goat and just how scary it was.

This is the first time I have seen the American dubbed version of the film, and the voice actors were good and convincing as these characters that I love so much. Sadly I was put off by the way they pronounced Totoro, where the second “t” became a “d”. Also the song at the beginning and end didn’t quite fit with the American accents. For the rest of the movie I didn’t notice anything off-putting with the voices.

The animation was just as fun and beautiful as I always find in Miyazaki’s movies.


The story isn’t very complex, but rather it is sweet and innocent. It focuses on the little things in life, and the pacing of the storytelling makes it fun and entertaining throughout. Maybe part of what captivates with this story is the unexpected and unusual elements.

Most important in this movie are the characters and setting. “My neighbor Totoro” is set in countryside in Japan in the 1950’s, and is as such, an adventure in a different time and place for a westerner like myself. The characters are true and whole people, each and every one. More than I’ve seen in most other movies, if not in all other movies.

The amazing thing about this movie is how the children are depicted just as I remember children to be from my own childhood. Not that I experienced any events like those in the movie, but still, the emotions and reactions seems utterly real, and I don’t think I’m used to seeing children so realistically depicted in movies.

The movie leaves me with the image of what it is to be a child, the fears, the joys, the little explorations of the closest world. And maybe I am also reminded of how it feels to be a parent and how one might relive childhood through parenthood.


Still loved the movie, but I prefer the Japanese and the earlier British version. “My neighbor Todoro” was not right for me.


I recommend this movie to absolutely anyone. For Americans maybe any voice version is fine, but for most others I would recommend the British or Japanese version.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “My neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

Eight movies down. 357 to go.

If you want to get “My neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Seven Samurai” (Shichinin no samurai). Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

2 thoughts on “My neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)

  1. Pingback: Aimless and on vacation | Dreamberry

  2. Pingback: Monsters, Inc. | Dreamberry

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