Movie Review: My Neighbor Totoro 

This Studio Ghibli classic is now available on HBO max

Leah Haskell

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio that works on many feature films and short films. Hayao Miyazaki works hard with a team of other artists to make their movies with a very distinct animation style. The films were only available on DVD until HBO Max launched on May 27, 2020, and announced that Studio Ghibli movies would be available for anyone with an HBO max subscription. 

The most known movie from Studio Ghibli is “My neighbor Totoro,” which was released in 1988. The movie is very family-friendly and doesn’t have a “bad guy” character. The movie follows sisters Satsuke, who is 10 years old, and Mei, who is 4 years old. Their father moves them to a countryside home to be near the hospital where their mother is recovering from an illness. When they first arrive at the new house, the neighbor comes over to greet them all. She told them all to call her Nanny and that she wanted to help the family in any way they needed. The girls went to explore the house and to find the attic. When they got to the attic, they found a black little ball running across the floors and walls. Satsuke gets scared and runs down the stairs while Mei tries to catch one of the creatures. Nanny sees that the girls have black dust on their feet and that they created a trail of it through the house. She explains that there are spirits living inside the house called “Soot Spirits,” and they turn into dust when they are caught. This explains why Mei has black dust on her hands. The Soot Spirits are the first of many different spirits the girls meet. One hot afternoon, the dad takes the girls on a little trip to go see the big tree that is in the center of the forest. He explains the tree is called the Camphor tree and is the mother of the forest. It’s rumored to have great spiritual energy. 

One day, Mei’s father was doing work at home while she was playing in the backyard. She found acorns and followed the trail to find a small spirit, but the spirit ran away. Mei decided to follow. They ended up in the center of the roots of the tree, where only spirits can enter. After entering the roots, she fell down a hole and landed on a big spirit who was sleeping. He woke up, and when Mei asked his name, he said “To-to-ro!” Totoro helps lead Mei back home.

Throughout the movie, you see how Mei and Satsuke both get help from the spirits and become friends with them. You also get to follow along with what happens with their mother. Studio Ghibli did a great job making a movie that is interesting, and the art is beautiful. All movies by Studio Ghibli are always making you sit on the edge of your seat. The movies are available in subtitles and dubbed. Subtitles are when the voice acting is in Japanese but there are English subtitles. Dubbed is when the voice acting is in English. Whichever you pick, the movie is phenomenal and is a must-watch for anyone.