My Neighbor Totoro (Blu-ray) (1988)

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Released 7-Nov-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Storyboards-(Picture in picture)
Featurette-Creating My Neighbour Totoro
Featurette-Creating the Characters
Credits-Textless Opening And Closing
Featurette-The Totoro Experience
Featurette-Producer's Perspective: Creating Ghibli
Featurette-The Locations of Totoro
Featurette-Scoring Miyazaki
Featurette-Behind the Microphone
Theatrical Trailer-Original Japanese Trailers
Trailer-Studio Ghibli Collection Trailers
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 86:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hayao Miyazaki
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Hitoshi Takagi
Noriko Hidaka
Chika Sakamoto
Shigesato Itoi
Sumi Shimamoto
Toshiyuki Amagasa
Tanie Kitabayashi
Yko Maruyama
Masashi Hirose
Machiko Washio
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music J Hisaishi
Kazutoshi Satou
Shigeharu Shiba


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
Japanese Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

My Neighbor Totoro aims to be a happy and heartwarming film, a film that lets the audience go home with pleasant, glad feelings. Lovers will feel each other to be more precious, parents will fondly recall their childhoods, and children will start exploring the thickets behind shrines and climbing trees to try to find a totoro. This is the kind of film I want to make.

Hayao Miyazaki:Project plan for My Neighbor Totoro: 1 December 1986

My Neighbor Totoro is certainly not the most sophisticated or complex film from director Hayao Miyazaki nor animation house Studio Ghibli. It is a film with young children in the lead and a story without much conflict. The pacing is deliberate with little of the hectic action that dominates most animated films for children. And yet it is one of the most loved films from Studio Ghibli and the large and lovable totoro has become the emblem for the animation house.

What is so special about My Neighbor Totoro is its sense of childhood awakening, the joy that comes from discovering the secret things in life that only children can see. In putting together his project plan for the film Hayao Miyazaki stressed that the film needed to be "a lively and fresh piece of entertainment and not full of reminiscence and the nostalgia. It must portray:
what we have forgotten
what we don't notice
what we are convinced we have lost."

My Neighbor Totoro has appeared on DVD once in this region and was reviewed upon release in 2006. That was a bare bones release whereas this Blu-ray now enhances the experience with the addition of special features. These features appeared on a region 1 re-release of the film to coincide with the Blu-ray of Ponyo in 2010.

The plot of the film can be described very simply, for it is a simple story. In the 1950's two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, are moving to the country with their father to be closer to their mother who is living in a nearby hospital. The house in the country hasn't been occupied for a while and the girls find some odd creatures, soot sprites, hiding in the cracks. This is their first awakening to the creatures that reside around the house.

Venturing into the nearby woods four-year-old Mei discovers, like Alice in Wonderland, a rabbit hole of sorts and follows some fluffy creatures into a hole in a giant tree. Falling into the hole she lands on a giant fluffy and very sleepy creature who she calls Totoro. Sharing the secret with her sister they enjoy moonlight playtime with the spirits of the forest including the enigmatic cat bus.

When the girls are disappointed once again that their mother can't leave the hospital Mei takes off to visit her only to get lost. With the local villagers trying hard to find the young girl it may be up to Satsuki and the spirits to save the day.

Within this simple story lies a joyful and heartwarming experience. There is no doubt that the film is really for younger viewers and, as said, lacks the complexity of Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away. Yet I defy any sophisticated animation fan to watch my Neighbor Totoro without sporting a grin as big as the cat bus by the end!

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Transfer Quality

Video

My Neighbor Totoro comes to Blu-ray almost 25 years after its initial release. It is, of course, displayed in the original 1.85:1 cinematic aspect ratio.

The film looks the best it has ever been on home video format in this Blu-ray release. Having said that, there is no comparison between the look of this film and the latest Studio Ghibli movies like Ponyo and Arriety.

The character animations are clear and crisp with strong lines. The colours are bright and vibrant.

The film's backgrounds are painted with a poets eye and can seem a little soft by comparison with Disney hand drawn animation. The look is one of lushness and pastels which is conveyed wonderfully in this Blu-ray transfer.

Those who have the 2006 DVD in their collection will want to rush out immediately and buy the Blu-ray release.

There are subtitles in English.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

My Neighbor Totoro features two soundtracks. Both are LPCM 2.0 tracks. One is the Japanese original language version and the second the English language dub version. Both of these versions were present on the 2006 DVD release. Whether you listen to one or the other is a matter of personal preference.

Both are rendered cleanly and clearly. Fans could perhaps want for a 5.1 surround track but the original soundtrack was in 2.0 and nothing is really lost by not adding surround effects. The soundtrack is a gentle one which relies upon the smallest of sounds, like the wind in the trees and Totoro playing the flute, for effect.

The soundtrack contains the iconic music of Joe Hisaishi as well as the bouncy songs Stroll (Hey Let's Go) and the Totoro song. Again Miyazaki achieved his aims with these songs. He wanted simple cheerful songs that children could sing along to.

There are no technical problems with the sound.

Audio Ratings Summary
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Audio Sync
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Extras

Picture In Picture Storyboards

The film with story boards for comparison.

Creating My Neighbor Totoro(2:58)

In this short feature Miyazaki explains the origins of the film and talks about how through it he rediscovered the beauty of Japanese landscapes.

Creating The Characters (4:23)

Miyazaki and producer Toshiro Suzuki talk about the process of creating the characters. Suzuki claims the credit for not introducing totoro until some distance into the film referring to Steven Spielberg's decision not to introduce ET until halfway through. In creating the character of totoro Miyazaki was careful to avoid making him look like a traditional Japanese folklore creature.

The Totoro Experience (1:59)

Producer Suzuki claims how the film was not a great success upon first release and it wasn't until a TV showing a year later that a ground swell of support emerged. He tells how a fan of the film produced toys and a TV station invited viewers to send in a letter (this was before emails) asking for a toy. The letters came in by the truckload!

Producers Perspective: Creating Ghibli (1:23)

Producer Suzuki explains how the name for Studio Ghibli came from a nickname for an Italian spy plane and also a wind in the desert.

The Locations Of Totoro (28:48)

This lengthy feature is fascinating. It is an extract from a Japanese program called Scenes of Ghibli. We are taken through the various inspirational locations for the film. It is surprising and often stunning to see how closely the locations were rendered. These were locations from the youth of Miyazaki.

Scoring Miyazaki (7:18)

In this feature Joe Hisaishi talks about his ideas for scoring the film including particular moments such as the appearance of totoro at the bus stop.

Behind The Microphone: Interviews with the English dub cast (5:40)

The English-language cast of the film including the very cute Fanning sisters are interviewed about the film and the process of doing animation voice-overs.

Textless Opening (2:01)

For those who like to hear the opening song and watch it without credits.

Textless Closing (2:01)

The same but for the closing of the film.

2 Original Japanese Trailers (0:44)

A couple of very short trailers in Japanese with subtitles.

Studio Ghibli collection trailers (4:10)

A collection of trailers for studio Ghibli films including Arrietty, Laputa: Castle In The Sky, Ponyo.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This Blu-ray has not yet been released in Region A.

Summary

My Neighbor Totoro is a favourite for many fans of Studio Ghibli even those who would not otherwise watch a film made for younger children. Perhaps it is the iconic image of the lovable fluffy giant totoro himself or the genuine spirit of the film that entrances. Whatever the reason the film belongs in any collection of animation fans.

The Blu-ray is not reference quality compared to other more modern animation however it looks and sounds excellent and will be appreciated by fans of the film as a significant improvement over the DVD.

The extras perhaps should have been included on a release of the film in 2010 but they do not go astray here all our worth watching.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, January 14, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
A favourite. - Downtown REPLY POSTED
great film but some issues - penguin (there is no bio)