My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) (Studio Ghibli Collection) (1988)

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Released 15-Mar-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Multiple Angles-Storyboards
Credits-Textless Opening And Closing
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 86:48
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 Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music J Hisaishi
Kazutoshi Satou
Shigeharu Shiba


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
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 or Tonari no Totoro as it is known in Japan, is a delightful story detailing the life of two young sisters, Satsuki and Mei. For some unexplained reason the father and daughters move to the Japanese countryside. They move into a simple country home that has obviously been deserted for some time. Immediately the girls fall in love with the home and are intrigued by strange creatures they find that apparently live in the surrounding mystical forests. There is turmoil in their young lives, though - the girls' mother is ill and has been in hospital for some time.

Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece is a wonderful story of childhood innocence, fantasy and spending summertime outside in nature. The film spends much time showing how Satsuki and Mei adjust to life in their new surroundings, cleaning their new home, meeting the neighbours and exploring the countryside. Although it might sound mundane, Miyazaki has the ability to translate the girl's bright-eyed wonder, excitement and innocence to the screen in a way that entrances the audience, no matter how young or old.

Whilst playing outside one day, Mei sees an animal spirit that she decides to follow into the woods. It's here that she meets Totoro, a giant, fluffy creature that is a cross between a cat, rabbit, badger, koala and essentially any cute stuffed animal that a kid would love. Totoro doesn't talk, he growls, but he has the ability to turn up just when the girls seem to need him. Interestingly enough, the adults in the film encourage the girls to follow these 'imaginary' friends that the adults themselves cannot see. It's a refreshing change from the stereotypical sceptical adult that discourages children.

Tonari no Totoro is a rare children's film that actually respects its audience. It doesn't feel the need to explain every little detail or dumb down the message. It's a film that belongs in every DVD library, a classic that the whole family can enjoy over and over again.

Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

This film is presented in all its PAL glory at the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The disc is 16x9 enhanced.

Some of Madman's previous releases have suffered pretty lacklustre NTSC to PAL transfers but I'm happy to report that this transfer looks pretty good. Thankfully it is a native PAL transfer.

Overall, the transfer is pretty sharp.

The colours are great - the lush green Japanese countryside looks like you could walk right into it. There's a full range of colours on display that look vivid: dark storms, flowing water and furry Totoro.

My main complaint is that there can be some slight edge enhancement which pops up occasionally. It wasn't too distracting though.

There were no film artefacts.

The subtitles were easy to read and unlike some other Madman releases there were two subtitle options. Subtitles that matched the English dub with cultural tweaks, as well as translations of the Japanese dialogue that were a bit more of a literal interpretation. Both sets seemed quite accurate and suitable to me.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There are two tracks available, the Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224kb/s) track and the English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224kb/s) track.

I listened to both and I recommend the Japanese track (it was hard for my kids to keep up with the subtitles though!).

The tracks are good, but being 2.0 it doesn't have the dynamic range most viewers would be used to, but the audio is good nevertheless. The tracks are full and clean.

The dialogue comes through clearly and some effects, especially the rainfall, sound surprisingly good for a 2.0 track.

The soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi is a classic and sounds wonderful. It adds a lot to the film.

One thing I didn't like was that the English dub had the opening and closing songs in English. The songs sound ridiculous with English lyrics and the track would be much better suited with the original Japanese songs.

Also, the English track is a new dub. Disney did this one after Fox lost the US rights. The sisters are played by Dakota Fanning and her younger sister, Elle. This new dub and the Fanning sisters have copped criticism in various publications for not being as good as the old one. Personally, I enjoyed this track. I don't think I ever saw the film with the old English dub, I had only ever seen it in its native Japanese, so I can't comment on whether it's an improvement or a step backwards.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Theatrical Trailer

The original Japanese trailers are shown with English subtitles.

Multiple Angles

The whole film with soundtrack is shown in storyboard mode. Interesting to see how closely they matched each other.

Credits

Textless opening and closing credits.

R4 vs R1

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

R1 edges out R4 here because it has an extra featurette (even if it is just a 5 minute video on the Fanning sisters.) Interestingly the US gets a two disc release with almost the identical content to the R4 single disc release. Unless you're a huge Dakota fan I'd recommend the R4 PAL version.

Summary

Overall, this is a great film and a worthy DVD release.

The video is very good.

The audio is great.

The special features are decent. Personally, a Miyazaki commentary would be ichiban.

A great movie for the entire family - beats Disney at its own G rated game.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Smith (boku no bio)
Friday, July 07, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV4300, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL HS10 projector on 100 inch 16x9 screen + Palsonic 76WSHD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-DE685. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPioneer
SpeakersDB Dynamics VEGA series floor standers + centre, DB bipole rears, 10" 100W DB Dynamics sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Subtitles - Eng vs Jap - Neil REPLY POSTED
subtitles - penguin (there is no bio) REPLY POSTED
Another NTSC Conversion - birdflu
No, it's definitely not NTSC to PAL / Region 1 wins image quality - grug (there is no bio.)