An iconic animated film of childhood

Video review: My Neighbor Totoro


Chris Devers is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

My Neighbor Totoro captures the innocence of childhood and nostalgia all in one.

My Neighbor Totoro is known as Studio Ghibli’s iconic film featuring two sisters experiencing the wonders and innocence of childhood, however, its message rests in a deeper meaning-making it an impactful film for viewers of all ages. 

Ghibli is known for its whimsical animated films and My Neighbor Totoro is no exception as it takes place in the Japanese countryside surrounded by a vibrant green forest. The film introduces sisters, Mei and Satsuki, who have moved with their father to the country to remain close to their hospitalized mother. Here they discover the nature spirit, Totoro, who guides them on adventures in the forest with the help of other magical creatures (My Neighbor Totoro is a Gentle Yet Contemplative Ride Back to Childhood).

Through these experiences, the film conveys the magic behind childhood innocence as the sisters are the only ones who can see Totoro. Especially during a time of struggle the movie represents how a child’s imagination and perseverance can be a strong tool in a time of need. 

However, while the film captures the theme of innocence, it also stresses the importance of the environment. Director, Hayao Miyazaki, is known for portraying the significance of persevering nature in his films such as in Princess Mononoke. With My Neighbor Totoro, Miyazaki wanted to represent this importance through his visuals as the forest is the core image of the film. It is ever-growing with the help of Mei and Satsuki as Totoro teaches them how to plant seeds and wander the forest. This environmentalist message was so striking for audiences that a movement was started in Japan to protect the surrounding forest (Hayao Miyazaki 1941).

My Neighbor Totoro is a precious story that has remained timeless as it tackles issues of importance. It’s a great film to watch with the whole family and will have you wanting to watch more of Studio Ghibli’s great films.