My Neighbor Totoro (Japanese: となりのトトロ) was screening on Netflix so I had to watch it… again. I miss the old anime. The attention to the drawing detail is remarkable. To examplify a little, just look at the old house in the movie. Just watch just the grass. It is stunning. The movie is full of the life that the two main protagonists inject. These two sisters take us on a ride with the spirits that inhabit the forest nearby and make us believe that the life they breathe so within can call anything beautiful and enchanting around us into life. This is also a great film to test your Japanese or just learn it. Indeed, the little girls repeat themselves, speak up and in a lively manner and definitely enonciate.
The movie also showcases a wonderful example of parenting albeit only possible these days in specific parts of the world and countries. As I see it, it is faciliating the pure growth of fearless but respectful children and the expression of the imagination as part of normal life. I must admit I did cringe a little when the dad bathing naked with his girls. It was specifically the open thighs really. And then, within a few seconds, I realise I probably would not condemn it or confuse it with the monsters out there and thereby not compromise the purity of it.
That parenthesis being closed, the feeling with which you are left is positive. When the mother comes back home, we realise that everyone, although missing the lady of the house in her absence, had been getting on with their lives. They had continued to explore the world. They did not use that absence to halt their personal growth, complain about the additional work. Life went on and not in a disrepectful or denial kind of way. The whole philosophy that provides the foundation for the movie gives it as much a refreshing and invigorating outlook as the visual landscape in which it is set.
I don’t just miss the old school anime. I miss the rested mind that is free to grow and roam beyond the safety enclosure that the quest for survival has instilled in us within the urban jungle. Escape to the countryside and beyond in this beautiful yet simple fantasy. And with that, remember the child within, the infinite sense of possibilities and let yourself breathe and dream.
My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 Japanese anime from the renowned Studio Ghibli. It is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.