MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO (Tonari no
Region 2 (UK) Edition - Reviewed by Andy Davidson
Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Pat Carroll
Two young girls, Satusiki and Mae, are
moving to a new home with their father. Their mother has been ill so, the
family has decided to move to a new home in the country so that she can
recuperate when she comes out of hospital.
Compared to the cramped conditions of urban
Tokyo, their new home is a bewildering spectacle and the girls head off to
explore their new surroundings. On one such expedition, Satsuki spots a
small white creature scurrying through the undergrowth. She gives chase
and after a breathtaking pursuit emerges in a clearing where she discovers
Totoro, an enormous woodland creature, resting under the camphor tree near
And so begins Miyazakiís masterpiece. My
Neighbour Totoro is, first and foremost, a childrenís film. It
explores a simple story Ė two girls discovering their new home and the
creatures (human and otherwise) around it and awakening after a period of
sadness and confusion. While their motherís illness is not discussed at
any length, the viewer gets the impression that she was very seriously ill
and that Totoro and his lovable friends are a form of therapy.
But thatís all too psychoanalytical for a
film such as this. My Neighbour Totoro is about that magical time
when children are filled with innocence and wonder. Where mysterious
creatures lurk unseen and the unknown is not a threat but something to be
explored with joyful abandon.
My Neighbour Totoro manages to
convey those feelings of innocence and wonder without ever becoming cheesy
or misty-eyed. Itís a simple film which conveys its message without ever
becoming preachy. Itís no mystery why Totoro himself has become the emblem
of Studio Ghibli; the creature is the epitome of everything the studio
Like the majority
of Optimumís Studio Ghibli collection, My Neighbour Totoro is
presented as a single disc release, along with a selection of extras taken
from the filmís various releases worldwide.
My Neighbour Totoro is presented in the filmís original 1.84:1
aspect ratio, with anamorphic enhancement. It's windowboxed, allowing the
full picture to fit on most screens. This allows for the edge area cropped
off in the overscan on most domestic sets. The picture itself, while
generally good, is variable in places. Some of the menus are quite blurred
and the film itself, while adequate, does look slightly dark with visible
dirt and edge enhancement in places.
There are two soundtracks available. As well as the original Japanese 2.0
soundtrack, there is a 2.0 English dub starring sisters Dakota and Elle
Fanning. Both tracks are presented at 224kbps. English subtitles are also
available, along with subtitles for the hard of hearing.
The best extra on all of Optimumís Studio Ghibli releases has been the
inclusion of the original storyboards for the film, viewable as an
alternative angle option. The beautifully simple artwork is a joy to watch
and gives a unique insight into the animation process behind these films.
The three original Japanese trailers for My Neighbour Totoro are
included, along with English subtitles. Somewhat annoyingly, the subtitles
cannot be switched off. The picture quality of the trailers themselves is
variable, with the first of the three looking like itís been compressed to
within an inch of its life.
Textless Opening & Closing Credits
Optimum have included the opening and closing sequences for the film minus
credits. The opener is a nice little animation featuring dancing Totoros
but the closing sequence is of more value in that it continues the story
past the end of the film. So, if you want to know what happens to Mae and
Satsuki when the music starts, watch on.
Howlís Moving Castle trailer
Howlís Moving Castle is released on DVD the same day as My
Neighbour Totoro. The US trailer for the film, complete with
implausibly gruff voice is included here.
Studio Ghibli Collection trailer
Once again, the trailer for the complete set of Ghibli releases planned by
Optimum is included. The trailers appear to have been sourced from a lower
quality medium so donít quite look their best, but the contents are more
than worth a viewing.
My Neighbour Totoro is not only one
of the best Ghibli films, itís one of the best films for children ever
made. What this release lacks in technical quality it more than makes up
for in the quality of the film itself. Essential viewing for families
Note: The disc's sleeve uses the Anglicised
spelling of the film's title, My Neighbour Totoro. The menus and
the print itself use the American version, My Neighbor Totoro.
The Studio Ghibli Collection
Laputa - Castle in the
DVD reviewed: March 2006