My Neighbor Totoro Review

It's 2023, and I just watched My Neighbor Totoro for the first time ever. Let's discuss the movie and my experience of watching it now.

My Neighbor Totoro Review
Image: Ghibli Studios.

I finally watched one of my bucket list's most important movies: My Neighbor Totoro.

This article will include spoilers for the movie! If you haven't watched My Neighbor Totoro, read on at your own risk!

It's 2023, and while some people my age watched this movie as little kids, it was my first time. All of the Ghibli movies are on my list - even Spirited Away, which I did watch as a teenager. I want to experience it again as an adult.

So let's dive into My Neighbor Totoro!

The Animation is Phenomenal

One of the TV shows that was a staple of my childhood in the 90s was 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother. In Hebrew, we called it "Marco."

What drew me in more than anything else in that show was how deliciously the food was animated. Especially bread. And I feel it's the same for My Neighbor Totoro.

The water flow in the river is also a fantastic animation as the animation of the kids' acrobatics! I wish I had been that energetic and agile as a kid.

All these elements contribute to a well-told story, and the portrayal of kids' logic was believable and enjoyable.

Kids Logic Makes Stories Magical

When Mei discovered Totoro for the first time, and he burped(?) in her face, I was laughing just like a little kid again. This movie transported me into a different world to enjoy this story. Studio Ghibli knows how to set a scene properly.

I felt for Mei when Satsuki told her that her mother wouldn't be able to receive her corn for a few more days, and instead of seeing the "adult" logic, she decided to walk to the hospital alone. We as adults would never allow our kids to do something like that, but it propels the story forward and compels Satsuki to seek out Totoro again and bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Totoro is Fantastic

Totoro is a fantastic character. He doesn't do much except for yawning and burping, but the kids love him. When the kids give him their father's umbrella at the bus station, we discover his child-like personality when he enjoys the sound of the water dripping on the umbrella and jumps to make more water drip on all of them.

He also returns to repay the kindness by showing the kids how to sprout the seeds. That scene is EPIC. Showing the kids how easy it is to grow trees and then fly up to them is an absolute dream for a little kid who hopes to sprout a unique tree one day.

Totoro is peculiar, and the magical logic behind his actions is not always understood, but he's a fantastic entity, and I love him.

Didn't We All Wish For Magical Solutions As Kids?

When I was a kid, shows like Dragon Ball fascinated me. I could summon Shenron to grant any wish I had. And I often wanted to be as strong as Goku or Gohan. Or for my family to not struggle with money. Or transport me to a different planet when things were too much.

As kids, we always looked towards the fascinating, but when you grow up, those thoughts are pushed away by adulting.

My Neighbor Totoro returned those thoughts for me, even a little bit.

Totoro Must Be a Fun Neighbor

By the movie's end, when Mei goes missing, everyone chips in to help find her. Satsuki looks and runs from place to place and can't find her.

The scene is gut-wrenching and very relatable. Imagine losing your sibling and looking for them. I had that happen to me once when I was in my early teens. I suffered from Epilepsy, and when I got home, I saw my eldest brother coming to get me and asked where I'd been and that it's been a long time. I didn't know how to answer.

Now, in my mid-30s, I believe I had another seizure at school or on the way from school, and that's why I lost that time without remembering it. That evening I had another seizure that made my family take me to the ER. But that's a story for a different time.

Let's get back to Satsuki searching for Mei.

She couldn't find Mei, and it was getting late. What did she have to lose by trying Totoro? Nothing. She asked him for help, and he sent her his cat bus. That's being a good neighbor and helping out your friend.

And I'm sure Totoro is still good friends with the girls. Maybe they even keep partying to this day, at least in my imagination. One day, when they grow up, they'll stop seeing Totoro as all adults do. But until then, let kids be kids.

What did you think about this movie? Let me know in the comments below!

My Neighbor Totoro is streaming on Netflix.