By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 6, 2013)
My Neighbor Totoro – Disney Blu Ray
While this 1988 film was anime master’s Hayao Miyazaki’s fourth feature, it was one of his (and Studio Ghibli’s) first international hits. It’s a lovely tale about a young professor and his two daughters settling into their new country house (a “fixer-upper”) while Mom convalesces at a nearby hospital. The rambunctious 4 year-old goes exploring and stumbles into the verdant court of a “king” nestled within the roots of a gargantuan camphor tree. This king rules with a gentle hand; a benign forest spirit named Totoro (a furry, whiskered amalgam of every cuddly toy you ever cozied up to as a child).
Granted, it’s Miyazaki’s most simplistic and kid-friendly tale…but that’s not a put down. Miyazaki’s usual themes remain intact; the animation is breathtaking, the fantasy elements magical, yet the human characters remain down-to-earth and easy to relate to. A charmer. Disney’s HD transfer is excellent; all of the extras from the SD edition are ported over.