Movie Review – My Neighbor Totoro

A Part of My Life

The movie, My Neighbor Totoro, is part of my life and has been since I was little. I have a Totoro doll (that my dad gave me for Christmas), a Totoro Halloween costume (that I wore for nearly a month in 2019 – yep that was me at the NY Botanical Gardens!), a Totoro shirt (that I got from Singapore), and even a set of Totoro chopsticks set that Maxine (my big sister) brought back from The Studio Ghibli Museum on a trip she made a few years ago to Japan. 

Ghibli Museum Mitaka

Here is a link to that museum – hey there – now you can visit it right here right now! Yay!

Ghibli Museum Mitaka

So What is a Totoro

I think Totoro represents the forest and nature because of one scene in the movie – near the beginning. The family has just moved to their new house and they observe a great tree near their house. They thank the great tree for watching over them with bows and words of admiration acknowledging the power of nature and the forest spirit. 

The Story

In its simplest form the story is about a family that moves to a new home and town. The mother is sick in the hospital so the two kids, Satsuke (pronounced Satski in the Disney version) and Mei do lots of exploring on their own. Mei, the youngest, finds the great creature Totoro on one of her solo excursions. Some how they bond and Totoro brings his magical natural world to the aid of Mei when she needs it.

A not-to-be-missed character is the Cat Bus. And this creature lives up to its name – truly an enormous Cat-Bus. It is one of the most imaginative creatures you will likely ever see. Totoro and Satsuke ride in the Cat-Bus in the night on their quest to find Mei. A scene that you will remember for certain.

One fascinating character in the movie is actually a simple dust particle, called a soot-sprite. We would call one of these here in the U.S.A. a “dust bunny.” Satsuke and Mei and their dad get rid of these dusty black blobs (as cute as they are) by laughing loudly. These soot-sprites also appear in another Miyazaki movie, Spirited Away.

Watch it for Yourself

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Trailer (Japanese)

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Trailer (English)

Full Movie (

  • It is a safe site but seems to work a lot better on a Mac. Just don’t download or update anything from here. Be patient and pay attention and you can see the whole movie in beautiful HD – easy peasy.

About the Director, Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki was born on January 5, 1941. He was born in Bunkyo ward of Tokyo, and he is considered a masterful storyteller and animator. He expressed great interest in manga and animation from a young age and joined Toei Animation in 1963. After moving to Nippon Animation in 1973, he co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985, where he contributed to many animations such as Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro. Go to his Wikipedia page to learn more about him. Link is below.

Wikipedia link: Hayao Miyazaki