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T.H.E.M. Animé Café Awards

2nd Place

[ café reviews ]

May and Satsuki find themselves waiting at a bus stop with some unexpected company...

Tonari No Totoro
(My Neighbour Totoro)

Distributed by: Tokuma Shoten Publishing (Japan), Fox Video (North America)
Length: 87 minutes
Genre: comedy / drama / fantasy
Rating: G, suitable for family viewing
Format: Original Japanese dialog (VHS/LD), dubbed (VHS)

Written, directed and produced by Miyazaki Hayao, Studio Ghibli. English version directed by Carl Macek.

[ rated g ]

Suitable for Family Viewing - Wonderful movie for all ages. There's not a lot of action to hold short-attention span children, but it would be almost criminal not to show this movie to everyone.

[ plot summary ]

vhs jacket

Tonari no Totoro is a story about two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, who have just moved into a new home in the country. To their complete surprise they find that they share their home with some rather unusual creatures including dustbunnies and some totoros who are constantly leaving acorns behind. The family is getting settled into their new home without their mother who is sick in the hospital. While the girls are getting settled in however, they make the acquaintance of a very large and old totoro; the veritable king of the forest. (Gotta love his expression when Mei imitates him when he "introduces" himself). All is well with the family until a telegram arrives from the hospital regarding the girls' mother. She wasn't to be coming home for the weekend. Determined to see her mother, Mei decides to run off to Shichikokuyama Hospital with some corn that she picked from the neighbour's garden.

[ capsule review ]

[The Kusakabi family on their way to their new home in the country.]

[May and Setsuki's mother writes home from the hospital.]

[May stumbles across a most curious, if somewhat fuzzy character.]

[Atop the King of the Forest himself, Totoro.]

[O, Chu and Chibi Totoro play their ocarinas with May and Satsuki.]

[May, concerned for her mother's health, decides to take an ear of fresh corn to the hospital.]

[Satsuki is worried about her missing sister.]

[With the aid of the catbus, the two girls deliver their gift to the hospital.]

The subtitled and dubbed versions of Totoro are remarkably similar. Carl Macek was given the nickname "Carl the Butcher" for some of his previous work, such as "Robotech" and "Vampire Hunter D," but "My Neighbour Totoro" is in a completely different league. Almost nothing was lost in the move from the original Japanese to the dubbed English version, resulting in a very fine production. Animation quality is still well above average for this day and age, and like other Miyazaki productions, Totoro features an intelligent, well-written script and a fine soundtrack, especially the background music. Voice actors were extremely well cast for their parts, and in some cases, the English voice-overs are even better than the original (the role of the father, for example.) One of my favourite scenes occurs when Mei (May?) jumps on her sleeping father and proclaims, "It's Mei!!!" This is a video that everyone can enjoy, and deserves to be in your video library. - AN

There are very few differences between the original and the dubbed versions of Tonari no Totoro. The animation quality is typical Studio Ghibli and is excellent, as is the music. The translations of the opening and ending themes for the dubbed version are well done and the singer was well chosen as well.

Unlike typical Macek productions Tonari no Totoro was virtually untouched by the editor's axe and Fox has truly done a masterful piece of translation and directing. The voice actors in general were well chosen for the various roles, and while I personally prefer the original over the dubbed version, both versions have equal merit. The voice acting in each has some weaknesses, and while the dubbed version addressed some of those weaknesses, it also introduced others.

The main advantage to the dubbed version however, is that Fox has "lightened" up the picture. The original movie's night scenes were quite dark and difficult to make out. The dubbed version has lightened these scenes considerably so it's now possible to actually see what's going on.

This movie truly belongs in one's collection. It's a fun movie for the whole family to enjoy. The voices are very well done and the music is catchy and would be fun for kids. All in all an excellent show. -JYN

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: 5 stars N/A 5 stars
Direction: 5 stars N/A 5 stars
Acting: 4 stars N/A 4 stars
Animation: 5 stars N/A 5 stars
Music: 5 stars N/A 5 stars
Translation: N/A N/A 5 stars
Overall Rating: 5 stars N/A 5 stars

[ café trivia ]

[ see also ]

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Page last modified 1999.10.27