My Neighbor Totoro is a classic Japanese animated film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film was released in 1988. It received the Animage Anime Grand Prix Prize, Kinema Junpo Award and Mainichi Film Award for Best Film in 1988. It also received a Blue Ribbon Awards in the same year.
The movie amassed worldwide fame after its release. This is because of its simple yet moving portrayal of the joys and terrors of childhood. The story follows the two sisters as they overcome their fears and make friends with the sly catbus and furry Totoro. Here are more fun facts about the film that you should not miss:
Different animals inspire Totoro’s shape
Part of Totoro’s charm is his unusual shape. In the film, Totoro is a forest’s spirit. Totoro’s shape is inspired by cats and Japanese raccoon dogs (also called tanukis). The flying scenes in the film suggest that owls also inspire Totoro’s design.
Most films these days have a sequel. In the case of My Neighbor Totoro, there will be no follow-up. However, there are many fans that cannot get enough of the simple yet moving tale. Although it has come to a close, there are many fans that still look out for cameo appearances of Totoro in other works.
There are influences of Shintoism
Shintoism is the traditional religion of Japan; it is based on a belief and worship of kami. Kami can be elements of nature or landscapes. Basically, Shinto gives strong reverence for the natural world. In the movie, you will see themes of environmentalism and conservation. The movie also highlights the link between the nature spirits (kami) and humans.
It was originally a double-feature film
Before its release, the film was considered a big financial risk so it was initially set to be a double-feature with Grave of the Fireflies. This was the case because some believed that no one would want to see a movie that is about two young kids and a monster in countryside Japan.
Totoro’s cameo appearances
Totoro has become a cultural icon – his adorable, round and fluffy body inspired many animators and directors. In fact, Totoro made appearances in other movies. Many fans have spotted Totoro in Toy Story 3. Totoro also appeared in South Park and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Brief Lives. It does not end there. Totoro also appeared in SpongeBob SquarePants, Samurai Jack, Powerpuff Girls, and Bob’s Burgers.
In Studio Ghibli’s films, Totoro appeared in Pom Poko, Kiki’s Delivery Service and even Whisper of the Heart. Totoro became a beloved character that he was chosen as the mascot of the studio. He always appears as the main logo in the movie’s introduction.
There is an actual Tokorozawa City
My Neighbor Totoro is set in Tokorozawa City. This is an actual city nestled in the Saitama prefecture. In fact, director Hayao Miyazaki reportedly lives here. The city used to be a large farming area. There are groups of people that work towards preserving the remaining natural areas of the city despite its development.