Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro is thirty years old. That’s an aeon in the history and development of animated movies and, despite the beautifully-rendered traditional animation and impeccable Blu-ray transfer, it’s beginning to show its age. Thirty years is also a lifetime in how children’s movies - for, make no mistake, this is a masterpiece of children’s filmmaking - are presented, and there is nothing of the infused meaning or winks to an adult audience that you’ll find in such modern fare, if that’s your taste.
That said, it’s still a wonderful experience, a tale of two sisters transplanted to the Japanese countryside with their father while their mother recuperates in hospital. The setting is post-World War Two, and it is a Japan caught between ages, before the technological advances of the bullet train and still living side by side with nature spirits. The film is Satsuki and Mei’s story, as they explore their new environment and discover some delightful surprises, and it captures their sense of wonder completely. It’s a snapshot, incomplete and tantalising, and it is imbued with life.
The original Japanese-language voice work of Noriko Hidaka and Chika Sakamoto is charming, beguiling and sincere, although you may also want to check out the English dub, produced in association with Disney and featuring the Fanning sisters in the principle roles.
For its anniversary, StudioCanal has re-released the Blu-ray in a wonderful package, and alongside the dual format discs you’ll find a deluxe The Art Of My Neighbour Totoro book, a tote bag, an exclusive poster, several art prints, and other goodies, all limited to 1000 pieces. This collectors’ edition retails at £80 but is well worth that investment for a fan of the movie, or of Studio Ghibli’s works in general.
It’s a package that is befitting a movie of its pedigree, which even after thirty years delights and inspires. Ordinarily one would imagine such a deluxe collectors’ edition to be only for the hardest of the hardcore, but even the most casual Ghibli fan will find value here.
MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO - COLLECTOR’S EDITION / CERT: U / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: HAYAO MIYAZAKI / STARRING: DAKOTA FANNING, ELLE FANNING, TIM DALY / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 3RD