Aaron Hendrix’s review published on Letterboxd:
Trees and people used to be good friends. I saw that tree and decided to buy the house.
It's odd. Though My Neighbor Totoro gums so strictly to the three-act structure (to the point of being trisected almost perfectly - time it), the lack of a focal point for the conflict makes it feel completely and utterly fresh. There's no real reason for the suffering that all of the characters endure, and - in the end - the film isn't really about the act of struggling.
This is essentially a film about a young girl living through a frightening time in her life and finding joy in the fear. It's beautiful how it subverts its own invocations of Alice in Wonderland and typical young adult fiction and just lets its characters be people.
That's not to say there's no conflict or growth, to the contrary all of the main characters grow in some form or another, with Satsuki having the most clearly drawn arc of the three.
I'm not as in love with this film as I was with Spirited Away, but My Neighbor Totoro is pure cinematic magic; as to be expected with Miyazaki. I give it a 4.5/5.