My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro ★★★★★

Mei and Satsuki move to the countryside with their father to live closer to their long-term hospitalised mother. In the surrounding forest, they discover spirits living there: Totoros who help them during moments of uncertainty.

Last time I watched this was five or six years ago. I had seen Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, loving both, and was ready to be amazed again. I ended up giving it two and a half stars. I thought Mei and Satsuki were annoying and that it didn't have enough Totoro. And now I'm dumbfoundedly thinking to myself "What film did I watch back then?" Because it sure as hell can't have been this. Granted, I do still think too great a percentage of Mei's and Satsuki's lines are yelled at the top of their lungs, but besides this minor complaint (which also diminishes towards the film's second half), My Neighbor Totoro is a flawless masterpiece. A 'kids movie' that I as a young adult apparently was too young to truly understand and appreciate.

Recently, I revisited Kiki's Delivery Service, and went from liking to loving it by virtue of being more conscious of its central themes. The same happened here. What I believed to be a 'cute' movie at first, turns out to be a deeply affecting piece of art about experiencing, enduring, and overcoming worry and fear; about the insecurity that comes with undergoing a situation outside of your control. About how difficult those things can be as a child, how small hurdles can appear huge. And about the strength of our human coping mechanisms.

And besides all of that, it's a damn cute movie still.

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