My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 Japanese animated fantasy written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film tells the story of the two young daughters (Satsuki and Mei) of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. Again, the imagination of the filmmaker is at once utterly charming and totally haunting. The magical creatures the animator creates are completely beguiling, including the totoros, more or less a cross between a humungous Japanese racoon, a cat and an owl, which will most likely enter your hearts never to leave again (hence the stuffed animals we can find at Bloor in Toronto’s Korean village and on Queen Street West, including a HUGE totoro at Kool Kids). And the enigmatic Cat Bus—perhaps inspired by the Japanese legend that says that when cats reach a certain old age they can shape-shift into something else—who apparently decided to become a bus. And last but not least, the black pom-pom critters—the soot-sprites—which settle in unused places. You can see another incarnation of the soot-sprites in Spirited Away. If you don’t know anything about Miyazaki’s oeuvre, you are a lucky person because his enchanting world awaits you.

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