My Neighbor Totoro is Hayao Miyazaki's first movie in his series of imaginative children's/family movies that later spawned Kiki's Delivery Service and'"recently'"Ponyo. It was a huge success; so much so that the big Totoro immediately became the logo and mascot for Studio Ghibli. Years ago, it was my first introduction to Miyazaki's movies, and it began a long love affair.
Satsuki, Mei, and their father, Tatsuo, are moving to a new house in a rural town. With his wife confined to a hospital room due to an unspecified illness, Tatsuo is charged with raising their daughters on his own. Considering he works fulltime, and sometimes has to travel back to the city to teach, this can be a tall order, especially as Mei is only four years old.
But he is not without help: aside from the other villagers chipping in where needed, he has the assistance of Totoro, the 'keeper of the forest.' One day while playing, Mei spies a little creature with rabbit ears and opts to chase it through the fields and into the woods. She soon comes to a clearing with a great tree, where a giant version of the little creature is sleeping. Curiously, Mei climbs on top of the creature, waking it up. Sleepily, the creature grunts at Mei, who interprets the grunts as 'Totoro,' and calls him that from then on. Mei falls asleep on Totoro's giant belly, but when she awakes both Totoro and the clearing are gone.
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