Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Neighbor Totoro

The next film in the series of epic masterpieces released from Studio Ghibli shows a return of Hayao Miyazaki to the directors chair. It is titles "My Neighbor Totoro" and this is a movie that I highly recommend watching with children. The film follows the two young daughters. Satsuki Kusakabe (age ten) and Mei Kusakabe (age four), of a professor, Tatuso Kusakabe, and their adventures in their new home in postwar rural Japan. When they arrive there, they meet a kind old woman, granny/nanny, and her typical pre-teen grandson, Kanta Okagi. When the three Kusakabes' first move into their new house the mother, Yasuko Kusakabe, is revealed to be in the hospital from a unnamed long term illness, thus their move so they can be closer to the hospital. They soon discover, to their great joy, little black balls of soot, called susuwatari or soot sprites in the english translation and a mysterious cat like forest creature named Totoro, who introduces them to a weird catbus chreature.

"My Neighbor Totoro" is a wonderful family film that is both delightful and charming with a cast of great voices. Voicing the two sisters are real life sisters Dakota and her younger sister Elle Fanning, Both of whom bring a realistic sisterly feel to their characters. The father is voiced by Tim Daly while the mother is voiced by Lea Solonga, who is the singing voice of Jasmine (Aladdin) and Fa Mulan (Mulan and Mulan 2). The voice of the catbus and Totoro is Frank Welker,  famous for voicing Fred Jones and Scooby-Doo in the Scooby-doo shows. Rounding out the cast was Pat Carroll, voicing granny, and Paul Butcher voicing Kanta. This movie is a wonderful movie to watch with children and I highly recommend watching it.

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