Plot: What’s it about?
After their mother was hospitalized, two young girls were moved to a rural home with their father. Satsuki is older, but loves to have fun just as much as her little sister Mei. The girls soon discover their new home borders a magical forest, which is chock full of mystical creatures. While all of the various forest dwellers are unique and interesting, the girls find a connection with Totoro, a powerful forest spirit. Soon Totoro and the sisters embark on all kinds of adventures, as the spirit introduces his new friends to his wealth of fellow forest inhabitants. This even includes a giant cat that happens to be the shape of a bus, which the girls are able to ride inside of. When the girls learn their mother isn’t coming home as soon as they expected, Mei runs away in order to visit her mother at the hospital. This leads to a big search as Satsuki, her father, and the neighbors all try to locate Mei. Will Mei be found and brought back to safety and if so, will the forest spirits have a role to play in her return?
One of the most unique animated features you’ll ever watch, My Neighbor Totoro is a classic and one of the reasons Hayao Miyazaki found immense global success. I love the imagination on showcase here, with one of a kind elements that never fail to entertain. The movie is just packed with characters that stand out and remain memorable, with Totoro himself and the awesome Cat Bus as examples. Even the characters with smaller roles prove to be memorable however, especially when brought to life with such vivid imagination. The animation is great, but isn’t going to compete with modern animation, especially since this movie was crafted with a limited budget. I love the visuals however, thanks to superb attention to detail and skilled character design. The story is a little light, with minimal conflict in most scenes, but it works and the characters balance out the narrative’s lack of depth. In short, My Neighbor Totoro is a terrific movie that more than deserves a place in any animation fan’s library, it is simply one of the most unique and imaginative films out there.
Video: How does it look?
My Neighbor Totoro is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. This is a great looking treatment, one that leaves all previous home video editions in the dust. The image is crisp and clear, with detail that simply sparkles. As I mentioned before, the budget limitations are evident in the animation, but it looks excellent here. I found colors to be bright and vivid, while contrast is stark and accurate, so the movie looks terrific. The visuals might not be on the same technical level as more modern animated features, but the creativity ensures Totoro can more than compete.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release offers DTS HD 2.0 soundtracks in both English and Japanese. The audio is rock solid and sounds better than the DVD releases, but don’t expect the world here. The presence is good, but given the limitations of a 2.0 track, there isn’t a lot to talk about here. The dialogue is crystal clear, which ensures all the vocals come across well, while general audio is solid, but not that immersive. But don’t write off the soundtrack just because the depth is minimal, as the movie sounds quite good. This release also includes a French language option, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release includes the original Japanese storyboards, a host of behind the scenes featurettes, and the original Japanese trailer.