My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro ★★★★★

"I feel like when I'm watching one of his [Hayao Miyazaki] movies, Spirited Away for example...you just get that feeling, that feeling where you remember what it's like to be 4 years old when the world is a magical place and everything is wondrous. He sort of invites you in to see that way again."
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt

My Neighbor Totoro is a miracle for so many reasons. I've been dying to revisit this for so long, and since I'm watching Miyazaki's films in chronological order, I thought now was a great time. Technically and narratively flawless, My Neighbor Totoro is easily Miyazaki's second best film and my third favorite animated film. Everything in this movie is so unbelievably perfect and meticulously crafted.

To start, the animation shows off its brilliance in many ways. The amount of attention to detail in this movie is inspiring as hell. Every frame of this is immaculately-drawn and painted, yes, but there is also just so much understanding of the way children traverse through their environments, the manner in which they emote during certain situations, and the little slip-ups they make when they're intently focused (such as Mei tripping and falling on her face when she runs). The dedication put into accurately representing the physicality of children is one of the reasons why this film is such a good examination of childhood.

The voice acting also helps a lot. I don't really know what to say about it, these are simply two of the best voice performances I've ever heard. Chika Sakamoto's performance as Mei is probably one of my favorite voice performances, it's up there with the voice performances of the main cast in Neon Genesis Evangelion. As for Joe Hisaishi's music, it's my second favorite score of his. The sound in this film is just so warm and inviting.

In the end though, this is a movie about childhood and what it is to be a child. Similar to what Joseph Gordon-Levitt said, this movie takes you by the hand and guides you through time until you're suddenly 4-5 years old again, have an abundance of free time, and can see the beautiful whimsy in everything around you. This movie also illustrates childhood anxiety really well, but it's mainly focused on bringing the feeling of innocence. Oddly enough, that is something I really needed right now. Life isn't easy for most people in general, but it's definitely a universal struggle during this time. It was comforting to feel like a child again even if it was only for a fleeting hour and a half. Without a doubt, one of the greatest films I have seen and ever will see.

P.S.

I'm sure y'all are following proper conduct, but just in case anyone reading this isn't, please adhere to the social distancing guidelines necessary for this period in time. Flatten the curve and try not to touch your face, mouth, or nose. Stay safe!

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