My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro ★★★★★

Totoro: "911, what's your emergency?"
Satsuki: "Please help me, Mei's missing!"
Totoro: "Okay, hop on my Catbus"

One of the very, very few films to make me tearful not because of sadness but of pure magic, joy, and beauty. Even up until this fourth viewing, My Neighbor Totoro remains a special film that has carved a place in my heart. Watched it again to see if it can keep Fellowship of the Ring out of my all-time top ten. And though Fellowship has now broken its way into the ten, it doesn't mean I love Totoro any less. In fact, I like it even more and this holds true with every watch.

This is the definition of an ear-to-ear smile. Never has My Neighbor Totoro disappointed me when I come running back to it in search of comfort. It's all about the vibe, man. This is the bliss of life. Green trees, blue skies, puffy white clouds, blooming flowers, fresh rural air, and big, warm hugs... oh how I wish it was like this everyday. This really takes me back to my childhood; it captures the feeling of being a small, carefree, and energetic kid so perfectly. It's impossible not to miss those days and feel some sort of emotional connection.

Reminiscing on days of being a child so happy yet so afraid and fragile, I thought that it hasn't that been that long. We age mentally, physically, and socially, but the child within us never leaves. Sometimes, it just goes for a stroll. Moments of vulnerability and anxiety throw us adults into a dark place that's hard to escape from. But that's exactly when we should channel some of that inner four-year-old within us.

A lot of things don't make sense in My Neighbor Totoro. But taking a cue from a great David Lynch quote, never expect art to be sensible when life itself is not sensible. Lots of things don't make sense but people are happy. Viewing the world from the eyes of a child help us see the things we've overlooked and underappreciated as grumpy grown-ups. In the recent months of my life, I've felt closer to God by just staring up at the sky, basking in the sunlight, and feeling drops of rain on my skin. It's so spiritual and I experience a rare joy. This I owe to Hayao Miyazaki's animated masterpiece.

No, happiness and whimsy won't solve everything. But they remind us that this insensible life is more than just a hurdle to jump over and it is worth living for. Moments of friendship, fun, innocence, and laughter, no matter how fleeting they are in the grand picture, are the real treasures of life. And sadly, as we grow up, we lose sight of the treasure. Life is too brief to be frowning all the time; watch My Neighbor Totoro and smile!

So I was hoping to talk more about how the film relates to post-war Japan, which is 'real' and 'fictional', how the mystery of the other sandal in the pond and related theories are way too grim to be correct, how much Akira Kurosawa loved the Catbus, or how the credits in Ghibli movies keep on telling us what happens after the main story presented, but those topics may be reserved for another time. Longer review than I was planning but it's so hard for me to just shut up about a movie like this. Unreal. One of my favorite films of all time. Thanks for reading and stay safe, everyone. Positivity wins!

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