ErthyCord’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is one of the best animated films I've ever seen. Miyazaki's work is unprecedented in the film industry. It's going to be hard to explain exactly why this film is so good because I'm only 16, and I am not that well educated in film. The story is honestly pretty simplistic. Satsuke and Mei move to the country with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother. But the way the story is told makes everything stand out. Many scenes play out where there is no explanation of what is happening; you are left to your imagination to what the scene portrays.
The relationship between Satsuke and Mei is so realistic and relatable, that it's almost scary. The way that Mei copies everything that Satsuke dos and says are exactly how other siblings interact in real life. And when Mei is by herself, she is curious and is entranced by everything she encounters. She's a four-year-old, and it makes total sense that this would play out.
My favorite part of the movie is the Totoros. They're so lovable and kind, that it's easy to forget that they are spirits of the forest. The fact that only children can see the Totoros adds the magic of it even more. The image of the towering tree over the townhouse, and the father smiling to himself unable to see what is unfolding. Or it's all just a dream, created by the children. As I said, it's up to you. Also, you gotta love the cat bus.
Overall this movie is excellent. The visuals are great, the score is amazing, and the atmosphere is something to behold. I would even say it's better than Spirited Away. While Spirited away is a much more epic film, My neighbor Totoro has more heart and emotion. During the climax of spirited away, the score rises and you watch in awe as Chihiro is taken on a magical journey. In Totoro, once Satsuke and Mei get on the Cat bus, the score tells us everything we need to know. It has a much lighter tone to it, and while it is still miraculous it conveys different emotions than what Spirited Away is trying to convey. If you have not seen Totoro I highly recommend it. It is a transcendent experience.