My Neighbor Totoro Facts
The Japanese poster of My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
My Neighbor Totoro, Fun Facts About The Studio Ghibli Classic by The Display

Almost all of Studio Ghibli lovers must have a special place in their hearts or minds for this fluffy flying gentle creature from “My Neighbor Totoro”. The film which was released in 1988, tells about the story of a family who moved to Japanese countryside to take care of their hospitalized mother. A father who is a professor named Tatsuo Kusakabe with his two daughters, Satsuki the elder one and Mei the youngest, have to adapt their lives once again to their new home. Growing up in an urban surrounding, the sisters have a high curiosity about their new environment. One day, Mei sees two white spirits with rabbit like ears on the backyard and she follows them and enters a hollow gap on a huge tree. It then leads to a huge discovery where a much bigger spirit named Totoro lives in. She then befriends those three forest spirits and falls asleep on top of Totoro’s huge belly. The next day, she wakes up on the backyard of her house. Having been through a magical journey, Mei wants to convince her family that she meets Totoro, to the disbelief from both her father and sister. As the story unfolds, finally Totoro reveals its existence and help the family to reunite. May 2017 has been chosen as the month of the theatrical film release for “My Neighbor Totoro” in Indonesia by The World of Ghibli Jakarta. We want to make the celebration more festive by giving the fun facts of this movie before it hits theater!

My Neighbor Totoro Facts

God of Death Theory about Totoro

This is a theory that surfaced and has been afloat for quite some time on the internet. As explains, there is a belief that says Totoro is the embodiment for the God of Death. This is not a baseless accusation, as people believe that those who can see Totoro are the ones who are already dead or on the verge of dying. Mei is considered dead, as there is a scene on the film in which she looks to a deep well. Theory says that she actually drowns in it, proven by Satsuki who can only find a shoe of her sister next to the well and Mei goes missing afterwards. Satsuki can see Totoro because during the desperate time in the search of Mei, she forcefully enters the realm of the spirit which means she’s also dead. Another being who can see Totoro and friends is the mother, who is dying. The drawings of Mei and Satsuki without their shadows are also another proof that these characters do not belong to this world anymore. This theory has been debunked and clarified by Studio Ghibli’s website with a statement stating that the shadowless drawings were intentional and the theory appeared merely because it sounds interesting to his/her who believes and spreads it. Phew, it could end up as a twisted story if it’s true though.

My Neighbor Totoro Facts
Hayao Miyazaki on Academy Awards Red Carpet
Source: Japan Times

Hayao Miyazaki’s Breakthrough Film

This is a milestone for Hayao Miyazaki as a writer and director for Studio Ghibli as the 76-year-old man made a name for himself with My Neighbor Totoro. This was due to the high impact the movie received whether from the public or the critics after it was being launched. Previously he has directed and filmed two titles for Studio Ghibli which are “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” in 1984 and “Castle In The Sky” in 1986. Little did we know that the film initially did not do really well on the theater. Two years after its release, the feedback for Totoro was an all time high, and the magical creature has since became the symbol for Studio Ghibli as well as the character that everyone loved in Japan. Now, the movie is certified fresh on a movie critic website, Rotten Tomatoes earning the percentage of 93%.

Double Billing Release with The Grave of The Fireflies

In 1988, My Neighbor Totoro was released as a double bill with another movie from Studio Ghibli called “The Grave of The Fireflies”. What exactly is a double bill? It’s a special feature in which the audience only pay for singular ticket price and get two movies in return. If Tonari no Totoro is a feel good movie with only a few emotional scenes, you should grab a lot of tissues for “The Grave of The Fireflies”. The movie that tells a story of a sibling at the end of World War 2 has managed to make our tears flow like river and it was written and directed by Isao Takahata. If you enjoy a more tragic and heartwarming story, then you might want to check out “The Grave of The Fireflies”.

My Neighbor Totoro Facts
Totoro as a cameo on Toy Story 3

Totoro Appeared on Toy Story 3

Totoro shows its popularity beyond Japan as the English version of the film also hit success in the US and other Western countries. Its impact even reached Pixar animation studios when they decided to insert a Totoro cameo in a form of plush doll in “Toy Story 3″. The franchise movie about toys that come to life acknowledged the little part that the fluffy creature and Pixar’s Chief John Lasseter said during its promotional event, “We do little homages in our films, and we thought it was a very appropriate homage to let (Miyazaki and his film company) Studio Ghibli know how much they mean to us.” Maybe in the future we could see a joint venture between these two animation studios? Moreover, Totoro also has made other appearances on Studio Ghibli’s films as well as other Japanese animations.

My Neighbor Totoro Facts
The miniature of Satsuki and Mei’s house on display

The Scenes Come to Life

During the press conference of The World of Ghibli Jakarta launching, there was a little exhibition going on. There we could witness some artworks on display and there was a miniature from Studio Ghibli that are made of ice cream sticks and wooden scraps, paper, and many more. You could see the miniature of Neko Bus (Catbus) made of wood, an exact miniature duplicating Satsuki and Mei’s house at the countryside, as well as the scene where the family has just moved in with their huge luggage and relatively small car. You could see other miniatures and artworks during the exhibition held in August.

My Neighbor Totoro Facts
Dakota and Elle Fanning

Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning as Dubbers

My Neighbor Totoro went through English adaptation twice, one during 1993, and another in 2005. The first adaptation did not satisfy Hayao Miyazaki and up to its license expiration date, the license holders did not do justice to the film. In 2005, Disney holds the new rights for the adaptation and distribution for this animation and for the roles of Satsuki and Mei, they cast real sisters, Dakota and Elle Fanning as the dubbers. The dubbing process and the adaptation was supervised by Studio Ghibli to avoid misinterpretation like what happened in the English adaptaion of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Hayao Miyazaki prohibited the change of the characters’ name, places, in exception of Catbus. After the success of its release, Disney then continues their partnership with Studio Ghibli for other English releases of other films like “Ponyo”, “Spirited Away”, “Princess Mononoke” and the latest was “The Wind Rises” among many others.

My Neighbor Totoro Facts
Mei (left) and Satsuki (right)

May, Mei, and Satsuki

May in Japanese is called “Satsuki” while Mei is the Japanese pronounciation of the English word “May”. My Neighbor Totoro is full of May’s spirit as the family is moved to the suburb during spring time in May. So, do you still wonder why The World of Ghibli Jakarta decided to release this film in theater on May? We see what you did there…

With these facts and stories surrouding the magical film, would you still miss out the opportunity to watch (or re-watch) My Neighbor Totoro in theater? You’d better not, head here to secure your ticket to the show and psst, there’s an awesome merchandise waiting for you if you place your tickets.