As I grow older, I find that my memories of my childhood take on a largely rosier tint. I guess it’s not all that surprising, really; aging tends to send some of us on a journey backwards, in vain attempts to perhaps recapture some of that elusive combination of innocence, wonder, and hope that we label the “magic of childhood.” After all, that period of time in any person’s life is a severely limited one: it is but a mere moment, precious and fleeting, gone far too soon.
You know, not to get all florid and poetical about it or anything.
But seeing as how we’re on the subject, films like Hayao Miyazaki’s beautiful anime masterpiece My Neighbor Totoro inevitably send me reeling back into the past, remembering some of those purely magical moments from my own childhood. And therein lies the power of this fascinating film, one that is both fantastical and entirely too real.
Simply put: I love this movie, I love this movie, I love this movie.
The movie has no plot, really, to speak of–it’s simply a snapshot of a young Japanese family at a trying time in their lives, as the mother recovers from an undisclosed illness in the hospital. The father, a professor at the university, spends much of his time buried in books, but still takes the time to ensure that his daughters have settled comfortably into their new home, and allays their fears of ghosts in their seemingly “haunted house.” When four-year-old Mei wanders into the nearby forest one day and encounters a mystical animal called “Totoro,” she and her older sister, Satsuki, befriend the creature and discover just how magical their big, cuddly new pal really is. (more…)