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I have always loved animated movies. In a time when our health is a top priority, I find comfort in stepping out of reality for a bit. I recently watched “My Neighbor Totoro” for the first time, and I can’t believe I waited this long to watch it. It’s a heartwarming movie about a giant, loving forest spirit that comes to the aid of Mei and Satsuki, who are sisters going through a tough time while their mother is in the hospital. This story is full of adventure, enchanting magic, and powerful, sisterly love. Although these characteristics pretty much make the movie, there are many other aspects that make this movie a must-see.

The graphics and details put into this film are absolutely amazing. The landscape illustrations are insanely close to a real landscape. In one scene, the Catbus runs through the fields of tall grass and it all blows over as if you reached through the screen and brushed it with your own hand. The food is another illustration that really wows me; it looks so authentic that my mouth actually starts watering just at the sight of it, literally. My favorite scene is where Satsuki makes a bento box for Mei’s lunch. I love Japanese food, so I looked up a recipe for it on Pinterest to try my own. I’m definitely trying it out when I get the chance.

I don’t think the casting for these roles could have been any more perfect. Dakota and Elle Fanning play Mei and Satsuki in the American translation and they fully immersed themselves into their character. Since they’re sisters in real life, it allowed for their portrayal as sisters in the movie to be much more realistic. The role of Granny is played by Pat Carroll, who also voices Ursula in The Little Mermaid. She has this raspiness in her voice that reminds me of my grandma. She has so many years of wisdom, much like my grandma, and you can hear it in her voice. 

This movie also brings back many of my childhood memories. When I was younger, I watched many Disney movies. They always brought so much light in my life and showed me the power of being kind. Mei and Satsuki’s mom has a long term illness, so to help her recover, the family moves closer to the hospital in the countryside of Japan. This makes the situation hard for their dad because he works a lot, so Mei and Satsuki have to adapt to a life of independence. When they run into trouble, such as waiting in the pouring rain for their dad, or when Mei runs away, Totoro and the other forest spirits arrive at their side to help solve the problem. Although this is technically considered a kids movie, I still enjoy it because it allows me to feel that childhood innocence again. It also brings me so much hope in a time when fear sometimes exceeds happiness.

There are many elements that come together and make this movie so wonderful; from the graphics, to casting, to the sense of comfort it brings. I highly recommend watching it because it draws a parallel to the current situation in the world. In the movie, Satsuki feels hopeless after Mei runs away and no one can find her, but with the help of Totoro and Catbus, they are reunited in the end. Just like Satsuki, we are feeling hopeless and uncertain of what our future holds, but with the help of others, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

 

Edited by Devyn Osborne

Allison Ball is a sophomore at West Virginia University studying English. She enjoys reading, writing, and attending football games.
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