Films by Studio Ghibli have captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world. If you know about anime and have seen a few films, you have probably seen the work of Studio Ghibli. Many of their films have won awards and have become internationally popular. One of the most loved films worldwide is となりのトトロ (‘Tonari no Totoro’ meaning ‘My Neighbor Totoro’).
となりのトトロ was originally released in 1988 and was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The story follows a family who have relocated to the countryside. The father and his two young daughters Mei and Satsuki soon discover a hidden world behind their new house. Behind their house younger daughter Mei meets a huge, furry creature. Totoro is a large ball of fur, who seems to be tired most of the time. Through her relationship with Totoro, Mei is introduced to the secret spirit world that exists alongside the human world. With fantastic creatures such as the catbus (a cat who is also a bus!) this film is a fantasy feast.
The film’s English-language version was published in 1993. Hayao Miyazaki put his foot down and, against the usual procedure, didn’t allow the film to be edited for the English version. This meant that the film you watch in English (or other languages) is as close as possible to what was intended in the original Japanese film. A dubbed version was released by Disney in 2006, allowing those of us who dislike subtitles to enjoy the film as well. My Neighbour Totoro has been listed amongst the best films of the world several times. You can even see Totoro featuring in other films, such as Toy Story 3. Scientists have even named a newly discovered velvet worm Totoro!
In 2005, a full-scale version of their house was made for the World Fair in Nagoya. Since then the house now has a permanent base in the Aichi Commemorative Park in Nagakute. Although photographs are not allowed inside, you can touch everything! You can open drawers, cupboards and windows. You can hunt for the elusive sootballs or find acorns from Totoro. This is truly just like being in the world of Totoro! The details are excellent. The bath tub is a replica of the one seen in the film. Their father’s desk is a cluttered as ever. In order to visit this wonderful house, you must pre-book tickets before going. The website is only in Japanese, but can be used with a little navigation.