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My Neighbor Totoro – The Extraordinary Journey to the Childhood

Half of the world knows about the Studio Ghibli and the master storyteller and animator Hayao Miyazaki. He is the writer, director, animator and a legend. He has given some of the world’s best and unforgettable animated movies like the My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Whisper of the Heart, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke.

The ability of Miyazaki to combine the ordinary story with the Japanese folklore and mysteries yet exotic creatures, is well known. Studio Ghibli is well known for its hand painted animation which employs the old method of animation technique. The bright, vivid watercolor and acrylic painting especially the green stand out in the animation. The animation just comes alive. Those who have grown up watching the Studio Ghibli movies will remember My Neighbor Totoro with great nostalgia.

The story of two young girls and Totoro is just extraordinary. The character Totoro has been featured in many movies and is one of the most beloved animated characters of all time. He is even on the official logo of Studio Ghibli. He has inspired many merchandise including toys and t-shirt designs. A whole Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka, Tokyo is dedicated to him.

Let’s plunge into the world of Totoro…..

Totoro – the lovable, somewhat mysterious character

Totoro is believed to be a forest spirit, which lives in the large camphor tree. They come in various sizes. In the movie My Neighbor Totoro there are three of them – one large, one medium and other one the smallest.  Apart from the movie My Neighbor Totoro, Totoro has also featured in movies like Toy Story 3 and Dragon Pickles and Philoctetes Team Up.

Totoro is large, with grey fur and a beige belly. He also has arrow like markings on his chest. His long whiskers stand out and he has pointy fingers, large paws, large round eyes and a pug nose. The large Totoro is the king of the forest and the leading spirit of the forest.

Totoro in My Neighbor Totoro

The story of the My Neighbor Totoro follows the life of two daughters of a professor who moves to the country side to be close to his sick wife who is currently receiving treatment in a medical facility.

The two girls Satsuki and Mei find the house mysterious and go exploring. Soon they find dark, small but totally harmless creatures in the dark corners of the house.  This excites both of the girls and they giggle and play while setting up their new home. Soon it’s time for Satsuki to go to school leaving the younger Mie at home. While playing in the backyard, Mei discovers the small Totoro and she follows him all the way to the jungle and into the burrow like place inside the trees. There she meets the big Totoro sleeping peacefully. Mei is just excited to meet the forest sprit and soon falls asleep. When she wakes up, Mei finds herself on the clearing with her father and sister looking for her. No one believes her when she tells them what she saw and this makes her angry.

One day when both the girls are waiting for their father at the bus stop, Totoro comes along. Mie is asleep, but Satsuki gets the chance to meet the forest spirit. She offers him her umbrella and gets an acorn in return. One day Mei is upset and wants to see her mother. She goes to see her all alone. Satsuki gets worried and starts looking for her. The forest spirit Totoro comes and rescues both of them and even takes them to the hospital in its cat like bus.

Influence of Totoro

Totoro is one of the most popular animated characters. It is the forest spirit that blesses the girls and makes them happy in the end. Totoro has a huge fan following all around the world. There is huge merchandise to prove how popular he is with the fans.


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