If you have watched the movie, ‘My Neighbour Totoro’, then read on and if you haven’t, then I must say, go watch it first. Also, this is not a spoiler, so you can still read on if you haven’t watched the film.
I happened to watch it thanks to my friend Arathi and I loved the film so much, that I thought I should share my thoughts with everyone. So here goes…
A fantasy filled story of two young Japanese sisters Satsuki and Mei, ‘My neighbour Totoro’ skillfully collects the tender moments of their childhood and weaves a remarkable tale full of love. Crafted from the heart, the narrative is soaked in beautiful human emotions. It subtly depicts the positive facets of human nature, like love, sacrifice, wonder, empathy, maturity, determination and the like. And with you realizing slowly, it also takes you through a beautiful nostalgia, a journey back into your own childhood, to the days of simplicity, pure heart and joy.
What l loved
As the movie started to play, the picturesque scenes of rural Japan, as drawn beautifully throughout the story, stole my heart. It was almost like I could feel the fresh air, experience the unaltered nature and hearts of the people (like the sweet old granny who loves the two little girls like her own and naturally owns up to provide them with the warmth and love of a mother). The first glimpse of the two sisters, reminded me of me and my sister (in fact, as a kid, my sister had the exact same haircut as Satsuki 😛 ) which rapidly made my connection with them organic.
At the outset, as they move into their house in the countryside, I adored how little Mei would just copy everything her elder sister would do, as they go about exploring life around them. Mei is a brave little comrade of her sister. Naturally unafraid, like a tiny explorer, she ends up discovering the magical world of Totoro. She is very determined too, as is evident from the end when she runs away all alone, with the freshly harvested corn (hence good for health), to help cure her ailing mother.
On one hand I was inspired by the determination of Mei and on the other, I was struck by the maturity of Satsuki and her love towards little Mei. In the absence of their mother at home, young Satsuki has to play the role of the mother. She takes care of her baby sister very responsibly and comprehends the difference between right and wrong behaviour. For e.g. being her age and during a time of crisis, she understands that her outburst at little Mei was unnecessary, an act which indeed touched me a lot. I also loved how she lets a snoozing Mei, sleep on her back, despite the uneasiness of standing in the rain, balancing the umbrella and patiently waiting for their father to return. Acting as the mother, she also takes care of their father, when at night in the rain, she sets out with her little sister to pick him up from the bus stop, after realizing that he has forgotten to carry his umbrella.
It is these small joys, discoveries, heartbreaks of childhood, that make this story, very special. These emotions may not be unique to humans, but they are unique to a child who is experiencing them for the first time. Like how Mei meets a dust bunny for the first time, or instantly feels comfortable with Totoro, or when Satsuki wants to meet Totoro after listening about him from Mei, or when she plucks her first ear of corn from the field. Moments like these are very small when compared with the multitude of life’s events, but these are of great importance for a child. And when the child turns into an adult, in the library of numerous faint childhood memories (in her/his mind), these are the episodes, that peak out prominently and shine on as eternal sources of joy.
Aside from these moments, as I was saying earlier, what touched me the most, was how the story reminded me of my childhood days, of the lovely times which I spent with my elder sister. She was (is) my first friend, my teacher in many ways, almost a second (read strict) mother, the script writer of our childhood games and more often than not, the Boss :P. In many ways, her and I were like Satsuki and Mei, like, I would shadow her, sincerely copy her actions, how together we would explore the neighborhood, or how I would want to hangout/play with her and her friends. With all these little anecdotes, Totoro surely took me for a small trip down the most beautiful of the memory lanes. And I must say, I just felt grateful for that 😊.
So in case you haven’t watched the movie and reading this article, watch it 😊. It will certainly make you feel warm and happy inside.
My best moments from ‘My Neighbour Totoro’
- When Mei runs after the little Totoros and they stumble into a nervous run
- When Mei unable to stay alone, goes to school and proudly sits in Satsuki’s class, beaming with happiness
- When Satsuki cleans up Mei, after she stumbles on the muddy road, while running back from school amidst the rain
- When Satsuki writes to her mother that Mei has started to look like a crab sitting in front of the buried seeds, waiting for them to sprout and how she actually makes a sketch of a crab (the best one)
- When Satsuki lets Mei sleep on her back, while waiting in the rain, for their father to arrive
- When a very determined Mei runs with the Corn, to heal her ailing mother
Some movies like ‘My neighbor Totoro’ which I love
- Christopher Robin
- Despicable me series