Giant troll touches hearts with warmth

If a person has seen “My Neighbor Totoro,” and it didn’t trigger at least a little bit of childhood glee in their mind, then they must have the heart of a jellyfish. (Hint: Jellyfish don’t have hearts, or brains for that matter.)

The story follows two sisters who move into a haunted house built in a small village in Japan around 1958. The girls move there with their father to be closer to their mother, who is in the hospital with a long-term illness. They spot little soot sprites hiding in various places in the house, which piques their interest in the mythical presences living in the forest around their home. This being a small village, they confront an elder, and she assures them that the odd apparitions are harmless, and only appear when they want to be seen.

“My Neighbor Totoro” was one of Miyazaki’s first movies to be recognized as having a bit of magic and fever dream wrapped up in it. The fever dream aspect comes in when Totoro is introduced. Totoro is supposed to be a mean troll, but Miyazaki decided to make him look like a giant magical hamster with each of his teeth being the size of a small child. Despite the fact that some of the characters are blatantly terrifying, (I’m talking about you, CatBus.) they end up helping the girls in the long run, when the girls’ mom gets sicker.

Totoro is about as recognizable as Winnie the Pooh in some countries. Because of this fame, Totoro seems to find himself with a cameo in countless T.V. shows and movies. Sometimes the fanbase gets pretty weird, though. In 1994, an asteroid in the asteroid belt was discovered and named Totoro. There is also a type of flatworm native to Vietnam cutely named Eoperipatus totoro because of it being “a many-legged animal.” Why they named it Totoro instead of CatBus is beyond me, since it actually kind of looks like CatBus.

This movie has kind of become crucial to pop culture, and is an all around awesome movie at the same time.