The easier it is to watch incredible animated features, the better, and with Studio Ghibli movies finding their way onto Netflix, it seems like it’ll be easier and easier to engage with an aspect of film history that I have otherwise evaded until now. My introduction to the series of films came in the form of the harrowing Grave of the Fireflies, and since then I’ve been somewhat hooked by the likes of Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service. They’re all incredibly nice-looking films, with some nice plots to engage a younger audience but with timeless re-watchability that’ll make it a treat for older audiences also. I find myself in the latter category, and my first time viewing of My Neighbour Totoro was an absolute blast.
Perhaps this was such a comfortable watch because of how simplistic the storyline is. It gets to a point where you’ll question whether or not My Neighbour Totoro really needs a storyline, let alone has one. Following the adventure of two sisters who move into a house with their father, that’s about as complex as the film can get. It’s an extremely charming ordeal though, one that uses its free flowing style and plot to further extend our time with enjoyable characters that have that Ghibli charm to them.
This charm flows through the entire movie with relative ease. That instantly recognisable animation style really has a certain appeal to it, with a truly homely nature and appeal to this sort of hand crafted, painstaking style. It works wonders here; a style contrived of all the typical flourishes you’ve come to expect from Ghibli at this point in their history.
Because there’s so little plot, there’s also very little to talk of outside of the animation skill on display. There are a few details hidden throughout My Neighbour Totoro that could suggest a larger plot, but it’s nothing short of happy endings all round. To some this may feel like a cop-out, an avoidance of consequences that should, for better or worse, be indulged by a children’s film. I thought it was a nice break to have a film that had relatively nothing of importance happen, and I’d argue it’s harder to make a good film out of nothing than out of intrinsically crafted stories.
Relying on the comfortably engaging animation throughout, My Neighbour Totoro is a warm film that will have no trouble connecting with even the most stony-hearted individuals. Even I enjoyed it, which is more praise than I could ever heap onto a film where literally nothing of importance happens for its entire running time. Warm, humble and just the right mixture of zany stylishness and overt happiness, My Neighbour Totoro is probably the fluffiest film ever created.