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My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – DVD Review

My Neighbor Totoro DVD cover art


Written and Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Adapted Into English by: Carl Macek
English Adaptation Directed by: Greg Snegoff
Starring: Lisa Michaelson, Cheryl Chase, Greg Snegoff, Kenneth Hartman, Alexandra Kenworthy


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Released by: Fox
Region: 1
Rating: G
Anamorphic: Nope; full-frame only.

My Advice: Own it (updated: newer version available, read on)

Satsuki and Mei (voiced in the English version by Michaelson and Chase) have just moved into a new house along with their father (Snegoff). Their mother (Kenworthy) is in a nearby hospital and although the prognosis is good, there’s always some nervousness involved with a loved one who’s ill–especially from the perspective of the two daughters. Their new house has things to keep them busy, though: not only does it have an infestation of benign soot sprites, but Mei stumbles upon a forest spirit who lives in the vicinity of the giant camphor tree nearby.

[ad#longpost]This has got to be the best animated children’s film that I’ve seen in God knows how long. And you can tell from the opening happy (I mean happy) theme song that you’re strictly in kiddie-land. But it’s not the kind of kids’ movie that makes you want to run screaming from the room–it’s so delightful, you can’t help but enjoy the hell out of it. And the story and characterizations are magnificent. When was the last time you saw a film where the father actually believed his daughter when she assures him that she saw something supernatural out somewhere? And where the same father has a deep respect for the spiritual side of life? A film where kids act like, you know, kids: hyperactive, rambunctious and a little rowdy? This is just an animated treasure and simply underscores the hollow nature of recent efforts by Disney to save themselves. Thank God we have animators like Miyazaki in the world.

Unfortunately, this DVD release is below what a bare bones disc should need for this title. It’s full-frame only, but there’s a good reason. This is a Fox release, and Fox apparently does not own the rights to any other version but this one. The adaptation into English by Carl Macek (of Robotech) was handled by Troma originally, and then picked up by Fox. My understanding is that the aforementioned Disney owns the rights beyond this, and will probably be issuing a new dub of the film at least onto DVD. This would be a day to cheer, because Miyazaki’s work always cries out for a solid widescreen treatment. But regardless, I didn’t dock Fox my normal amount of cups because I’m just grateful this damn thing’s been released in any format on DVD.

I don’t normally recommend full-frame DVDs for anything more than a rental, but considering this is all we have right now and the film is simply that good, I urge you to go purchase this thing with all haste.

Mei from My Neighbor Totoro

Satsuki and Mei from My Neighbor Totoro

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1 comment

  • i watched the movie at school and it was the best i loved it we had to wath it to then do an assignment.