It's a Ghost House.

Huh? A Ghost House!

My Neighbor Totoro also in Hepburn (Tonari no Totoro) is a 1988 Japanese animated children fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. It follows the story of two young daughters of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. It was premiered on 16 April 1988 same day as Grave of the Fireflies. Streamline Pictures dubbed and distributed an English dub version. In 2004, the English dub rights expired and Disney picked it up and distributed the film in 2006.

Plot Edit

In 1958 Japan, university professor Tatsuo Kusakabe and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, move into an old house to be closer to the hospital where their mother Yasuko is recovering from a long-term illness. Satsuki and Mei find that the house is inhabited by tiny animated dust creatures called susuwatari - small, dark, dust-like house spirits seen when moving from light to dark places. When the girls become comfortable in their new house and laugh with their father, the soot spirits leave the house to drift away on the wind. It is implied that they are going to find another empty house- their natural habitat.

Järnaborna känner Mei från Totoro

Mei follow a Little totoro

One day, Mei sees two white, rabbit-like ears in the grass and follows the ears under the house. She discovers two small magical creatures who lead her through a briar patch and into the hollow of a large camphor tree. She meets and befriends a larger version of the same kind of spirit, which identifies itself by a series of roars that she interprets as Totoro. She falls asleep atop the large totoro, but when Satsuki finds her, she is on the ground in a dense briar clearing. Despite her many attempts, Mei is unable to show her family Totoro's tree. Her father comforts her by telling her that this is the keeper of the forest, and that Totoro will reveal himself when he wants to.

Totoro newsite21

The Girls waiting their father along with Totoro

One rainy day, the girls are waiting for father's bus and grow worried when he does not arrive on the bus they expect him on. As they wait, Mei eventually falls asleep on Satsuki's back and Totoro appears beside them, allowing Satsuki to see him for the first time. He only has a leaf on his head for protection against the rain, so Satsuki offers him the umbrella she had taken along for the father. Totoro is delighted as both the shelter and the sounds made upon it by falling raindrops. In return, he gives her a bundle of nuts and seeds. A bus-shaped giant cat halts at the stop, and Totoro boards it, taking the umbrella. Shortly after, their father's bus arrives.

The girls plant the seeds. A few days later, they awaken at midnight to find Totoro and his two miniature colleagues engaged in a ceremonial dance around the planted nuts and seeds. The girls join in, whereupon the seeds sprout and then grow and combine into an enormous tree. Totoro takes his colleagues and the girls for a ride on a magical flying top. In the morning, the tree is gone, but the seeds have indeed sprouted.

The girls find out that a planned visit by Yasuko has to be postponed because of a setback in her treatment. Satsuki' disappointed and worries tells Mei the bad news, which Mei does not take well. This leads into an argument between the two, ending in Satsuki angrily yelling at Mei and stomping off. Mei decides to walk to the hospital to bring some fresh corn to her mother.

Mei's disappearance prompts Satsuki and the neighbors to search for her. Eventually, Satsuki returns in desperation to the camphor tree and pleads for Totoro's help. Delighted to be of assistance, he summons the Catbus, which carries her to where the lost Mei sits. Having rescued her, the Catbus then whisks her and Satsuki over the countryside to see their mother in the hospital. The girls perch in a tree outside of the hospital, overhearing a conversation between their parents and discovering that she has been kept in hospital by a minor cold and is otherwise doing well. They secretly leave the ear of corn on the windowsill, where it is discovered by the parents, and return home on the Catbus. When the Catbus departs, it disappears from the girls' sight

In the end credits, Mei and Satsuki's mother returns home, and the sisters play with other children, with Totoro and his friends as unseen observers.

Cast of charactersEdit

Character Japanese English (Tokuma/Fox/50th Street films, 1993) English (Disney, 2005)
Satsuki Kusakabe Noriko Hidaka Lisa Michelson Dakota Fanning
Mei Kusakabe Chika Sakamoto Cheryl Chase Elle Fanning
Tatsuo Kusakabe(father) Shigesato Itoi Greg Snegoff Tim Daly
Yasuko Kusakabe


Sumi Shimamoto Alexandra Kenworthy Lea Salonga
Totoro Hitoshi Takagi unstated Frank Welker
Catbus Naoko Tatsuka Carl Macek Frank Welker
Nanny / Granny Tanie Kitabayashi Natalie Core Pat Carroll
Kanta Okagi Toshiyuki Amagasa Kenneth Hartman Paul Butcher

Production, Release, and ReceptionEdit


Art director Kazuo Oga was drawn to the film when Hayao Miyazaki showed him an original image of Totoro standing in a satoyama. The director challenged Oga to raise his standards, and Oga's experience with My Neighbor Totoro jump-started the artist's career. Oga and Miyazaki debated the palette of the film, Oga seeking to paint black soil from Akita Prefecture and Miyazaki preferring the color of red soil from the Kantō region. The ultimate product was described by Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki: "It was nature painted with translucent colors."

Oga's conscientious approach to My Neighbor Totoro was a style that the International Herald Tribune recognized as "[updating] the traditional Japanese animist sense of a natural world that is fully, spiritually alive". The newspaper described the final product:   Oga's work on My Neighbor Totoro led to his continued involvement with Studio Ghibli. The studio assigned jobs to Oga that would play to his strengths, and Oga's style became a trademark style of Studio Ghibli.

The opening sequence of the film was not storyboarded, Miyazaki said. "The sequence was determined through permutations and combinations determined by the time sheets. Each element was made individually and combined in the time sheets..." The ending sequence depicts the mother's return home and the signs of her return to good health by playing with Satsuki and Mei outside.

The storyboard depicts the town of Matsuko as the setting, with the year being 1955; Miyazaki stated that it was not exact and the team worked on a setting "in the recent past". The film was originally set to be an hour long, but throughout the process it grew to respond to the social context including the reason for the move and the father's occupation.

Miyazaki has said that Totoro is "not a spirit: he's only an animal. I believe he lives on acorns. He's supposedly the forest keeper, but that's only a half-baked idea, a rough approximation." The character of Mei was modeled on Miyazaki's niece.


After writing and filming Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and Castle in the Sky (1986), Hayao Miyazaki began directing My Neighbor Totoro for Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki's production paralleled his colleague Isao Takahata's production of Grave of the Fireflies. Miyazaki's film was financed by executive producer Yasuyoshi Tokuma, and both My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies were released on the same bill in 1988. The dual billing was considered "one of the most moving and remarkable double bills ever offered to a cinema audience".[1]

In 1993, Fox Video released the Streamline Pictures dub of My Neighbor Totoro on VHS and Laserdisc. However, because of his disappointment with the result of the heavily edited English version of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki would not permit any part of the movie to be edited out, all the names had to remain the same (with the exception being Catbus), the translation had to be as close to the original Japanese as possible, and no part of the movie could be changed for any reason, cultural or linguistic (which was very common at the time) despite creating problems with some English viewers, particularly in explaining the origin of the name "Totoro". It was produced by John Daly and Derek Gibson, with co-producer Jerry Beck. 20th Century Fox held all rights to the Streamline Pictures dub of the film until their rights to the dub expired in 2004. Disney's English-language dub premiered on October 23, 2005; it then appeared at the 2005 Hollywood Film Festival. The Turner Classic Movies cable television network held the television premiere of Disney's new English dub on January 19, 2006, as part of the network's salute to Hayao Miyazaki. (TCM aired the dub as well as the original Japanese with English subtitles.) The Disney version was initially released on DVD on March 7, 2006, but is now out of print. This version was also released by Madman Entertainment in Australia, and Optimum Releasing in the United Kingdom. A reissue of Totoro, Castle in the Sky, and Kiki's Delivery Service featuring updated cover art highlighting its Studio Ghibli origins was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on March 2, 2010, coinciding with the US DVD and Blu-ray debut of Ponyo. This 2010 DVD release remains in print. It was later released on Blu-Ray Disc. GKIDS will re-issue the film on Blu-ray & DVD on October 17, 2017.[2]

As is the case with Disney's other English dubs of Miyazaki films, the Disney version of Totoro features a star-heavy cast, including Dakota and Elle Fanning as Satsuki and Mei, Timothy Daly as Mr. Kusakabe, Pat Carroll as Granny, Lea Salonga as Mrs. Kusakabe, and Frank Welker as Totoro and Catbus. The songs for the new dub retained the same translation as the previous dub, but were sung by Sonya Isaacs.


Mei and the Kittenbus (Mei to Konekobasu) is thirteen minute sequel to My Neighbor Totoro.

Media Edit


  • 16 April 1988 Original is released in Japanese theatres alongside with Grave of the Fireflies.
  • August 1988 Original VHS release of all world
  • Spring 1993 The English dub from 50th Street Films is released in theatres.
  • Summer 1994 The Troma dub is released on VHS by Fox Video.
  • 27 June 1997 Newer VHS release
  • Autumn 2001 DVD release
  • 2002 The Streamline Pictures dub is released on DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
  • 2004 Fox's rights to the English dub expire, with Disney taking the rights.
  • 2006 The Disney dub is released on DVD.
  • 2010 The Disney dub is released on another DVD.
  • 2013 The Disney Dub is released on Blu-ray.
  • Summer 2014 DVD release by Japan
  • December 2014 Re-original is released in USA theaters from Astro Boy Productions includes Streamline dub.
  • January 2016 The videostylist players release in private from Astro Boy Timeless Classics.


Awards and nominations Edit

Year Title Award Category Result
1989 My Neighbor Totoro Kinema Junpo Awards Kinema Junpo Award – Best Film Won


Readers' Choice Award – Best Japanese Film Won


Mainichi Film Award Best Film Won


Ofuji Noburo Award Won


Blue Ribbon Awards Special Award Won


Animage Anime Awards Grand Prix prize Won


1995 Saturn Awards Best Genre Video Release Nominated


  • My Neighbor Totoro has release on cinema as same day as Grave of the Fireflies.
  • Both of the actresses for the sisters (Cheryl Chase as Mei and the late Lisa Michelson as Satsuki) in the Streamline version (And in the japanse version which Chika Satamoto as Mei) were born in 1958, when the film takes place.
  • Speaking of the Streamline version, Greg Snegnoff (Dad) was married to (and left by) Lisa Michelson (Satsuki).
  • In the Disney dub, the sisters were voiced by real-life sisters.
  • In private of Astro Boy Timeless Classics, in dedicated of Lisa Michelson (Satsuki) on theatres for Christmas 2014 and on VHS and Laserdisc for January 2016.
  • There is parody tittled "My Neighbor Pedoro" in Gintama episode 48 is a parody of "My Neighbor Totoro".

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