My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)

TotoroI have been on a Stu­dio Ghi­b­li mini-ben­der this week, in cel­e­bra­tion of the fact that My Neigh­bor Totoro has final­ly been re-released on dvd, with a new Eng­lish dub and the Japan­ese sound­track.

My Neigh­bor Totoro is eas­i­ly one of my favorite Stu­dio Ghi­b­li films. The Eng­lish sound­track from the US VHS release was def­i­nite­ly a bit screechy and left a lot to be desired, but it nev­er pre­vent­ed me from falling in love with the movie. What a dis­ap­point­ment it was when I learned that the Fox dvd release includ­ed nei­ther the Japan­ese sound­track nor Eng­lish sub­ti­tles. The Dis­ney re-release promis­es to be all that I had been hop­ing for. I am anx­ious­ly await­ing deliv­ery from Ama­zon.

In the mean­time, I amused myself with Howl’s Mov­ing Cas­tle and Pom Poko.

Pom Poko sur­prised me. It took me some time to be drawn in to the sto­ry, which involves shape-shift­ing rac­coons and their strug­gle to sur­vive in the face of encroach­ing human sub­urbs. Straight­for­ward enough, I sup­pose. The rac­coon com­mu­ni­ty has to decide between a mod­er­ate­ly suc­cess­ful non-vio­lent approach and a grow­ing pres­sure towards mil­i­tan­cy and open war­fare. What was sur­pris­ing was the sub­tle role of the “rac­coon pouch.” Although usu­al­ly back­ground­ed, there would occa­sion­al­ly be a bold and bizarre use of the mag­i­cal rac­coon ball­sack. This nev­er failed to knock me off bal­ance. Espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing that the US release comes from Dis­ney. Any­way, this strange humor only added to my enjoy­ment of the film. Def­i­nite­ly worth adding to your Net­flix queue.

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