|Submitted by Halyn Parson |
(May 06, 2002)
I've no idea who the genius is behind this feel-good Japanese anime movie, but whoever he/she is, thank you.
This two-disc movie (60 minutes each) deals with the children Satsuki and Mei and their father as they move into this old "haunted" house. Here, they meet picture-book character Totoro, the guardian of the forest, (who resembles a 10-foot Pokemon, but more expressive and doesn't even make all those annoying sounds) and his magical crew, which includes two smaller versions of Totoro and a fur-filled CatBus. (The CatBus is a cat that is a bus...rather hard to explain, but the concept is very innovative.)
What was beautiful about this movie was the sheer simplicity and joy that it conveyed. There were no heavy artillery or metaphysical truths involved; only the happiness and maybe the nostalgia conveyed as one remembers one's childhood. The storywriters and animators were talented enough to bring Satsuki and Mei to life; particularly four-year-old Mei, who jumps and gambols and throws a temper tantrum rather authentically. (God, I really loved Mei...I was torn between wanting to hug her and wanting to bonk her head with a sledgehammer.)
One of the most poignant scenes in the movie is when Satsuki and Mei journey through the countryside in the rain, to the bus stop to wait for their father as he comes home from the university. It is raining hard, and the girls decide to meet their father and bring him his umbrella. The bus comes, but no father. The girls wait, and wait. It grows dark, and Mei falls asleep on Satsuki's back. Satsuki starts to get worried that something has happened to their father (their mother was a convalescent and was in the hospital), when a giant shape suddenly casts its shadow over them. It is Totoro, placidly standing beside her, with a leaf over its head. Silently, Satsuki hands it her father's umbrella and teaches it how to open it. Totoro's grin grows wider as he realizes that the pitter-patter of the rain on the umbrella's canvas is somehow...enjoyable. :)