Tonari no Totoro (1988)
Pleasant and good-natured fable about two young sisters who move with their father to the Japanese countryside and befriends a furry, enigmatic forest spirit living in a giant tree. Set in a post-war rural environment, the film celebrates traditional Japanese family life and nursing systems in which politeness, trust and nature are keywords. The film is uncritical or oblivious to social issues – what interests filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki is existentialism slash magic from children’s point of view. Miyazaki has a better connection with his inner child than most of us – he captures a well of details concerning children's perception of the world, details which, for most grown-ups, adulthood will have washed away or at least blurred. As such, My Neighbor Totoro may have more in store for adults than for children, because it is more about recapturing childhood phenomena than creating magic. Totoro himself, for instance, is mostly unexpressive and non-communicative. His mere existence is sufficient. The film is slow and not particularly narrative, but it has an earnest sweetness which will ring true for many viewers.