My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

A film so effortlessly well-executed its only upon reflection just how unconventional it is becomes clear. So freeflowing in structure, so devoid of plot or an antagonist, elements that feel antithetical to regular children’s cinema (an unresolved subplot about an ill mother, entirely conflict-less positively portrayed parent figures) a slice of life without acts, even what turned out to be its highly marketable creatures feel natural and integral to the story rather than anything the film was made as a vehicle for.

11totoro

It feels truly of a child’s mind and infinite imagination. Humanistic, true to life in the way a child’s life is rather than the way a child’s entertainment is – at times sad, at times warm, more cognizant of adult stakes than adult figures realise. Based around exploration and interaction between relationships moreso than conflict or even development, it feels so overwhelmingly true to life and childhood, even with its zany forest spirits stoking the imagination. A wondrous, lovely experience. Four soot spirits and a Catbus.

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