My Neighbour Totoro opens in 1958 and we are introduced to a university professor and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei. They are moving into an old house in rural Japan to be closer to the hospital where their mother is recovering from an long-term illness. whilst exploring the old house and it’s surroundings one day, they discover small magical like creatures that range from little soot spirits to dwarf like creatures that are able to vanish into thin air. Upon following them they come across a large spirit called Totoro, a creature that is dubbed ‘keeper of the forest’. What follows are the extraordinary adventures of the two girls as they are introduced to the other spirits of the forest (one being a rather bizarre cat-bus) and emotional journey as they come to grips with their mother’s illness.
Released by Studio Ghibli in 1988 to worldwide acclaim, Hayao Miyazaki has weaved together quite a touching story of two girls extraordinary adventures of discovering the forest spirits whilst coming to terms with their mother’s illness. The animation for the time is of such good quality that you’ll find yourself admiring the detail that went into the background landscapes. It’s a real feel good family film that deserves to be watched and part of any anime fan’s collection.
My Neighbour Totoro is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is encoded onto Blu-ray with a MPEG-4 AVC codec. The level of detail between the background plates and animated cells really give the transfer a three dimension quality to it. Colours were not excessively vibrant but helped present the film with a natural look. The detail on the background landscapes were very impressive and highlighted the amount of work that the animators put in. the print itself was crisp and clear with no visible damages or scratches. If I had to be picky, I would say that I found the black levels were dialled a bit too high for my preferences. I did notice a small amount of telecine wobble during a few scenes but this didn’t ruin the enjoyment of the film. I couldn’t see any evidence of any post processing filtering either (Digital Noise Reduction or Edge Enhancement for example).
My Neighbour Totoro is presented with two audio tracks. The original Japanese audio and an English dubbed audio mix. Both are presented in PCM 2.0 (48Khz). I primarily watched the film with the English dubbed track but from time to time toggled between the two audio tracks. The overall mix is good but mastered at a slightly lower volume as I was reaching for my remote to adjust the audio on my amplifier at first. Once adjusted, the mix is balanced nicely between the front speakers. Dialogue is clear and the music does carry the film’s emotions nicely. There are a few highlights of the audio mix that will give the speakers a small workout. These scenes involve Totoro calling out at the top of his voice and the roars that he delivered did sound quite aggressive. The only complaint I would have is the overall simplicity of the US dub. This can be seen listening to the US dub with the English subtitles turned on. The difference between the translations can be quite interesting. I would recommend listening to the original Japanese audio track. The subtitles for the film are presented in a yellow font and sits in the picture well.
Any bonus features that are presented in High Definition will be indicated
Storyboards: A Picture in Picture feature that runs alongside the entire film, The original hand drawn storyboards take up ¼ of the bottom right screen
Creating my Neighbour Totoro: An interview with director Hayao Miyazaki. Runtime 02:58
Creating the Characters: An interview with the producer Toru Hara. Run time 04:23
The Totoro Experience: A behind the scenes look at how Totoro came to life Run time 01:59
Producer Perspective: Creating Ghilbi: A behind the scenes look at the Producer’s creation of Ghibli. Run time 01:23
The location of Totoro: The longest featurette on the disc looks at the real word locations that inspired the animators. Run time 28:48
Scoring Miyazaki: A behinds the scenes look at creating the score. Run time 07:18
Behind the microphone: A brief look at the US voice casts recording sessions. Run time 05:40
Text less Opening (HD): The opening title sequence is presented without any credits. Run time 02:11
Text less Closing (HD): The closing end credits sequence is presented without any credits. Run time 02:01
Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers: A very brief trailer for My Neighbour Totoro. Run time 0:44
Studio Ghilbi Collection Trailers: A trailer reel featuring Arrietty, Laputa & Ponyo. Run time 04:10
My first experience with My Neighbour Totoro was when i was studying Japanese at school. Our teacher brought it in on VHS with no subtitles or dubbing but was pointing out parts of Japanese culture throughout the first 45 minutes. it’s always been my intention to watch the film fully and i’m glad that I’ve finally got round to seeing it. It’s a real good family film that needs to be seen. Studio Canal respectfully presents the film in High Definition that showcases the film’s superb animation.
Studio Canal’s Release of My Neighbour Totoro will be released as a Blu-ray / DVD Double Play set. The DVD was not available for this review