5 Conversations to Have with Your Kids After "My Neighbor Totoro"

Families can talk about everything from finding friendship and compassion in unlikely places to what makes something scary. By Frannie Ucciferri

My Neighbor Totoro is a playful, whimsical, and imaginative anime classic that's beloved by viewers of all ages. It's one of the movies that first introduced popular filmmaker Hayao Miyuzaki to an American audience, paving the way for the success of other great films such as Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away. This story about two sisters -- Mei and Satsuki -- and the whimsical creatures they meet in the forest is perfect even for young kids. It's sweet and gentle, and any scary moments are used to show that things don't have to be frightening -- even haunted houses. And the movie's messages about compassion, friendship, and family bonds will give parents and children a lot to talk about after watching the film.

Throughout the United States in 2017, Studio Ghibli is releasing several of its most popular kids' movies on the big screen. Type in your city or zip code here to find out whether My Neighbor Totoro is showing at a theater near you. Then, after the movie, try these discussion questions to get started:

  • Why aren't Mei and Satsuki afraid of Totoro? Why do you think they're able to befriend him so easily? How does he help them and their family?

  • How do the characters demonstrate couragecuriosity, and compassion? Why are these important character strengths?

  • How do the girls deal with their mother's sickness? Does her hospitalization affect the sisters differently?

  • What is the movie's animation style like? How are the humans depicted? Are the Totoros and the Catbus scary-looking? What makes it obvious they're gentle?

  • Why do you think this movie is considered an anime classic? How is it different from the majority of Hollywood animated movies?

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About Frannie Ucciferri

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As associate managing editor, Frannie Ucciferri makes sure each of Common Sense Media's more than 30,000 reviews and 700 curated lists is as complete and comprehensive as possible. Frannie is a graduate of UC Berkeley,... Read more

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