All parent member reviews for My Neighbor Totoro

Parents say

(out of 84 reviews)
age 4+
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Adult Written byDeborahMama April 9, 2008

My 2-year-old loves Totoro best of all

My daughter needed a little hand-holding when Totoro (a friendly forest spirit) made loud noises, but this is her absolute favorite movie. Even though she didn't understand the whole movie at first (and may still not understand parts of it), she loves the imagery, the forest spirits, and the characters. I like that there is no villain -- too many kids' films for my taste feature the presence of absolute evil whose existence is never explained, and I'd rather not have my child see the world in terms of good and evil this way. Totoro has conflict, misbehavior, and scary bits, but all the characters have motivations we can understand and discuss.
Parent of a 2 and 4 year old Written bydorland July 31, 2010
The fact that it gives a solid view of a past Japanese culture (that still survives on the same foundations today in many respects) makes it educational for older children. The role-model presented in the older sister should be an inspiration for younger girls looking for how to handle the younger sibling, especially the ones that are a handful. If more people looked and acted towards this way to each other, even in families themselves, so many issues we see today would be much more controllable in a social sense. While the soot sprites and initial encounters with the various Totor's and Catbus might be a bit scary to younger children it's also something that you can use to help children get past the bogyman phase on several levels as well as teach a spiritual aspect to nature that we so often try to push on young ones but don't give them the concrete connection they need to understand it. The tie to Shintoism and nature and ancestor spirits is yet another learning area for people unfamiliar with Japanese culture. This is one of my 1 year old and 4 year olds favorite movies and with the message and ideas it presents it's definitely one I don't mind them watching again and again.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written bysquili July 11, 2009

Sweet, funny, unique

This is a terrific film. There is a bit of scary stuff with the talk of huanted houses and some loud growling and strange scurring creatures, but all that is side-stepped by the girls giggling and delighted reactions and their overall curiousity of the unknown. I found this movie to be delightfully sweet and wonderfully devoid of the usual fare of action-packed chases and predictable dramas. I love the strong girl message and the wonder and magic found in the mysterious creatures the girls befriend. The movie embraces and celebrates the magical world of childhood. I recommned this movie for the whole family.
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 3 year old Written byBob Loblaw August 11, 2009

Great for 3 year olds and parents alike!

What a wonderful film! Not only is it my 3 year old daughter's favorite movie, but it holds up to repeated viewings by Dad as well. It's hard to find movies that are appropriate for toddlers - to find one that adults can watch as well is even harder! I know there are some concerns about the scene where the father is bathing with his girls - all I can say is that there is absolutely nothing sexual about it, and I'm guessing (as I'm not Japanese) that this is simply a cultural difference. In any case, I don't feel it's anything to be concerned about.
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 4 and 5 year old Written bysampsonite July 18, 2013

I wish every child could have a neighbour like Totoro, and a family like this.

I'm delighted this film has been recommended and absolutely agree it’s a 5 star film. But I can't believe it has only gained 1 point each for positive role models and messages! Every character of this film is a walking example of care, compassion, resilience and intelligence. They don’t talk about how good they’re going to be – they just do it. Maybe that’s why it’s less obvious. For example, the Dad doesn’t have some pivotal moment where he realises, “and now I’m going to be a really good Dad”. No, he just IS a really good Dad ALL the time. They are moving house, his wife is seriously ill, he’s sole parent, he still has to work – pretty stressful situation huh? What do we see from him? Quiet, calm, resilience and an unflappable positive attitude. What’s the effect on his girls? They feel secure and safe even during a period of great stress for the family. Ie: benchmark positive role model. Satsuki shows tremendous maturity for her age, attempting to step into her Mum’s shoes while she is ill and being a superb older sister to Mei. Mei is the most tenacious, rambunctious, brave little 4 yo who can stare down any fear, except the fear of losing her mother. The neighbouring Grandma (and neighbours in general) show community values of practical support and compassion for the new family in a way that most of us would dream to see these days. And then there’s Totoro himself. Yes – he is a bit scary on first sight. And that roar! But from the minute Mei roars back at him any child will know he is a friend. The fact that he is this mysterious giant monster with a mighty roar and sharp claws sends a vital message to kids – “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” (St Francis de Sales) [PLOT SPOILERS COMING UP.] No moment sums this up better than how he responds to Satsuki’s desperation to find Mei. He doesn’t talk; he smiles assuredly and lets out the most mighty roar of the film to summon the magic cat bus. The cat bus doesn’t talk either. He just rotates his destination sign until it says “Mei”, yowls out her name, and tears off with Satsuki on board. And as Satsuki sees her sister’s name on the sign she instantly knows (as do we) that everything is going to be OK. As a parent that moment is one of the most moving I’ve ever seen in a film. I’m tearing up just writing about it. Why? I don’t know. But my guess is that it shows how the makers of this film have established such a genuine relationship between the sisters that we truly feel the joy and relief that Satsuki must feel in that moment. I could write forever. It’s a beautiful film and one that reveals more and more each time, and because so much is ambiguous it leaves much for families to talk about. Is the Totoro real? Does it matter? He’s a symbol of the compassion and strength in a time of difficulty. He appears in these children’s lives to give them a helping hand only when they truly need it and only for as long as they do. And at some point, all of us need a hand. While I had always enjoyed this film, the beauty of its messages never struck me until we lent this film to another family who were the process of losing a grandparent to cancer. When we got it back the Mum said; “that was beautiful. I think every family needs a Totoro.”
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 5 year old Written bySlschiller April 19, 2011

Good movie but some emotional intensity

I agree with some of the other reviews that say common sense down plays the emotional intensity of the movie. The little sister gets lost and there are some intense moments were they fear she has drowned. The older sister expresses her fear that her mother may die. Things do resolve in the end but my 7 and 5 year old were a little upset by it. I'm glad I was there to explain to them
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 2 and 5 year old Written byTomDarla October 12, 2009

Wonderful film for all ages

Our kids (5 and 2) absolutely love Totoro and have watched it countless times already. It is so unlike other movies for children, devoid of the typical violence and special effects, yet is wildly imaginative and engaging. It's a very tranquil movie, perfect with popcorn before bed.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 7 and 11 year old Written bySuzuki Mom August 19, 2009

Go for the Vintage version for all ages

there is the "old" version and the newer Disneyized version. The Disney version is very dissapointing when compared to the nuances and little revelations of the vintage version. The older one is the translated Japanese version. The Japanese viewpoint on the reverence of nature is more apparent and more meaningful. Disney is almost insulting in its main streaming changes.
Parent of a 6 and 6 year old Written byRecordsMom August 15, 2009

What a kids' movie should be

A loving father is always a plus. No stupid adults is another. Add a sense of wonder and caring, and you have a movie that should be a cornerstone of a child's film literature. Children may need help understanding some of the emotional content, but that's not a bad thing. Messages: Trust. Wonder. Concern for the sick. Role models: Father who cares for his children. Neighbor who tells stories. A child who undertakes a daring journey to comfort her ill mother. An entire village who looks for the missing girl.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byKatieC 6 November 9, 2015

Good movie, but tricky plot with sick parent

This movie is sweet and has a good message, if your child is old enough. My 3 year old was able to watch, but we had to talk her through a lot of it, and fast forward through a portion. The two main characters' mother is very sick and in the hospital. They move into a house filled with ghosts and spirits. If your kid isn't scared and can laugh like the girls, you're ok. However, trying to explain to my 3 year old 'where is their mommy' for the whole movie, was hard. Also, at one point, they get a message and assume their mother is gravely ill or dead. The one little girl runs away and gets lost. The Totoro character is lovely and fun, this is a magical movie, the respect for nature is great. But for the younger set, the missing, sick mom, and being lost, along with the dust/monster spirits at home, could be scary. Avoid until they're a little older. Watch Kiki's Delivery Service instead.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Parent of a 1, 3, and 5 year old Written byMelissaRoz June 14, 2014

totoro roars and bares huge teeth

After reading great reviews, I decided to watch this with my 5 years old. He was quite scared of Totoro, who never talks but only roars loudly. Totoro also has a huge mouth full of scary teeth. Totoro and the cat bus were the scariest scenes for my child; more so than the soot gremlins. With lots of cuddles and talking through the scary parts, there doesn't seem to be any lasting damage from watching this movie. I would use caution with sensitive kids and definitely watch it with them.
Adult Written bybabysitter89 March 28, 2011

One of my favorites!

I love this movie, and watched it countless times as a kid. But I think this review downplays the emotional intensity of it just a bit. There are parts when the younger sister goes missing, and also when the mother's health is very uncertain, and these moments were quite scary. It has a happy ending and all these conflicts are resolved, but I was glad that I was there to reassure them, in the moment, that everything would be okay.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written bycrazyannie September 5, 2009

A pleasure for everyone.

This movie has been a family favorite since the first time we put it in the DVD player. My husband and I think that either every artist on the movie had a 3 year old, or they imported some to watch for hours and hours --- the depictions of Mei were so *perfect* in capturing the zest for life and curiosity of that age. We enjoyed talking with our kids about Totoro as a spirit, as a guardian angel, and as part of a belief system different from, but just as magical, as our own.
Parent of a 7 and 9 year old Written bydavidmal770 March 15, 2011

Universal appeal without the cheap gags

Miyazaki's movies all cherish imagination and wonder. This one is no different. There seems to be a new trend in children's movies of trying to pull in the grownups by adding adult situations/humor into a child's world. Miyazaki's movies prove that you can have universal appeal simply by solid storytelling. Not cultural Lady Gaga jokes.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byIsobelle June 30, 2016

Beautiful movie for the whole family

Positive message,warm-hearted, wonderful characters, a true work of art.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Educator and Parent Written bycallingchrissy May 6, 2016
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byandreak4 March 20, 2016
Educator and Parent of a 3 and 5 year old Written bykendall909 February 19, 2016

surprised no one has mentioned the disturbing scene!

Loved the movie with the exception of the part where they dredge the water looking for the little sister's body. My preteen niece was horrified, and thankfully my little ones were losing interest at that point. I actually regret buying it after reading so many positive reviews that don't mention this scene.
Adult Written byporkchoppal August 23, 2015

Family-Friendly Anime Classic is a Beautiful Testimony to Friendship

Violence/Gore: 1 Sex/Nudity: 2 Profanity: 0 Hedonism: 0 Mature/Scary: 2
Parent of a 2 and 8 year old Written byDan Ouellette May 25, 2015

Fantastic movie. Disney cannot compare.

Hayao Mizayaki's movies are incomparable. And this is probably the favorite one with my kids. Unlike Disney, his stories are filled with mystery and not every situation is explained or completely logical... which is a great primer for children growing up. Additionally there are a few tense moments which resolve wonderfully, releasing the tension in a beautiful way not a false way as Disney is prone to doing. Almost all of Miyazaki's female characters are strong, independent and courageous without the sexist stereotypes so predominant in Disney/Nickelodeon fare. This is a huge benefit to these movies in my opinion. Pixar comes closest but nothing compares with Miyazaki/Ghibli.

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