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[-[[caption-width-right:350:''Look at all my many friends. Ready, set, let's go!'']]-]

->"''No plot. No central character. No antagonist. No defined purpose for side characters. No threat. No three acts. No jokes. No punchlines. No explanations. No internal references. No catch phrases. No political polemical voice. No melodrama. No lessons. No beginning. No end. One of the best movies ever made.''"
-->--'''[[https://letterboxd.com/daveyjenkins/film/my-neighbor-totoro/ Letteboxed review]] by David Jenkins'''

''My Neighbor Totoro'' (Japanese: ''Tonari no Totoro'', 1988) is Creator/StudioGhibli's second feature film and the fourth animated feature directed by Creator/HayaoMiyazaki (the first being ''Anime/TheCastleOfCagliostro'').

A little cycle truck putters down a rural road in post-war Japan, carrying four-year-old Mei, her older sister Satsuki, and their father Professor Kusakabe to a new home in the country to be closer to the rural hospital where the girls' mother is recovering from an unspecified (but potentially deadly) disease. Along with the usual tribulations of moving--a spooky old house, new neighbors, fitting in at a new school--Mei encounters an odd little creature in the backyard. While pursuing it, she comes upon the den of a much larger forest spirit that she eventually calls "Totoro". At first, Mei is the only one who sees Totoro, but Satsuki soon meets him as well, and the girls have several fantastic encounters with Totoro, interwoven between subplots involving their family and (human) neighbors.

But the girls' seemingly idyllic rural existence is soon shattered when a health crisis forces their mother to cancel a much-anticipated visit home. Heartbroken, the two girls take out their fear and anger on each other, and Mei eventually sets out for the hospital alone, determined to deliver an ear of corn she believes will make her mother well. The remainder of the film revolves around Satsuki's increasingly desperate search for Mei; when all other options are exhausted, Satsuki appeals directly to Totoro for help--and he is more than delighted to be of assistance.

''Totoro'' is one of Miyazaki's best known films. Totoro himself became the mascot for Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki does not gloss over some of the more frightening aspects of childhood, though: the girls are terrified of their mother dying, a common goat seems monstrous from little Mei's perspective, and the whole village's fright and anxiety when Mei goes missing is almost palpable. Even Totoro--with his huge grin, inscrutable expression, and manic eyes--can be a little scary; Satsuki refers to meeting him as both the funniest and the scariest day of her life.

!! ''My Neighbor Totoro'' contains the following tropes:

* ABoyAndHisX: Two girls and their magical forest spirit.
* AdultFear:
** Mei running away from home and getting lost in the climax is something any adult or older sibling can understand. This goes UpToEleven when the villagers find a little girl's sandal in the pond and fear that Mei has drowned.
** The film triggers this with the audience when Mei falls asleep on Totoro's stomach mere inches from his enormous maw. That'd be enough to make any parent cringe.
* AdultsAreUseless: This is mostly averted, though it's through Satsuki's actions alone that Mei is found during the film's climax.
* AllTrollsAreDifferent: Mei mistakes Totoro for a troll; "Totoro" is even a mispronunciation of the Japanese word for troll, "Torōru".
* {{Arcadia}}: The film is an ode to the rural lifestyle.
* BigSisterInstinct: Satsuki's kicks in big time when Mei goes missing. She runs herself ragged trying to find her, and finally seeks out Totoro's help when she is starting to lose hope.
* BlushSticker: Mei has these.
* BreakTheCutie: Mei
* BugBuzz: This happens during the night when Mei and Satsuke help "awaken" the acorns.
%%* ByTheEyesOfTheBlind: See InvisibleToAdults
* ChasingAButterfly: Mei tends to do this. First she chases the soot gremlins all over the house; then she gets lost when she follows Chibi-Totoro into the woods. Although she encounters a monstrous creature (the titular Totoro), fortunately he is a GentleGiant, so the danger part is averted.
* CheshireCatGrin: Totoro and the Catbus show these off, though theirs have no malice behind them.
* ChildrenAreInnocent: This is implied, via Granny's dialogue about seeing the soot sprites when she was the kids' age, to be why Satsuki and Mei are able to see the supernatural things around them.
* CloseKnitCommunity: The village; everyone seems to know each other, and everyone pitches in to search for Mei.
* ComeOutComeOutWhereverYouAre: Mei and Satsuki do this when trying to make the soot sprites (or "soot gremlins" or even "dust bunnies," depending on which version one watches) in the attic appear. It's toned down from the Japanese language track, where they also say, [[{{Squick}} "Or we'll pluck your eyeballs out!"]]
* ConstructionIsAwesome: Totoro and the kids magically grow a few seeds into a massive WorldTree. In the morning, the tree is gone, but the seeds have germinated abnormally fast.
* ContagiousLaughter: Once the father starts to laugh in the bath, the girls are able to join in. Interestingly for this trope, they start out by faking their laughter (to drive away the ''susuwatari''), before they all finally start laughing for real.
* ConvenientCranny: When chased by Mei, Chibi-Totoro hides underneath the house where the girl cannot reach it.
* CoolBigSis: Satsuki is this for Mei.
* CoversAlwaysLie: [[http://www.animationmagazine.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/poster_totoro.jpg The cover]] for the 2010 American DVD is taken from concept art for an early draft, according to which the two siblings were still one CompositeCharacter. So instead of Satsuki and Mei waiting in the rain, it has a girl who has Mei's head on Satsuki's body. Whoops.
* CuteButCacophonic: Note to those watching the movie on their computers or portable DVD players: Please take your headphones off whenever it looks like Totoro is going to roar. Your ears will thank you.
* CuteKitten: The short-film sequel ''Mei and the Kittenbus'', which plays exclusively at the Ghibli Museum, has one of these.
* DeadHatShot: Subverted. Someone finds what they think is one of Mei's shoes floating in a retention pond after the younger sister runs away from home. Everyone sighs a breath of relief when Satsuki sees it and doesn't recognize it.
* DecompositeCharacter: Mei and Satsuki started out in early drafts as a single girl with both their physical characteristics.[[note]]Apparently, this early concept leaked into the promo material (see CoversAlwaysLie).[[/note]]
* {{Determinator}}: Satsuki literally runs for several kilometers in her search for Mei.
* DoubleFeature: The film was originally screened as a double feature with the rather less uplifting ''Anime/GraveOfTheFireflies''. The studio mandated that ''My Neighbor Totoro'' must be shown second as they found that too many people would simply walk out and not watch ''Grave of the Fireflies'' if ''Totoro'' was shown first.
* ElectricSlide: The Catbus is seen doing this.
* EverythingsBetterWithSparkles: The sparkling acorns.
* FollowTheWhiteRabbit: Mei follows Chibi-Totoro to the woods and into Totoro's lair. Chibi-Totoro even looks somewhat like a white rabbit.
* GentleGiant: Totoro, of course.
* GhibliHills: The Ur-example.
* GirlsHaveCooties: Kanta starts out with this attitude, but eventually gets over it.
* GoodParents: Professor Kusakabe is probably one of the nicest fathers in all of anime--and he's ''effective'' as a parent, to boot. He never talks down to his daughters even when they're talking about having seen Totoro; not even the audience can really tell whether he honestly believes them or is simply humoring them. If anything he seems to value their imaginations. Also, judging from the way Mei and Satsuki adore her, it's pretty clear their mother qualifies, too.
* HandInTheHole: Short creepy moment, when Mei reaches into the crack in the wall behind which the dustbunnies disappeared.
* HappyEnding: Mei is found safe and sound, and the credits reveal that the mother comes home from the hospital.
* HauntedHouse: Kanta believes this of the house the family moves into, not without reason.
* IncurableCoughOfDeath: Averted. Though the disease that Mei and Satsuki's mother suffers from is treated as this trope, she's never seen coughing and doesn't actually die. Considering it was based on Miyazaki's own life, and his mother had tuberculosis, coughing would certainly have been justified.
* InvisibleToAdults: Only children seem to be able to see the soot sprites and Totoros, though it's possible that this is simply because they don't want to be seen by adults. [[spoiler:At film's end, it's hinted the girls are [[GrowingUpSucks getting too old]] to see them.]] In an unusual twist to this trope, the adults show no overt signs of disbelieving the children when they talk about the spirits. The girls' father tells them of the soot spirits, and the village grandmother confirms she saw them when she was younger. [[spoiler:This sets up the epilogue.]]
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: This is a major theme of the movie. An example: The huge tree that grows when the girls and Totoro are together is gone the next morning, but the much smaller plants that grew around it remain.
* MegaNeko: The Catbus is what you might expect if you merged a bus with a twelve-legged cat spirit. Its eyes glow like headlights, its hollow body has furry benches and "windows", and it even has a sign that changes to match its destination, which includes Mei.
* MickeyMousing: At various times the soundtrack playfully punctuates the characters' movements, most notably in the scene where Mei chases Chibi-Totoro and Chu-Totoro through her backyard.
* MouthCam: At one point we see Mei from within Totoro's mouth.
* NarrativeShapeshifting: The opening credits.
* NatureSpirit: Totoro and his friends. Although only mentioned once as being "The Keeper of the Forest", [[GreenThumb he certainly shows it]].
* NoAntagonist: As the DVD release points out, the movie was designed to be devoid of conflict. YMMV if fear that one's mother is dying counts.
* OldSchoolChivalry: Kanta, lending his umbrella to Mei and Satsuki when it's pouring outside.
* PantyShot: Throughout the movie, in a completely innocent way. "Bloomer Shots" if you will.
* PinkMeansFeminine: Mei [[spoiler:except at night.]]
* PokemonSpeak: Totoro is only ever heard growling, roaring, and saying his own name.
* RandomEventsPlot: With the exception of Totoro himself and the girls' worrying that their mother might be dying, nothing really happens in this moive. It's just two girls hanging out in their new home.
* RidiculouslyCuteCritter: Totoro. C'mon, just look at the picture, and try to tell me ''you'' don't wanna give the big fuzzy critter a hug, too.
* RousseauWasRight / NoAntagonist
* SceneryCensor: During the bath scene, Mei is conveniently protecting the audience from her father.
* SceneryPorn: In the DVDBonusContent, Miyazaki says that he wanted to show that Japan is a beautiful country.
* SecondaryCharacterTitle: The titular character refers to the creature the main characters, Satsuki and Mei, meet after moving to their new home.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: An extremely idealistic film. It uplifted everyones spirits up after this was in a double feature with Anime/GraveOfTheFireflies.
* SoapOperaDisease: We are not told what the mother is sick of.
* StrayingBaby: Mei's running off with no sense of the dangers involved triggers the climax.
* TerribleArtist: Averted with Satsuki's cute drawing of Mei as the crab who waited over a persimmon seed to grow.
* ThemeNaming
** "Satsuki" is the old Japanese term for the month of May, and "Mei" sounds like the English name for the month. Originally Mei was only going to be the only girl until Miyazaki realized that a four-year old wouldn't have the independence necessary to drive the story.
** The three Totoros themselves, named for their sizes. The littlest one is called "Chibi Totoro" ("chibi" meaning "little"), the blue middle-sized one is "Chū Totoro" ("chū" meaning "middle"), and the biggest one is "Ō Totoro" ("ō" meaning "large").The big guy's name is sometimes rendered as "Ou Totoro", resulting in the alternate English translation "King Totoro".
* ThousandYardStare: Totoro's wide starey eyes are one of its hallmarks.
* TrampolineTummy: Mei uses Totoro as a cushion when she finds him sleeping belly up, waking him up in the process, before falling asleep together. Satsuki also bounces briefly when she lands on Totoro.
* {{Tsundere}}: Satsuki and Kanta are this to each other.
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: The credits show scenes from the girls' lives during the year following the story.
* {{Youkai}}: The Totoros are nature spirits centered around the great tree near the Kusakabes' home, which bears Shinto ropes. The film also features ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susuwatari Susuwatari]]'' (wandering soot), a fictitious Youkai created by Miyazaki. (The Susuwatari would later appear in ''Anime/SpiritedAway''.)
* ZigZagPaperTassel: The Shinto ropes on Totoro's tree count.