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Trivia / My Neighbor Totoro

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  • All-Star Cast: The Disney dub is known for this, with Dakota Fanning and her sister Elle in the lead roles, also starring Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, Pat Carroll, and in the title role of Totoro, Frank Welker!
  • Baby Name Trend Starter: Mei has become a top ten baby name in Japan thanks to it being the name of one of the girls in the movie. In 2014, it was the most popular girl name.
  • Dueling Films: The American theatrical release was this with A Troll in Central Park, another movie with the same premise. Since A Troll In Central Park was released opposite Pulp Fiction and was only shown in very few theaters (not to mention being the biggest box office bomb by percent of budget lost), Totoro was the winner.
  • He Also Did/Playing Against Type: The initial US release was handled by 50th Street Films, a general-interest division of Troma. (Yes, that Troma).
    • Mei and Satsuki's father is voiced by Shigesato Itoi, who is a well-known essayist and copywriter in Japan. Westerners probably know him best as the creator of Mother.
  • List of Films You Should See By the Age of 14: #27
  • Real-Life Relative: Real life siblings Dakota and Elle Fanning voice Satsuki and Mei in the Disney dubs.
    • Cast Incest: Gregory Snegoff and his late wife Lisa Michelson played the father and Satsuki in the Streamline dub.
    • Incestuous Casting: ...and his mother played the mother in the film.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The Streamline Dub licensed by 20th Century Fox has been out of print since 2004, leading some to go so far as to distribute it on file sharing sites, extending its reach to new viewers.
  • Posthumous Credit: Lisa Michelson is given a credit in the Streamline dub since she finished all of her dialogue two years before her fatal car crash on September 14, 1991.
  • Reality Subtext: Miyazaki's father was an academic and his mother was successfully treated for tuberculosis in a rural sanitarium. In an interview published in Starting Point: 1979-1996, Miyazaki mentioned he made the main characters girls so it wouldn't be too close to his own life.
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  • Screwed by the Lawyers: When Disney acquired Totoro, they had to wait for the rights of the Streamline dub to expire before releasing it in 2006.
  • Sleeper Hit: The film wasn’t very successful in its initial release and even took two years to become profitable. It’s technically only ever made $45 million at the box office as of the end of 2019. However once it hit home release and started producing merchandise, it took on a new life. Between the initial release, various home releases, and merchandise, it’s made about $1.5 billion in 2019 dollars in lifetime revenue.
  • Vindicated by Cable: My Neighbor Totoro initially wasn't very successful in theaters in Japan and had the worst opening box office amongst Ghibli's output. The film wouldn't start to become as successful as it is now until it started airing on TV via Nippon Television a year later.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The film was originally developed as one of the first drafts of Princess Mononoke way back in 1981, featuring a little girl and a large cat-like creature in ancient Japan. At some point, these plans were revisited as a starting point for My Neighbor Totoro, while the concept for Mononoke would continue being revised over the years until eventually being released as the infamously Darker and Edgier final product in 1997.
    • In the original post-proto-Mononoke drafts, Mei and Satsuki were one person, who had visual traits of both, but Miyazaki later realized that a four-year-old wouldn't realistically be independent enough for the plot to work. This single character is featured in the original release poster due to a miscommunication.
  • Write What You Know: This film based on Miyazaki and his three brothers’ childhood in post-war Japan. First of all, their father was an academic like Mr. Kusakabe. Second of all, their mother was chronically ill like Mrs. Kusakabe for a lot of their childhood with spinal tuberculosis and spent a lot of time at a rural sanitarium like the one she’s in. They also moved from the city to be closer to her like in the film. Mrs. Miyazaki was eventually able to be cured and got to come home like Mrs. Kusakabe does at the end of the film. He decided to keep it to two siblings rather than four to save time and felt like having them be brothers would have hit too close to home.
  • This film is on Roger Ebert's Great Movies List.


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