Tonari no Totoro (1988, JAP) C-86m. *** D: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring (the voices of) Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto, Shigesato Itoi, Sumi Shimamoto, Tanie Kitabayashi, Hitoshi Katagi. Miyazaki's follow-up to the classic LAPUTA is a marvelous children's story about two kids, who move to the country with their father to be close to the family's mother, who is in hospital. The children are enchanted by the idyllic nature surrounding them and make the acquaintance of a wondrous tree spirit, Totoro. Beautiful tale with many blissful moments, well-scored by Joe Hisaishi. Bogs down towards the end, but still a remarkable animated feature. Children will be spellbound from start to finish. Miyazaki followed this with the even more enchanting MAJO NO TAKKYUBIN (KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE). The kitten bus made a return in a 13m. short Miyazai filmed in 2002. English title: MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO.

© Ron Altman