Studio Ghibli – My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Arrietty Blu-rays and My Neighbor Totoro Book
Studio Ghibli is an entity that is hard to describe properly to Westerners. The shorthand I see used most often is that they are the Disney of Japan. While that is an excellent quick way to get your point across there is so much more to it. Studio Ghibli have created around 20 feature films over the last 30 years, most directed by studio heads Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. These films are some of the most beloved in Japan.
Even though I am sure I miss some of their cultural significance and commentary on nationality and the Japanese identity, traditions, folklore and more I can still say with confidence that these films tread in deeper waters than anything Disney ever created. Ghibli films deliver more for adults, display more true humor rather than just comedic situations, show quality character development, reflect more upon life itself, all while being very strange and dreamlike yet also vastly entertaining.
My Neighbor Totoro is in many ways the studio’s flagship film. Its main character, the large spirit creature Totoro, is their mascot. In the movie two sisters meet some magical creatures in the woods. Their strange yet joyful interactions with these beings helps the girls deal with moving to a new house, cope with their mother’s illness, face growing up and get along with each other. Ponyo is Ghibli’s version of The Little Mermaid story and its quite different from the more familiar tale of Ariel. Arrietty is their take on The Borrowers stories. All of these blu-rays have many wonderful extras and the films can be viewed in Japanese with subtitles or as an English dub, usually starring the voice talents of many famous Hollywood actors.
I have included the novelization of My Neighbor Totoro in this post. It nicely captures the depth and whimsy of the film. It features illustrations from film director Miyazaki himself and the story is adapted by beloved Japanese children’s book author Tsugiko Kubo. Its a great companion to the movie.