I’ve been wrong about a lot of things. The first time I used the internet I typed “X-Men” into a search engine and, finding the results unsatisfactory, said, “This will never catch on.”
Okay, so maybe saying I was “wrong” about the internet is an understatement on par with calling the Titanic “unsinkable”, but one thing I was merely wrong about was the work of Hayao Miyazaki. I lost interest in animation when sleeping in became my preferred Saturday morning pastime, and for years my only exposure to anime—animation from Japan—was weird, giggly, nonsense that my friend Ben liked.
That all changed when my family and I watched Ponyo, Miyazaki’s riff on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”. We became converts, and soon his work became a fixture in our home.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of Miyazaki’s most beloved films, My Neighbor Totoro. The film follows two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to the country with their father while their mother recuperates in the city. As the girls explore the grounds of their new home they encounter a number of spirits, including a giant furry creature named Totoro and a bus shaped like a cat. It’s a mysterious movie, weird in a way that seems totally normal, and filled with so much joy that you’ll want to watch it again and again.