Today is a very good day for fans of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. At long last, the magnificent masterpiece My Neighbor Totoro, and the marvelous Howl’s Moving Castle, are available on Blu-ray! And as part of the celebration, GeekMom has a fantastic giveaway pack for 2 lucky readers!
But first, let’s discuss Totoro. Released in 1988, this edition marks the 25th anniversary of the film. Let’s all pause for a second while I cry violently over my keyboard, hitch sobbing, “Where did the time go?”
If you’ve been a fan of the film from the start, then you probably remember the first English dub – where, sadly, the main character Satsuki was unfortunately and cringingly pronounced “sat-SOO-ki.” (Proper pronunciation is “SOT-ski.”) The film was re-dubbed in 2005 by Disney, with real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning playing the lead characters Satsuki and Mei. Around these parts, we prefer this re-recording. I was so glad when the film was re-dubbed, but that’s just me. I know many families with children who grew up watching that original run-and-gun dub session, and are absolutely devoted to it.
For me, well… I used to be the writer for a show called Ninja Warrior, otherwise known as Sasuke. So I’m a little touchy about Japanese pronunciation. It makes me crazy when people say “sah-SOO-kay” instead of “SAH-skay.” This anniversary edition of Totoro contains the 2005 re-dub.
Whenever other parents ask me what movies I recommend for a child’s first feature film experience- Totoro tops my list. Totoro was Vivienne’s first film in a movie theater, and last year I spoke with today.com about the importance of Ghibli in my home life. I’m always surprised to discover that despite knowing the Academy Award winner Spirited Away, many people still have no experience with the many other Studio Ghibli films, much less the wonderful, magical Totoro. It’s always a pleasure to introduce someone to the catalog.
Totoro isn’t just a great movie – it can provide you with such an enchanted jumping off point for play-acting with a toddler. You’ll totally see the world in a different manner. Any acorn could have been dropped by a Totoro, any huge looming tree could contain a door to where the spirits of the forest live, and any strong wind might be a catbus flying over your head. A friend of mine recently sent us some lavender seeds in a tiny planting kit that happened to grow quite fast! One foggy morning we checked the pot to find tiny sprouts peeking up out of the dirt, and my daughter exclaimed, “Totoro was here!!! Totoro was here!!”
I have a personal connection to this film – I have a small, cough-and-you’ll-miss-me role in the film. I was lovingly referred to as “Girl C” in the script, and play the girl in blue working at the hat shop in the beginning of the film. You can hear me clearly as the movie starts – I’m the low, raspy voice talking about Howl ripping out a young girl’s heart. As a Miyazaki fan, I about died when I was cast in this film and became part of the Ghibli family. And in case that wasn’t enough, the day I recorded at Disney, the incomparable Jean Simmons came in for her session right afterwards. I was introduced to her, we had a lovely chat, and then I was allowed to stay and watch her perform.
I would officially recommend this film for children who are five or six, but frankly, Vivi has been watching it since she was a little over two, and I have a friend who’s son has been obsessed with this movie since he was very little. You know your child best of all, so as with any film, I would watch it first to see if they would dig it or be freaked out by chickenfooted castles that walk, or obese witches of the waste, and gauge it from there. I love strong Sophie who isn’t afraid to tell people what she thinks, and how she presents a brave face to every challenge thrown her way.
To see these films in HD is a Ghibli fan’s dream. And I’m so excited that GeekMom gets to giveaway not one but TWO packets containing:
• 1 Blu-ray Combo Pack of My Neighbor Totoro
• 1 Blu-ray Combo Pack of Howl’s Moving Castle
• 1 My Neighbor Totoro 7″ Plush
• 1 Paperback Copy of Studio Ghibli: The Films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata
• 1 Hardcover Copy of The Art of My Neighbor Totoro: A Film by Hayao Miyazaki
• 1 $20 VISA Gift Card for Movie Snacks
To be eligible for the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment below. Tell us who your favorite Ghibli character is! Or tell us if you’re new to the films. Remember to submit and double-check your email address, since that’s how we’ll let you know if you’ve won! The winner will be randomly chosen from all of the entries. The contest is open to U.S. residents from now through Friday, May 24th, and the winner must respond within 48 hours of prize notification or will have to forfeit! Good luck!