10 Facts About Totoro

Some of these you will know….some of them maybe you won’t. Did you know My Neighbor Totoro is partly biographical? Did you know that the film was parodied in South Park?

  1. Totoro is as famous among Japanese children as Winnie-the-Pooh is among British ones.
  2. On its original theatrical release in Japan, My Neighbor Totoro was double-featured with Grave of the Fireflies as the film was believed to be too big a financial risk as a standalone release.
  3. My Neighbor Totoro was the product of writer-director Hayao Miyazaki who also produced Princess Mononoke, highest-grossing film in Japan—until it was eclipsed by another 1997 film, Titanic — and the first animated film to win Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards.
  4. The film is partially autobiographical. When Hayao Miyazaki and his brothers were children, his mother suffered from spinal tuberculosis for nine years, and spent much of her time hospitalized. It is implied, yet never revealed in the film, that Satsuki and Mei’s mother also suffers from tuberculosis. He once said the film would have been too painful for him to make if the two protagonists were boys instead of girls.
  5. The Financial Times recognised Totoro as “more genuinely loved than Mickey Mouse could hope to be in his wildest—not nearly so beautifully illustrated—fantasies.”
  6. My Neighbor Totoro is parodied in the South Park episode “Mysterion Rises” in a couple of scenes where Cartman plays on the belly of the dark lord Cthulhu and later flies on the inderdimensional monster to the tune of the iconic end credits song from the film’s soundtrack.
  7. Mei means sprout in Japanese. Mei-mei means little sister in Chinese.
  8. A Totoro plush makes an appearance in Pixar’s Toy Story 3.
  9. There is a geographical error in My Neighbor Totoro. When Satsuki and Mei are waiting for the bus in the rain, the bus stop sign reads ‘Maezawa-gyo’ in some scenes while in other scenes the sign reads ‘Shichikokuyama-gyo’.
  10. There is a theory held by a few online that Totoro is in fact the messenger of death (hmmm…we don’t buy it).