The whiskered, round-bodied figure of Totoro is as familiar to children in Japan as the face of Mickey Mouse is to kids here. And for good reason: My Neighbor Totoro is one of acclaimed anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s best works of art. This weekend, you and your kids can become Totoro-heads, too. Beginning on Sunday, June 25, New York–based film distributor GKIDS will present screenings of iconic anime across the city during its annual Studio Ghilbi Fest, a celebration of the Japanese animation studio founded by Miyazaki himself. Though the half-dozen movies that will be screened over the next few months are all worth the watch, the festival is kicking off with our favorite, Totoro.
In the tradition of children’s fables and Disney plots that pivot around the death or illness of a parent, My Neighbor Totoro follows two sisters, Satsuke and Mei, who are adjusting to a new home while dealing with their ailing mother. Any Disney comparisons end there, though. As the girls explore their surroundings and venture off into their backyard (which happens to be a magical forest), they encounter playful spirits like the colossal yet cuddly Totoro, whom they immediately befriend. There are no villains to slay and no frogs to kiss. Instead, Totoro is propelled by pure imagination, longing, and love.
If you’re worried about the language barrier, screenings on Sunday, June 25, will be dubbed in English (screenings on the following day will be in Japanese with English subtitles). Held at numerous theaters in Brooklyn, Long Island City, and Manhattan, the Studio Ghibli Fest team has made seeing this classic movie accessible in every way.
Why You Should Go: To show your kids what animated film can really look like—without the distraction of bad guys, fart jokes, and chase scenes.
GKIDS Presents Studio Ghilbi Fest 2017: My Neighbor Totoro
Various theaters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens
Sunday, June 25 and Monday, June 26