Thank you, Hayao Miyazaki

by Amy Kraft on May 29, 2008

…for giving us My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service, the cornerstones of our daughter’s video collection. (Oh, and thanks to Kurt and Carrie for introducing us to Totoro, and Michael for telling us about Kiki). 

These two movies are magical, and in a completely different league than most of the kid’s movies I’ve seen. I think I like these movies so much because they both feature such strong little girls.

My Neighbor Totoro centers on two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to rural Japan with their father while their mother is in the hospital. They encounter little magical soot sprites in their home, and Mei follows two little forest sprites under the neighboring camphor tree where she meets another forest sprite, Totoro. In this iconic scene, Satsuki and Mei wait at the bus stop for their father to come home, and Totoro arrives to wait for his preferred mode of transportation, the Catbus.

One might think that the girls would be terrified of these creatures (and perhaps our little home viewer as well), but film is set up so that the magical creatures befriend and help the girls, bringing magic into their world that already is full of the fear of moving into a new home in an unfamiliar place and having a parent who is ill. 

Kiki’s Delivery Service is wonderful as well. Kiki is a young witch who, like all young witches-in-training when they turn 13, must leave home to find a new town to establish herself and complete her training. Kiki and her black cat Jiji get a little off course in a storm, and arrive in a town unfamiliar with witches. She has trouble fitting in until she befriends a baker and starts her own delivery service. As events unfold, Kiki begins to truly doubt her powers and must find strength when she is truly needed.

Olive has watched these so many times that one day, as a lark, my husband put one on in Japanese. Now she’ll occasionally watch them in Japanese, able to follow along because she has them memorized. I fantasize that by doing this she’s somehow becoming fluent in Japanese.

Amazon: My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service

Jessica June 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Totally agree. Those movies are fantastic! Jessica

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