- Movie Reviews
- App Reviews
- Take Action
Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 8 (mild scary scenes, sad themes, tension)
This topic contains:
|Children under 5||Not recommended due to scary scenes and themes.|
|Children aged 5–8||Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and themes.|
|Children over the age of 8||Ok for this age group.|
This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.
|Name of movie:||My Neighbor Totoro|
|Consumer advice lines:||The content is very mild in impact.|
This review of the movie contains the following information:
Written and directed by the acclaimed Miyazaki and animated by Studio Ghibli (The closest equivalent for Western audiences is Disney Studios.), My Neighbor Totoro is one of Japan’s most loved and well-known animated children’s films. Set in 1958, The story follows two young sisters, Satuski (voice of Dakota Fanning) and Mei (voice of Ellie Fanning), as they travel with their father (voice of Tim Daly), an archaeology professor, to stay in an old house in rural Japan. Their mother (voice of Lea Salonga) is recovering from a long-term illness and is staying in a hospital nearby. They arrive at the rather dilapidated but charming old house and discover (to their delight!) that it may just be a little haunted. Although they are a little nervous to start with, when little ‘soot sprites’ scoot out of the dark corners of the house, the girls get to work dusting and filling the house with laughter and light. One sunny day as Mei is exploring the lush gardens, she sees two little forest sprites bobbing along through the grass towards a towering and ancient camphor tree. With curious excitement she chases them through the undergrowth as they dash away, leading her directly into a deep, mossy and flower-filled hollow within the tree. Within lies sleeping a big cuddly bear-like being that Mei calls Totoro. At first it is just Mei who is able to see these creatures, but one rainy evening when Mei and Satsuki are waiting for their father at the bus stop, Totoro appears beside them and Satsuki offers Totoro her umbrella. It seems the forest sprites are happy to have Satsuki and Mei living beside them, and together they have some whimsical and magical adventures. The story takes a darker turn when the girl’s mother is unable to come home for the weekend as planned. In disappointment and worry about their mother’s worsening condition, Satuski takes out her frustration by shouting at Mae, who responds by running away, trying to make her way to the hospital on foot. As darkness descends and Mei is still nowhere to be found, Satuski in great despair calls on Totoro to help her find her little sister. Totoro calls out to the ‘Catbus’, a magical flying cat with the body of a bus and asks it to help Satuski find Mei.
Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.
Sisterhood; Spirits of Nature; Ghosts and Japanese Animism; Spirituality; Illness; Fantasy; Fear of loss of a parent or a sibling; Running away; Getting lost.
Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.
Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.
Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.
There are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:
Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.
In addition to the above-mentioned scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:
Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.
In addition to the above-mentioned scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:
Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.
Nothing further of concern.
There is some mild nudity in this movie, including:
My Neighbor Totoro is an absolutely delightful family film. It is whimsical and imaginative, perfectly capturing the magic and mystery of childhood. Parents should be aware that this is not simply a light and fluffy film as it touches sensitively on deeper themes of parental illness and the fear of death. Aside from the visually stunning animation, My Neighbor Totoro is a beautiful portrayal of sisterhood, and the lovely, caring relationship between the two siblings is very sweet. The characters of Satuski and Mei are excellent positive role models; fierce and brave, but compassionate and respectful. It is no surprise that this film has won many awards and remains a cult classic both in Japan and across the world.
The main messages from this movie are respect for the mystery and power of Nature, the joy of imagination, and the importance of family.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:
This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:
Tip: Leave out the first A, An or The
Selecting an age will provide a list of movies with content suitable for this age group. Children may also enjoy movies selected via a lower age.
Content is age appropriate for children this age
Some content may not be appropriate for children this age. Parental guidance recommended
Content is not age appropriate for children this age
Children and Media Australia (CMA) is a registered business name of the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM).
CMA provides reviews, research and advocacy to help children thrive in a digital world.
ACCM is national, not-for-profit and reliant on community support. You can help.