An anime classic. Set in a countryside backdrop, a university professor and his two small daughters try to carry on with life as their mother recuperates in the hospital from an undisclosed (to us), longterm illness. The community around their new home kindly supports them, which includes the help of several magical forest beings like Totoro. The story has a strong environmentalism theme, and in my opinion, a shamanistic/magical undertone as well.
Watch the original here: http://eyeonanime.com/my-neighbor-totor ... episode-1/
Venerating an old camphor tree. The thingy around the tree trunk is a shimenawa, which demarcates a
location or object considered to be deeply spiritual, divine, "holy." Here's another one on an altar pic
from another post.
Totoro teaches the girls to use their intention to effect change in their world. First, he teaches them
how to "raise energy" through song and dance. Next, he teaches them how to focus their intention.
As a result, the plants begin to grow...hmm witches, does any of this activity sound vaguely familiar?
Here's a review written by Josh Overdiek:
Hayao Miyazaki is well-known for incorporating themes of environmentalism and themes of humanity's relationship with nature into his films. His 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) is no exception. Miyazaki is a man who is unafraid of utilizing powerful images and themes. His viewers are often drawn deeply into his stories by the subtle yet rich emotional palette, the complex characterizations of the frequently female protagonists, and the willingness to deal with powerful themes...One of the themes Miyazaki uses most often is the theme of environmentalism and ecology.
...Although Miyazaki is not formally trained in Shintō, he has been quoted as saying that he “like[s] the idea that we…should treasure everything because there is a kind of life to everything,” which reveals his familiarity with and fondness of Shintō’s animistic ideas (Stibbe). Miyazaki once stated that while he wanted Totoro to be first and foremost a “fun and exciting” film, he also “wanted it to be a film where viewers relate Japan’s future environmental and ecological problems to the condition of the society which surrounds them” (Stibbe).
Miyazaki conveys a generally positive view of the environment in several quite subtle ways. Mr. Kusakabe...teaches oceanography at a university...Near the end of the film, Mei misunderstands Granny’s pride in her vegetables – Mei utterly believes that Granny’s produce will cure her mother’s illness. Although the audience understands that Granny was just teasing, the audience also finds itself rooting for Mei to deliver the miracle vegetable to her mother, and surely more than one eyebrow was raised by the girls’ mother’s rapid recovery following the delivery of the corn.
Also, the very medium within which Miyazaki works allows for a virtual explosion of environmental pride. Hand-drawn animation necessitates a relatively basic artistic approach to the elements that move, but the static elements, like the backgrounds, allow for intricate and delicate work (Stibbe)...On the one hand, the contrast between the simple, moving elements and the complex, static elements separates the characters from their surroundings, but on the other hand, it “highlight[s] the realness and beauty of the natural world, without letting nature become overshadowed by the human characters or the appealing, fantastic creatures” (Stibbe).
Napier, Susan. “The World of Anime Fandom in America.” Mechademia 1: Emerging Worlds of Anime and Manga. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP. 2006.
Stibbe, Arran. “Zen and the Art of Environmental Educationin the Japanese Animated Film Tonari no Totoro.” Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature & Culture. Dec. 2007.
Source: article adapted from film110sp12.pbworks.com/w/page/52237271/Environmentalism%20and%20Ecology%20in%20Totoro