Two little girls, Satsuki and Mei, move to the country with their Dad, a college professor of some sort. He wants to live in a quiet place to work on his book, I guess. They can also be closer to Mom, who has some kind of romantic consumptive disease that's confined her to a sanatorium. The family's new house is a rickety Western-style study and attic added to a really old traditional farmhouse.
On the first day, as they're putting up their furniture and cleaning, Satsuki and Mei encounter the Makkurokurosuke, little black sooty spirits that live in old dusty homes. Mei catches one! The girls become friends with the old lady from a nearby farm, who tells them about the shy spirits of the countryside. Sure enough, the Makkurokurosuke depart en masse that first evening, reluctant to share the house with humans.
Soon, Satsuki starts school, and Mei spends her days exploring the yard and the woods next to the house. She's trying not to bother her Dad, who is working at home on his research. It's not long before she sees her first totoro, who is running around collecting acorns. There's a little tiny white one (Chibi Totoro), a slightly bigger one (Chu Totoro), and Mei finally meets a giant Totoro who lives in a big hollow tree! Later, Satsuki also meets Totoro, and their adventures begin! Will Dad ever meet Totoro? Do other strange creatures live in rural Japan? Will Mom ever get better and come home from the hospital?
...Itís Miyazaki. It looks good, it sounds good, it is good. Nuff said.
Herself the Elf sez: I consider this one of, if not the, best children's movies of all time. It really captures the sense of wonder and magic about childhood while avoiding the problem that plagues most North American kids' movies: it doesn't talk down to you, so adults can enjoy it just as much as the little ones. A true classic, and something everyone should see no matter what their age.
Available at your local video store from Fox Entertainment. The dubbing job is quite good.