I’m a reluctant member of the generation of Western cinephiles who have embraced Studio Ghibli’s exotic storytelling, characters, and fantasies. This reluctance in no way comes from the source material. It comes from not wanting to be misallocated to the kawaii Tumblr crowd who get the fucking Totoro tattooed on themselves because they’re just so unique.
And I’m absolutely full of shit, by the way. I drink whisky because nobody else I know does. I spend a lot of time watching and learning about films because I only know a handful of other people who are that interested. In 2014 I went to Japan, for fuck’s sake – my rationale was literally because nobody else I knew had been there. I love Studio Ghibli because Hayao Miyazaki makes films unlike anything I’ve ever seen, time and time again.
This viewing of My Neighbour Totoro was my first, and it’s 28 years old. But I’m still getting all bitter because people who have seen it more times are acting like they’re responsible for its success.
Here’s why grownups love Studio Ghibli films: they introduce us to worlds, creatures, and stories that we never experienced as children. The films of my childhood had swordfights, dragons, elves and so on. On the other side of the world, children are raised on spirits that protect the natural world, and it’s such a foreign concept, such a rich area to explore with fresh eyes, that it’s like living through a second childhood.
So I’ll cut everybody some slack.