This is the lesser-known of the two movie posters for My Neighbor Totoro. The iconic poster depicting Totoro at the bus stop gets all the attention. That's the one collectors want to get their hands on. But the true Ghibl Freak will be willing to dig a little deeper, and come up with a hidden gem like this wonderful poster.
Personally, I think both posters are equally great, but I really love the bright, busy energy that's available on this one. The bold green lines, the rotating plumage of artwork from the film, it all looks so wonderful. And there's Totoro at the center, looking a little bewildered. It's important to remember that original anime movies were still uncommon in 1988, especially movies aimed at children. Totoro was a new character, one that needed time for children and adults to discover. So perhaps it's not so surprising that this movie was not a success at the Japanese box office.
It would be a few years, thanks to the growing sales of the plush toys, that My Neighbor Totoro would become the beloved classic. This gestation period was doubly pronounced in the US and the West. Audiences here are accustomed to loud, boisterous cartoons, or stuffy fairy tales with melodramatic overacting, cheesy villains, and preachy moral lessons. The idea of children, or anybody for that matter, sitting still for 90 to watch an animation film where nothing happens....well, that took a many years to sink in.
Here in the States, Totoro becomes a mirror that highlights all the tired, worn out cliches of American animation. The artform has become so stale and bereft of new ideas. It's remarkable to discover a quiet, pastoral, deeply personal movie like My Neighbor Totoro. It's even more remarkable that the American animators who have the words "Miyazaki is God" spray-painted on their walls haven't followed in his footsteps.
Where's our Totoro? Where are the American movies in this vein? I think Pixar is greatly influenced by Ghibli, and Toy Story probably comes the closest to Miyazaki's sense of romantic nostalgia. But they have their own agenda, and operate in their own world. And the other Hollywood studios just churn out noise.
My Neighbor Totoro is Hayao Miyazaki's Pastorale. Will no one else follow his example?