This is the third Miyazaki film I’ve seen and I just fall more and more under his whimsical, wonderful worldview with each one. This movie shares a lot with the other movies I’ve seen. There’s almost nothing in the way of serious plot; instead the movie chooses to meander through everyday life with the magic underneath it all revealed. A father and his two daughters move into the countryside in order to be closer to the mother of the family who is recovering from a basically unspecified ailment at a local hospital. Once there, the youngest child discovers that the nearby woods contain a host of magical, wondrous creatures, that, in essence, the entire world that surrounds her is filled with magic and mystery. Miyazaki captures something really wonderful with his films. There’s just a whimsy and a childlike wonder to his movies that I really just haven’t managed to find anywhere else. The animation is, of course, wonderful and often extremely funny. The performances, particularly of the two young girls, are great. Noriko Hidaka is the older girl. Chika Sakamoto is the younger and between Sakamoto’s performance and the animation and the script I’m seriously wondering if this is maybe the best representation of real childhood on film. This movie has little in the way of plot momentum, but the energy is high and the good-natured vibe just pervades everything about it. The creatures are imaginative, beautiful and so much fun. Totoro is a blast but Catbus is some kind of astounding marvel. Next on the agenda, Dogbus? Because the world would be basically perfect if there were Catbuses & Dogbuses. This movie just really sent me out on a total high. Nothing like a Miyazaki masterpiece to feel your heart with joy and happiness and the wonderful, all too rare feeling that magic exists and maybe the doorway to that magical world of fun, adventure and love is hiding just around the next corner. 4 stars.
tl;dr – animated film from Miyazaki is filled with wonder & magic and will leave you feeling exuberant and joyful; brilliant in every way and I want a Catbus. 4 stars.