I saw my first Miyazaki film on Cartoon Network in a hotel room. It was the spring of 2007, though I can’t recall which city my family and I were in or why we were on the road at all. But I do remember watching Derrick Rose in the basketball state championship game on TV — so we must have been close to home — while waiting for the shower. Flipping through channels after the game, I stumbled onto Spirited Away.
Since then, I’ve seen just about every Miyazaki film. I ordered Princess Mononoke on DVD later that year, and a couple summers ago I went through every film of his the library had.
I own a fair number of them now, and every birthday a few more get added to the collection. My Neighbor Totoro was a gift in the fall, one I’d seen only once, during that summer binge.
A few days ago, I finally watched it again. That it took so long says a lot.
There’s plenty to like: it’s lovely to look at, and there’s no shortage of tender moments or imagination.
But it never felt like a movie for me, a childless 20-something, and that’s why I hadn’t revisited it. I felt both too old for it and not old enough. Never would I pull it from the shelf over, say, Mononoke or Nausicaa, films so much larger, so much more narratively complex. That’s not a knock on Totoro; it’s simply a reflection of what most resonates with me at this point in my life.
So it is what it is: A very fine film, just not one made for me.