Wednesday, November 24, 2010
In the movie Totoro, two little girls move into a house that is known to be haunted. In America, this is the beginning of a horror movie. For Miyazaki, this is the beginning of a lovely adventure. The little girls know the house they live in is haunted and they aren't afraid. In fact, they go hunting the soot gremlins that live in the attic and when their father finds out the house is haunted he yells, in a most joyous voice, "I have wanted to live in a haunted house since I was a boy." Clearly, the negative associations we have with hauntings are not present.
Of course, in Japanese folklore, there are many, many spirits. Every object has a spirit and these spirits are usually good or at least neutral. The spirit world is ever present and in Totoro the little girls' journey into the spirit world is more than fun. I love this haunted house movie because it is the absolute opposite of everything Americans expect of a haunted house movie. It is delightful and fun and worth watching on a sunny morning with your children.