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Rossdude
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This is kind of crazy. I was at dinner with my fiancee and a group of Japanese people. Some how Totoro was brought up and a very scary thing was brought into perspective: that Totoro is actually a God of death and that Mei and Satsuki are dead!!!

So when I got home I checked the web.

Turns out Ghibili offically stated that the Shinigami rumors are fales and that is not the meaning to the movie.

But still one has to think... I felt this person brought up some very interesting points about the movie.

http://my.opera.com/sukekomashi-gaijin/blog/tonari-no-totoro

Be warned that site has a kind of disturbing Totoro fan art.

Anyway, even if it isn't true I feel like my innocent Totoro movie has been corrupted and I will never be able to look at it the same.

SOme of the very interesting points that were brought up during dinner is that by the end of the movie both Satsuki and Mei have no shadows. Also one of the destination names on the cat bus is grave road.

THe last time I watched the movie I tried to pay particular attention to Mei's sandel and the one found in the pond. TO me they looked the same even though Satuski says it isn't Mei's. I could be wrong, I am not 100% sure, but I thought they looked the same. ALso When Mei is lost she is sitting by Buddist statues that apparently were the protectors of dead children or spirits who died as children.

Another very scary connection is about murders that took place in Saitama prefecture back in 1963 where a young girl was kidnapped for randsom and then murdered. Her sister who found the body was put into such a state of shock that she told the officials she saw a giant raccoon and a cat monster. She then later committed suicide.

So Ghibli says that Totoro is not in fact a god of death, but just the idea makes it so I cannot see the movie in the same light. They might just be saying it isn't true just because Totoro is so populare now and they don't want to freak anyone out.

It makes a lot of sense to me... unfortunatly and I just feel like now something is lost, but in its wake something new and very interesting as risen. I still love the movie very much, but from now on I will constantly be looking for that grim shadow.

UPDATE:
One thing I forgot to mention that was disscussed during dinner is that at the end the mother thinks she saw Satsuki and Mei in the tree, and since she is close to death this is understandable.

Also someone mentioned that there is a messsage about a broken family. How the absence of the mother and even though the father is perfect, since the family isn't together the children die.

This was mentioned in relation to the parents in Spirited Away when the parents are glutenous pigs and even in Nausicaa where the mother died off screen but is present in that errie flashback dream Nausicaa has when she is trying to save the baby ohm. One could also maybe relate it to San being raised by wolves... I don't know.

Anyway, check out the link... it is pretty presuasive.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE:

Don't worry, if you are like me and love the fun laid back cute story of Totoro, than there is some good news. The more I look into it, the more it feels like the God of Death thing is not ture. Especially considering there is a SEQUEL!!!! Yes there actually is!

http://www.animetion.co.uk/Reviews/anime/kittenbus(ric).htm

This is kind of strange since Miyazaki himself reportedly said that the gilrs never again encounter Totoro after the end of the film... well Mei does at least! You can only see it at the Ghibli Museum, another reason for me to be excited to study in Japan next fall.

Nevertheless, the could be a whole scheme for Ghibli to be covering up Totoro's dark secret. I mean you could imagin the sells drop on Totoro merchandise if it turned out the gray flully animal was actually a death god.

But I am holding out that it is just a happy-go-lucky slice of life child's imagination story. I don't want to be creeped out about Totoro, I just don't.

HERE WE GO WTIH ANOTHER UPDATE:

If you click on the first link I posted way back up there somewhere, and read some of the responses you will find that the internet community is not as gross as you would have thought. There are a lot of very insightful posts on there and some that even bring light to the Totoro as a Death God idea, making it seem not so bad. Almost as if Totoro is pretecting their spirits as they make their way to heaven. And to make a death god a cute fuzzy Totoro would be a clever and fresh touch.

I am still not completely sold on the idea. But even if Miyazaki himself never meant for such a meaning it just goes to show you that works of art came be inturprited in many ways.

As far as the murder case where the older sister said she saw a giant raccoon and cat monster, I think it is safe to say that that statement was made up to better fit the Totoro is a death god urban legend. Still... makes for a creepy story.

Really you can probably take Totoro in a lot of ways. I don't buy into the God of Death idea, but it is plausable. ANd I do think the argument is legit, and even that interpritation can be beautiful.

Post last edited by Rossdude on 05.26.2011, 06:43 PM.

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O-Jay88
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Though this theory brings up a lot of interesting points I really don't believe it was intended by the creators. The film does touch on the topic of death, considering the mother's illness and how mei almost drowns, but not to the extent that the theory is suggesting, I think. According to Miyazaki he wanted to make "a happy film, set in Japan".

The story is based on Miyazaki's childhood. His family also had to move to the countryside while their mother had tuberculosis. The reason he chose to have girl protagonists was because having boys would have been too hard for him since it would be too similar to his own life. The house they stayed in was exactly like the one in the film. So any relations to that Sayama case is purely coincidental, I think. Also, big raccoons and large cats are common motifs in Japanese folklore.

That article mentions the first poster, with Mei wearing Satsuki's clothes. At the start of production of the film there was only one protagonist, and this was the time that poster was made. But this was later changed to two. So that point is irrelevant.

It is pointed out that Kanta never seems to see the soot sprites, that this somehow suggests that because only Mei and Satsuki see them they are connected to death. Then why could the Grandma see them when she was young? Wouldn't she be dead too as a child? And Kanta never really enters the house, thinking it is haunted (maybe even because he got a glimpse of the sprites at some earlier point?).

If you look closely at those sandals that Mei puts on and the one in the pond, you will see that they are in fact not the same. One has vertical straps, while the other has crossed.

The sign on the cat bus does indeed show the words grave and road, but it also shows other places (I think pond was one of them, but I can't remember any others ATM). So I think it's just showing a list of places it can go to.

I've never myself noticed that their shadows disappear, but I will pay closer attention next time I see the film. Still, it may just be that the animators forgot, or thought it was unnecessary, to put them in. It is almost nighttime, after all.

I remember reading somewhere that the statues that Mei sits by are actually there as protectors, implying that Mei is just fine (not in any harm).

And lastly, everyone is reunited at the closing credits, so they actually do meet their parents again, and continue to live.

I admit that the theory is creepy and that it has some points that back it up. But in the end it is just a theory, and with the studio publicly debunking it I think it's safe to say that it is nothing more than fans wanting to add another layer of depth to an already deep film.


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Post last edited by O-Jay88 on 05.27.2011, 01:46 AM.

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quote:
SOme of the very interesting points that were brought up during dinner is that by the end of the movie both Satsuki and Mei have no shadows.



False

http://ghibli-gifs.tumblr.com/post/28163...y-maggiethunder

quote:

[the sandal] TO me they looked the same even though Satuski says it isn't Mei's.


They are different.

http://www.studioghibliforum.com/viewtop...?p=16569#p16569


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Rossdude
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quote:
Originally posted by leonbloy
quote:
SOme of the very interesting points that were brought up during dinner is that by the end of the movie both Satsuki and Mei have no shadows.



False

http://ghibli-gifs.tumblr.com/post/28163...y-maggiethunder
quote:

[the sandal] TO me they looked the same even though Satuski says it isn't Mei's.


They are different.

http://www.studioghibliforum.com/viewtop...?p=16569#p16569



Woah, right on both accounts leonbloy. Good find.

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Rossdude
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quote:
Originally posted by O-Jay88

That article mentions the first poster, with Mei wearing Satsuki's clothes. At the start of production of the film there was only one protagonist, and this was the time that poster was made. But this was later changed to two. So that point is irrelevant.





Yeah, I remember thinking on my DVD cover why there was a hybrid Mei/Satsuki character and then when I watched the extra material on the DVD they talked about how originally there was only one.

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Dude, cra-a-a-a-zy

Then again, everyone knows that Disney's Lion King was basedon Simba the White Lion, yet Disney denied this as well, even though they even publicly announced this fact prior to production.

Meh, nothing to do with my Shizuku


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Screw your opinions, they are not relevant ^^.

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Heidi80
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I think a big part in this Totoro as death-thing hasn't been brough up at all. My neighbour Totoro was originally broadcasted alongside Isao Takahata's Hotaru no haka (Grave of the fireflies), a movie about two young siblings dying at the end of world war two. My guess is that the image of Mei and Satsuki as dead comes from it's connection to Hotaru no haka. Totoro is meant to be a lighter movie than Takahata's very dark and difficault work, so it wouldn't make sence if Totoro would be a death god. And about Mei wearing Satsuki's clothes,as O-Jay88 said, in pre-production it was meant that the story would feature one 6-year old girl, who was later transformed into two sisters. So the girl in the early posters is that 6-year old girl.

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Tea Master Tall
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One thing is for certain. Mai and Satsuki don't die. They are in the credits alive and well, reunited with their mother. And the sequel thing.


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Tea Master Tall
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I read the Spirited Away one, too. Maybe all great relatively happy movies come from dark ideas. Who knows...?

I'm not quite buying all this stuff though...

BTW, sorry for double post.


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Post last edited by Tea Master Tall on 05.27.2011, 03:17 PM.

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This theory is silly! Miyazaki loves to put deeper meaning and symbolism into his movies, but there is no point to this. He was trying to make an honest, down-to-earth movie for children that encourages kids to explore the outdoors and use their imaginations, NOT some hidden horror movie with dead little girls.


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MarkMaddon11
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I have this film at home, but never really paid that close attention. Checking this out as soon as i get home from work tonight.

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[QUOTE]Originally posted by MarkMaddon11
I have this film at home, but never really paid that close attention. Checking this out as soon as i get home from work tonight. But Totoro is still one of my favorites from Ghibli.

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O-Jay88 quote:
"Though this theory brings up a lot of interesting points I really don't believe it was intended by the creators. The film does touch on the topic of death, considering the mother's illness and how mei almost drowns, but not to the extent that the theory is suggesting, I think."

The thing is, Mother is not close to death and I think that only the girls get this idea from fear of it happening. Mother is seriously ill, yes, but I do not recall it ever being mentioned as life-threatening. She does get ill and the Dr. feels it would be best if she stayed in the hospital another week, but that is all.

As for the pond, Mei doesn't almost drown. The villagers and Grandma especially, get the idea of searching the pond... Mei never got near it unless in passing...

I think the perpetrators of this myth did it for their own amusement, etc.

Ghibli is Ghibli is Ghibli.....

period! lol

That is not to say that they don't deal with death. Take for example Porco Rosso; Pom Poko; Princess Mononoke; Laputa; Nausicaa and Grave of the Fireflies.
But, IMO, Totoro is delivered the way it is meant to, cheerful and fun with a little bit of drama.


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O-Jay88
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quote:
Originally posted by husky51
O-Jay88 quote:
"Though this theory brings up a lot of interesting points I really don't believe it was intended by the creators. The film does touch on the topic of death, considering the mother's illness and how mei almost drowns, but not to the extent that the theory is suggesting, I think."

The thing is, Mother is not close to death and I think that only the girls get this idea from fear of it happening. Mother is seriously ill, yes, but I do not recall it ever being mentioned as life-threatening. She does get ill and the Dr. feels it would be best if she stayed in the hospital another week, but that is all.

As for the pond, Mei doesn't almost drown. The villagers and Grandma especially, get the idea of searching the pond... Mei never got near it unless in passing...

I think the perpetrators of this myth did it for their own amusement, etc.

Ghibli is Ghibli is Ghibli.....

period! lol

That is not to say that they don't deal with death. Take for example Porco Rosso; Pom Poko; Princess Mononoke; Laputa; Nausicaa and Grave of the Fireflies.
But, IMO, Totoro is delivered the way it is meant to, cheerful and fun with a little bit of drama.



Yeah, I agree. I forgot, Mei doesn't even go near the lake, and the idea of the mother dying is all coming from the two girls, who only fear the worst. Got my mind mixed up a bit, I guess . The theory is indeed very far-fetched.


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quote:
Originally posted by husky51

The thing is, Mother is not close to death and I think that only the girls get this idea from fear of it happening. Mother is seriously ill, yes, but I do not recall it ever being mentioned as life-threatening. She does get ill and the Dr. feels it would be best if she stayed in the hospital another week, but that is all.

I agree with all your other points and as I stated, I don't think that Totoro symbolizes death, but this needs some clarification. Mother's illness is never specified in the movie, but in the Totoro manga it becomes clear that mother suffers from tuberculosis (as did Miyazaki's mother when he was the same age as Mei). If I understood correctly, tuberculosis could still be a life-threatening disease in the 40s or 50s. Even though mother's condition is never life-threatening, there's always a chance that it could become it. So part of the girls fear of mother dying is their own idea, but part of it is very real. Edit: oh yeah, forgot to mention my source. The part about the Totoro manga is from Helen McCarthy's book on Miyazaki. I've never read the Totoro manga (even if it is avaidable in our local library) because I can't read japanese.

Post last edited by Heidi80 on 05.31.2011, 03:27 AM.

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Just for informational purposes, I had tuberculosis as an infant and was hospitalized for 1-1/2 yrs out for two and back in for another 6 months or so. I got it from my father who died of diabetes when I was 8 months old. This would have been from 1946 to 1950-51. I have news and family photos of myself in the TB hospital. You are never really 'cured' of the illness, just not active (as in my case). I and my family will all show positive when taking a TB patch test and the only way to determine if I have become active again is by chest xray. I am told that the only way that is likely to happen is if my resistence gets too low, as in a long, drawn out illness or say aids when my immune system would fail.

This is not likely to happen anytime soon...

Interesting note of history. 'Doc' Holiday of OK Corral shootout fame alongside Wyatt Earp died in a hospital of TB also known as consumption at the time...


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Rossdude
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Well I am glad everyone seems to go against it. Especially since I run into Totoro lots these days... worried I was seeing death!! I still think you can pull symbolism from works of art that the artist didn't intend to, but I also think there is plenty of facts that just straight up prove the god of death thing wrong (thanks to you folks and your input and links to info).

Husky- glad you got over the tuberculosis alright.

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