DVD: My Neighbor Totoro (Disney)


My Neighbor Totoro

English DVD Title (Region 1)

My Neighbor Totoro


Japanese (2.0 Stereo), English (2.0 Stereo), French (2.0 Stereo)

Aspect Ratio:

English, French
86 minutes
1.85:1 Anamorphic


My Neighbor Totoro



  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (12)
  • Trailers: My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo (US), Toy Story/Toy Story 2 (Blu-ray), The Princess and the Frog (Blu-ray), Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (Blu-ray), Beauty and the Beast (Blu-ray), Toy Story 3, My Neighbor Totoro/Kiki's Delivery Service/Castle in the Sky/Ponyo (DVD)
  • Behind the Studio: Creating My Neighbor Totoro (3 minutes)
  • Behind the Studio: Creating the Characters (4 minutes)
  • Behind the Studio: The "Totoro" Experience (2 minutes)
  • Behind the Studio: Producer's Perspective - Creating Ghibli (1 minute)
  • Behind the Studio: The Location of "Totoro" (28 minutes)
  • Behind the Studio: Scoring Miyazaki (7 minutes)
  • Behind the Microphone (6 minutes)
  • The World of Ghibli: Enter the Lands
  • The World of Ghibli Previews: Kiki's Delivery Service/Castle in the Sky/Ponyo
  • Original Japanese Storyboards (86 minutes)



By: Anthony Romero

This release, sometimes called the "My Neighbor Totoro: Special Edition DVD", is the second DVD set for the film from Disney. It follows their 2006 My Neighbor Totoro DVD, having the same video and audio presentations, which range from good to great. However, the extras here have been expanded while all new menus have also been created for this release.

 Video: Star Rating

Pretty much identical to their 2006 release, the video quality here is good, although shows signs of its age. Chief among these is a rather persistent layer of grain through out the movie. This is amplified a bit by the compression techniques used, resulting in a movie with a lot of noise in the frame. Thankfully, the 1988 movie fairs pretty well in terms of its colors, which are distinct although the reds could be more vibrant and the reason they are not is due largely to the level of compression. Also sadly the frame is a little unstable on the rare occasion. Outside of these moments, the sharpness is generally good for a standard definition release.

Similar to their two disc Spirited Away DVD, this release comes with variants for the opening and closing credits. These will depend on what version of the movie is selected. So the Japanese version will have the original Japanese opening, while the English version will have English titles. Thankfully there isn't a huge discrepancy in terms of quality between them and the main video track, which it will transition to after the unique segments are done.

My Neighbor Totoro is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is anamorphic for widescreen TVs.


 Audio: Star Rating

For the audio presentation, the DVD borrows from the previous release and presents the same three audio tracks. This includes one in Japanese and two dubbed versions, one in English and one in French. All three tracks are in stereo, Dolby Digital 2.0, which is faithful to the original stereo of the 1988 movie. The Japanese and English tracks sound crisp with good clarity in the dialogue, especially great considering the age of the Japanese track. The English version included is the one created for 2006, with stars like Tim Daly, Dakota Fanning and Lea Salonga lending their voice talents. For those attached to the 1990's dub, it's not surprising that it wasn't included here. Sadly, in terms of the last audio track, the French one is a bit lacking, as it doesn't have the level of clarity in the dialogue as the other two.

While the available audio does a good job with a presentation that was close to the original release, a surround track would have been nice. This is especially true for sequences like the Cat Bus running through the field, as the wind and moving characters would have really benefited from the sense of direction in the audio track. That said, even the Blu-ray release doesn't have a surround track, so while it's a nice wish list item, it's not worth deducting points from the 1988 release for not having a converted surround track.

The movie can be accompanied by removable English or French subtitles. For English, there are two versions: one that subtitles the Japanese dialogue and another that is a closed caption track for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.


 Extras: Star Rating

For a two disc set, the packaging for this release does a bad job of selling the bonus content. In fact, the back of the case makes it feel like the only bonus is a Storyboard version and a World of Ghibli feature. As it turns out, though, that latter is rich with content and is not a single extra but a suite of features. It includes everything from the earlier release and a lot more, although with the puzzling choice to make it hard to get to thanks to needless menus.

First up for the bonus features are the Original Japanese Storyboards. This 86 minute extra, outside of the opening credits which have no storyboards, basically showcases the storyboards while audio from the movie is playing. The audio can be either in Japanese or English. It can be accompanied by removable English or French subtitles, and similar to the movie the English side has both subtitles or closed captions to choose from. It's not a stellar feature, but should interest some and was included on the earlier release.

Next we have the World of Ghibli: Behind the Studio content. These are a mixture of interviews in Japanese with burnt-in subtitles and clips from the movie with English dialogue. They are presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and video quality wise are pretty good. The first four each ranging around 1 to 4 minutes in length. Subjects include influences to creative decisions to even reflecting on the lackluster box office before it became a sensation as the years went on.

Then it changes gears with the 28 minute The Location of "Totoro" feature, which was originally from The Scenery of Ghibli. This is fully in Japanese with removable English subtitles. It covers real world locations that are similar to those in My Neighbor Totoro. While it's kind of interesting to see the daily life and how accurately the film still mimics it today in the countryside, it's not the most compelling feature as the relation to Totoro reaches a little since these aren't the definitive inspirations.

Next we have another extra done like the previous four, with Japanese and burnt-in English subtitles. This one is seven minutes and focusing on scoring the movies with an interview with Joe Hisaishi. Last in the Behind the Studio content is the original Japanese trailer, still in awful quality, and the six minute Behind the Microphone feature from the earlier release that covers dubbing the movie.

Finally is the Enter the Lands feature. This is a menu based extra where the viewer can click around the map. When doing so, a small English (or French) recap of the movie starts up. Viewers can click on My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Kiki's Delivery Service or Castle in the Sky. When clicking, after the recap, there can be character bios or just things to click on for a video. Kids might be amused by it, although it's not a stellar feature and is a bit of a tease since it shows stuff like Porco Rosso (1992), Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2001) but you can't click on them.

For one last bonus, the set also comes with a My Neighbor Totoro post card in the case. This is of the same image seen on the front cover. It's a high quality post card, printed on good paper, and is a neat extra. It can easily just be left inside the case as well.


 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line, this improves the bonus content of the 2006 release, while offering the same video and audio presentation. As a whole, that makes this the best of the DVD releases of this film in the United States. Is that enough to upgrade for those who have the 2006 edition? Not at all. But those who need a DVD version and are wondering which of the Disney titles to get, this is the superior edition.

As a side note, the Blu-ray copy from Disney uses the first disc from this set as the DVD feature film on their Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.