“Do you like spirits, mommy? Even fuzzy ones?”
Many years ago, I was at a party thrown by, and attended by, varied people from a Philadelphia BBS. (This would be internet-before-the-world-wide-web, when we connected via modems and messaging systems, when 2400 baud was still pretty common and 9600 was incredibly fast and why are you laughing?? Get off my lawn!)
So. There was this party where people were bringing in videos of things most of us had never seen. It’s where I first saw “Bambi VS Godzilla” and “Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown,” as well as several of the Warner Bros. cartoons that are too politically incorrect to be shown anymore (although you can find them easily enough on YouTube).
And then someone walked in with an animated film – Japanimation, to give you an idea of how far back this story goes – that needed a bit of explanation. “This isn’t in English,” he said. “I have no idea what it’s really about. But it’s awesome and you have to watch it.”
The title of this movie? “My Neighbor Totoro.”
It was in Japanese with no subtitles, and it was…bewildering. And amazing.
A few years later, I saw this movie for rent and told my mom we had to get it.
“What’s it about?”
“I have NO IDEA. But you’ll love it.”
And she did, of course. Because it’s amazing. Really, it’s the perfect bit of anime for me, with its soot sprites and bizarre cats and nature spirits.
Based on all of this, you’d think that I’d love anime.
I seriously have zero interest in the genre, outside of the work of Hayao Miyazaki.
But that’s not to say I won’t give it a chance. I think it’s one of the personality traits I find most frustrating in other people, the inability to give something new a chance, to give it 10 minutes of your life and see if it’s worth 10 minutes more. (This is a concept my friend Gwendolyne introduced to me, and it’s brilliant.) I’m not always good about this practice, myself; but I know that when I am, those are 10 minutes of understanding/experience/compassion that enrich my life, and so really, I can’t recommend the idea highly enough.
…And part of me still kinda wants to snuggle a totoro.