SwingDaddy and I have always loved the movie My Neighbor Totoro, the animated fantasy film by Hayao Miyazaki, ever since a friend introduced it to us in VHS form in the mid 90's. We haven't watched it in years, but since SwingDaddy just spent a few days in Japan and brought home a small stuffed Catbus, we sat down to our first official Family Movie Night this weekend and had a blast.
The two girls in the story are about the same age as Q-ster and Buster are now, and watching the little detailed interactions with their dad are just spectacular. There's a totally new view, now that we're parents. Mei, the younger girl, jumps on her sleeping dad to wake him up in the morning with that total disregard for sharp little elbows and needing to treat people differently than furniture. She's also determined (stubborn?) in the newly-four year old manner that we occasionally see in our household.
In the picture above, the girls are waiting at the bus stop for their father to arrive, and they are joined by the giant Totoro, who waits with them until the Catbus arrives for him. Yes, it's a cat and bus - don't think too hard about it. SwingDaddy said that while he was in Japan, standing at the bus stop in the rain with his colleagues, he couldn't help looking from side to side, wondering whether the Catbus or Totoro himself would appear.
The newer DVD translation, starring Dakota and Elle Fanning, has more clues to guide the American audience, but we're still fond of the earlier VHS translation that has some charming cultural moments. When the older girl, Satsuki, is frantically searching for the lost Mei, Totoro sends the Catbus to the rescue. The destination sign on the Catbus' roof (head?) flips to a new set of Japanese characters, and the translation says, "Next Stop: Little Sister."
We had a great time with a special meal and lots of chatter in front of the television together and have grand plans to have Family Movie Night again next weekend.