Published: 17th March 2021

What to talk to your kids about after watching My Neighbor Totoro

Are you planning on watching My Neighbor Totoro with your kids? Here's the age rating, information about what's in the film, and some ideas for topics to talk about once the credits roll.

My Neighbor Totoro (1998) is an animated Japanese film set in postwar rural Japan which tells the story of two young sisters, 10-year-old Satsuki and her little sister Mei. The girls have just moved into their new home in the countryside with their dad whilst their mother is in hospital with a long term illness. As the two girls explore their new home and it’s surrounding forest, they discover lots of magical forest creatures including the friendly Totoro, a large grey forest spirit, who aids them in their journey to visit their mother in hospital.


Infrequent scenes of mild threat occur in which two young girls encounter some large creatures that growl loudly and loom toward them with their mouths open, but they soon discover they are friendly. There are brief scenes of mild threat when a young child goes missing, but this is quickly resolved.

Topics to talk to your kids about after watching My Neighbor Totoro

  • Did you enjoy the film? How did the film make you feel? Were there any bits of the story that you didn’t like? Who was your favourite character? Did you learn anything from the film? If so, what?
  • The film you saw was the subbed version of the Japanese language film. Are there things about the story, setting, or characters that look or feel Japanese? Did you enjoy watching a film in another language?
  • Do you think there are any heroes or villains in the film?
  • Do you agree with the BBFC age rating? What about the info for parents? Would you add or remove anything? Is it helpful to know about what is in a film before you watch it?
  • Do you think Totoro is real? If not, what do you think the spirits represent? How do Mei and Satsuki react to Totoro? Are they afraid of him? If not, why? How does the animation of the creatures tell you that they are friendly?
  • In the film, the girl’s mum is poorly and is in hospital. How does her illness affect the two sisters? Do they react differently?
  • Totoro and The Catbus only appear to the girls when they need them most and disappear the rest of the time. Why do you think this is?
  • Mei follows rabbit-like creatures through a tunnel to the base of a camphor tree and falls down a hole at the bottom of the tree. When she is found, she says she met Totoro. Does this remind you of any thing?
  • The film is set in the countryside and the sisters spend lots of time exploring nature. How much nature is there where you live? Have you been in a park or anywhere with not a lot of people, cars, or buildings? Can you describe what it was like?
  • Satsuki and Mei bow to statues when they ask for permission to seek shelter during a rainstorm, and they can be seen again when Mei is lost. What does this film teach you about respect?
  • Have you seen any other Studio Ghibli films? How do they compare to My Neighbor Totoro? Do they share any themes?