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It was in one of those recent hot nights as I was sitting on the couch, mindlessly zombified by the hypnotic power of the internet, that I heard a loud noise exploding from the living room.

A drawn out roar bellowed from the gullets of two youngsters, their voices oddly familiar.

With that, in me — life — stirred.

Dad had put on My Neighbour Totoro movie.

I listened. “Makurokurosuke?” A girl chirped curiously on TV. A fatherly voice responded to her in Japanese, and I remembered from memories reading the subtitles underneath, that he was talking about dust bunnies, or soot spirits.

Before long, I had carried my laptop over to the living room and was switching my focus between the big TV screen and the small screen of my laptop.

The vortex of the web can never overpower the magic Hayao Miyazaki’s films.

Soon, the web abandoned, me and my entire family were gathered around the television, spellbound by Mei and Satsuki’s adventure with Totoro and his small friends.

The innocence of Miyazaki’s film, made at a time when bathing naked with the father is a norm, trees loom large close to dirt country roads, and childhood wonder of the paranormal are not scoffed at but listened to, evokes wonders to a jaded soul like me.

My Neighbour Totoro (1988) Studio Ghibli

In some parts of Asia, cultures and religion that appease demons and ghosts still exist and from this belief Hayao Miyazaki had drawn his inspiration. His supernatural world is in stark contrast to the one painted by major religions today. It’s dangerous and superstitious. To dabble with it is sin.

But Miyazaki had made Totoro and friends invisible creatures of kindness and compassion and sometimes obliviousness, harmless to that effect. My Neighbor Totoro is fiction, but fiction with cute supernatural elements that I wish was true. More than a decade later, Miyazaki returned to this world with the film Spirited Away and with it immersed audiences once more in a truly fantastical world of demons and spirits.

Spirited Away (2001) Studio Ghibli

Back here on earth, reality is bleak. Demons or spirits or ghosts are like pests in some unfortunate houses and they do harm people, despite what sceptics believe. Angels are afforded only to the faithful and I’m not sure God would send me one seeing that I am hardly innocent and sweet.

That is a bummer.

Well. At least I have the films to keep me company. We need more innocent stories here… less Twilight sex instigating stories…

War Horse (2011) Dreamworks Pictures. Photo by David Appleby

And lastly I am glad someone in the film industry still has the decency to make quality happy endings films, aside from Disney. I’m talking about War Horse, post watching the film, I couldn’t help feeling elated for days.


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