My Neighbor Totoro
, while being one of Studio Ghibli's most important films, is also director Hayao Miyazaki's most universally iconic. Riding off the success of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
(1984) and Castle in the Sky
(1986), Miyazaki decided to take a leap of faith and do something that would hit a little closer to home for him. Studio Ghibli's two previous films had garnered their success by playing to the public desires of animation at the time; magic, fantasy and futuristic plots and themes were extremely popular in Japan, and it was thought that anything else would prove to be a failure. But My Neighbor Totoro
proved to be everything but a failure, eventually becoming a globally recognized figure, and being adopted by Studio Ghibli as their logo/mascot.
Originally released in 1988, it actually took 10 years for Miyazaki to fully develop the story, while still making changes halfway through production. The idea for the film came during a time when Miyazaki was most unhappy about his career. He had just been offered to do a children's show on a Japanese television network, but he knew if he accepted, he would be giving up his own artistry and point of view. So, instead, he began writing what he thought would be a children's book, which ended up being a life-changing story. *The original article can be seen here.*