My Neighbour Totoro (Mara)
Unlike many other children’s films, the story Hayao tells, has a refreshing gentleness. A domestic family scene is the basis for unfolding adventures, which are rich in emotional colour but devoid of the intensity of many action packed children’s dramas.
Two sisters Satsuki and Mei have moved with their father to a beautiful rambling old Japanese farm house, adorned by an expansive garden, in the hope that the country air will improve their mothers health.
Satsuki and Mei’s father is a gentle soul who teaches them to see beauty in the adjoining forest and to embrace the unknown with courage and compassion. He invites them to observe the spirit world that pervades all things and to use their imaginations to compose countless nature based adventures.
It is one of the very few animes that does not default to using good versus evil as the basis for storytelling and reflects a mutually respectful and mature relationship between children and adults, a rare depiction.
My neighbour Totoro represents values that I am instinctively drawn to in day to day life and celebrates characters that have a close relationship with forests, gardens and the natural world.
Here in Blampied, I have my very own neighbour Totoro, called Mara. Not me but another Mara: a blonde, horse riding, circus performing and food garden growing Mara, who cultivates and nurtures a very productive food garden when she is not teaching circus skills to locals. I asked her if I could grab my camera and spend a morning photographing her food forest and her hobbit like home… and she braided her hair, carried boxes of fruit and led the way.