Yet the film's key influences are recognisably Western, notably Alice in Wonderland (the heroines enter another world upon falling down a rabbit hole) and The Wizard of Oz (sleepy forest spirit Totoro is surely too close to Toto not to be a deliberate homage, and the message is again that there's no place like home). Conservatism is seen off with the implicit understanding that home is a place of growth and regeneration rather than stasis, and through the immense charm in the characterisation. Younger viewers will almost certainly identify with the struggles of the wonderfully wide-eyed Mei, keen to prove herself in the shadow of her older sister; adults, whether they want children or not, will want to adopt every cell frame in which Mei appears. Joe Hisaishi's score is perfect, and Miyazaki's artistry, not to mention his great love of nature, is evident in the care and attention lavished upon every butterfly that flutters, and each toad that crawls, across this particular screen.
My Neighbour Totoro screens on Channel 4 this Friday at 2.55am.