My Neighbor Totoro: Horror Stories Behind Studio Ghibli?s Beloved Anime

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Who would have thought that this heartwarming family favorite animated film is tied to a real life, dark murder story? Even though Studio Ghibli addressed the issue, saying there is no truth in these theories, some of the fans can?t help but see the connection or rather cannot unsee the connection once you learn about it. Continue reading if you want to know about My Neighbor Totoro ?s horror story.

Urban Legend #1: The Sayama Incident

It was reported then that My Neighbor Totoro was based on the Sayama Incident of 1963. In May 1, 1963 in a town called Sayama, a 16 year old highschool girl named Yoshie Nakata was kidnapped on her way home from school. Later that night, her older sister receives a note asking to bring 200,000 yen at a certain place close to their home. The kidnapper escapes as soon as he senses the police surrounding the area. A few days later, Yoshie Nakata?s body was found after being raped and killed. It was also reported that the older sister committed suicide later on. This can be connected to the movie based on the following:

The Sayama incident happened in May: My Neighbor Totoro?s main characters are 2 sisters. The older sister is named Satsuki, which means the month of May in Japanese, while the younger sister is named Mei, which also sounds like May.

The film was set in Tokorozawa City, which is next to Sayama City hence the title, My ?Neighbor? Totoro. There were other hints in the movie such as in the beginning, while unpacking, the box beside the old lady was labeled, Sayama Tea. Rumor has it that the meeting place on the ransom note was in a tea field.

Urban Legend #2 Both Satsuki and Mei are dead

Later into the film, Mei goes missing and Satsuki runs around the village to find her. The old lady finds a slipper, that looks exactly like Mei?s, by the river and asks Satsuki if it indeed was Mei?s. Satsuki says no and runs off to where Totoro is. This is where this theory begins.

Mei could really have drowned in that lake and Satsuki was just in denial. According to SomeOrdinaryGamers, ?Another weird thing is if you look closely at Mei in the later half of the film, her shadow is more transparent than it was in the first half. Her shadows became more faint. Then, when Satsuki is calling out her sister’s name, and running around, she passes by Ojizou-san (the stone statues). These Ojizou-san are usually found near actual graveyards in Japan. Ojizou-san are also said to be guardians of children’s souls. If you look at the scene frame-by-frame, there’s the name “Mei” engraved in one of the statues.


Mei – My Neighbor Totoro

At the end of the movie, the two sisters are united and they sit on a tree near the hospital with Totoro. They leave a corn for their mother instead of greeting her directly. Between their parents, the only one who noticed their presence was the mother who soon was also going to die.

With all these mysterious, yet undeniably coincidental connections, Totoro as the God of Death is an urban legend that will most probably be passed on from generation to generation. Knowing what you now know, will you still be able to look at Totoro the same way?

We?d like to hear your thoughts!

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