Set in mid-20th century rural Japan, it tells a story of two young sisters move to a simple country house with their father. Their mother is hospitalised some way off recovering from a long illness. Their new country environment brings them into contact with the potent energies of nature. Over a series of encounters they build a friendship with a mysterious nature spirit called a Totoro, who eventually renders them crucial aid in a time of need.
The film stands out in so many ways. It has no bad guy. Its central characters are girls aged 8 and 4. It deals with the supernatural with wonder and without horror. It can be enjoyed both by adults and the youngest and most sensitive children. It has a beautiful soundtrack. And it brims with vivid sensory experiences and astute observations from our world: the clinginess of children in times of uncertainty, the feel of the breeze on a warm summer night, the sound of first raindrops in a pond.
I especially recommend this film to parents looking for delightful and inspiring material to enjoy with their children.