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  • Otaku Theory Time: Is Totoro the God of Death?

    Is Totoro Death?

    Major Spoilers

    “My Neighbor Totoro” is a Japanese animation film that if you watch it once, you fall in love with it. Many people can agree to that.

    However, what if I told you there is a theory about a dark secret behind such an innocent film?


    Satsuki and Mei are dead

    The film is about sisters Satsuki and Mei moving to the country side with their father. Their mother is in hospital due to an illness. Mei meets Totoro, but it seems she’s the only one that is able to see him.

    In the later half of the movie, Mei, the younger of the sibiling, goes missing, and Satsuki, the older, attempts to find her. There is a scene where the old lady next door found a slipper near a lake. Fearing that Mei may have been drowned, the old lady asks Satsuki if the slipper belongs to Mei when she arrives at the scene. Satsuki says “It’s not Mei’s” and everyone is relieved. However, this is where the theory starts.

    The theory is that the slipper did in fact belong to Mei and she has drowned, but Satsuki lied to relieve the adults. Theory backs up this point with the fact that the slipper is same color was Mei’s shoes.

    Another weird thing is if you look closely at Mei in the later half, 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 name “Mei” engraved in one of the statues.

    At the end of the movie where the two sisters are united, they leave some corn by there mothers bedside and then go and sit on a tree with Totoro. The question is, why didn’t they directly go see there mother? This might suggest that they are dead by this point. And then their mother says an unforgettable line; “I think i just heard Satsuki and Mei laughing just now”. If she’s able to hear her supposely-dead daughters, wouldn’t that suggest she herself is close to death as well or is already dead?

    Also, the name of the hospital that their mom is at is named Shichikokuyama (七国山病院). In Japan, there is an hospital called Hachikokuyama (八国山病院). Notice how these two hospitals have identical names? Not to mention Hachikokuyama hospital is located in almost the same environment as does the hospital in the movie.

    At the credit scene we see the photo of the family, but the mother and father look a lot younger then during the main film. This suggest that the photo was taken before the movie and not after.


    Connection to Sayama case

    ln May of 1963, in a part of Japan called Sayama, a high school girl gets kidnapped. Her older sister desperately looks for her. A few days later, she find the younger sister brutally murdered. It is said her slipper was found near the spot where they found her body and 6 Ojizou-san were near her body. Hmm it’s quite strange how this case resembles what happened in the film

    Also, at the beginning of the movie when the old lady picks up the box that was dropped, the box is labeled 狭山茶, Sayama Tea. According to the rumors, a tea field is where the older sister found her dead sister.

    Totoro=God of Death

    The Cat-bus destination panel flashes 墓道, which can be translated to “Path of Grave”, then the panel flashes the name, めい (Mei), as Satsuki gets on. And then there’s the song verse that goes “He comes to you, only when you are still a child”.

    In the beginning, Only Mei is able to see Totoro, and Satsuki can see him after Mei goes missing. Satsuki calls out to Totoro, before she can see him, “Mei is all alone and crying. Please take me to her”. Immediately Satsuki can see Totoro afterwards. This indicates that she called out to the God of Death to take her so she can be reunited with her sister.

    Thank you all for reading and have a good day!

    – Flint the Theorist