Tonari no Totoro, or My Neighbor Totoro on English DVD box titles, is a 1988 film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The movie won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1988. This movie was originally released in the U.S. in VHS format with the title, My Friend Totoro. The film was re-released by Disney on March 7, 2006.
An 11-year-old girl. Satsuki is Mei's older sister. Satsuki is the traditional name of the fifth month of the Japanese calendar, the equivalent of the English May.
Satsuki's four-year-old sister. Her name deliberately echoes her sister's, May being the fifth month, reflecting the fact that the story originally featured one girl, who was then divided into an older and younger sister. The widely-distributed promotional image for the film of a girl standing next to Totoro at a bus stop reflects the earlier conception with a single child.
The girls' father, who works in the archaeology and anthropology departments of a Tokyo university.
The girls' mother, recovering from an unnamed illness (confirmed by Miyazaki as being tuberculosis) at Shichikokuyama Hospital, which is noted for its tuberculosis treatment program. Miyazaki's mother had tuberculosis when he was a boy.
A grey and white, friendly forest spirit, whose appearance is a combination of an owl, a cat, and a tanuki and is at least three meters tall. Totoro is Mei's mispronunciation of tor?ìru, the Japanese pronunciation of troll as a loanword. There are two similar, smaller creatures in the film, also referred to as totoro; the big grey Totoro is named "?î-Totoro", or "Miminzuku", the middle is "Ch?½-Totoro", or "Zuku", and the smallest is "Chibi-Totoro", or "Mini". These names do not appear in the film itself, but are used in ancillary materials.
A preteen boy of their village, ambivalent towards Satsuki. This character resembles Miyazaki in his fondness for cartoons and airplanes.
Kanta's grandmother, who sometimes takes care of the girls.
A house cat that undergoes a metamorphosis into a passenger bus, based on the Japanese superstition that if a cat grows old enough, it gains magical shape-changing powers, and is called a bake neko.  Bake neko are mentioned in several Ghibli films.