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Design analysis|My Neighbour Totoro

Over the summer, I was on a binge-watching mode with Studio Ghibli films and ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ was clearly one of my favourites. I have selected this poster created by Marko Manev mainly because of its ability to convey what the film is about. It is simple and does not have many elements but is still aesthetically pleasing.



When you look at the grid, you can see that the poster has been divided by 4 lines horizontally and 10 lines vertically. The vertical lines are arranged in such a way that Totoro, the big, fluffy creature at the bottom, is centrally placed on the poster, making it possible for viewers to notice it the first time they see the poster. Placing Totoro at the centre gives the poster a very symmetrical appearance, with the tiny creatures on both sides of Totoro placed at equal distances away from it.


Also, there are not many elements on the poster which is why the three creatures at the bottom immediately stands out. The space behind them is filled only by the tree, diverting all the attention to the creatures.


The color palette used helps define a hierarchy of elements in the poster. As you can see here, there were primarily 7 colors used, with a majority of it constituting different shades of green. The darkest shade of green used at the bottom of the poster is what immediately draws the viewer’s eyes, and with the use of lighter shades of green, the color palette guides the viewer’s eyes upwards towards the rest of the poster. The use of the same shade of light blue for the sky, in the border around the poster and for the text highlights the consistency of the design, and that keeping it simple is always better.


In order to highlight smaller elements like the cat bus at the top of the poster or the butterflies at the bottom, colors belonging to opposite spectrums have been juxtaposed with each other. So if the element is dark green, it is set against a white background. If the element is light blue, it is set against a dark green backdrop. The juxtaposition helps in creating hierarchy and differentiates the different elements.

I particularly like how all the colors used are very subtle and no one element jumps out at you. The use of neutral colors is also consistent with the color palette of the film itself and creates a very calming effect on viewers.


The most identical font I found to the one used in the poster was the DietDidot font. Although there isn’t much text on this poster, the use of the color blue against a backdrop of dark green, and its placement right below Totoro, highlights the text even more. The slightly jumbled arrangement of the text also highlights a playfulness associated with kids and brings out the fact that ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ is a light, enjoyable film that children would like. But definitely, as I can attest, so can grown-ups!



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