I'm not gonna sit here and act like I don't think Totoro isn't charming as shit. I'm not going to do that to you people. I mean, seriously. We're talking Totoros. It's charm goes a long way because it has a pretty simple bare bones story. With almost no conflict whatsoever. I think it we were watching your usual children's fare... or really just a normal movie. You know, you would put up roadblocks for our characters. "Adults don't believe them" or "Some Lumber magnate is threatening the forest" you know, crap like that. But we're in exploratory mode with this movie. Just watching kids discover mystical creatures of the forest. Then a kid is lost for a short period of time, but it's certainly nothing we're hinging the movie on. It's merely the highest point. I suppose the closest thing to the conflict throughout is the sick mother... at least, it's the source of drama for the script and what eventually leads the little sister to get lost. But that is about the long and the short of it as far as drama is concerned. Miyazaki can get away with this of course because of the aforementioned charm and the damn visuals that we've all mostly familiar with. You know like a giant cat bus and whathaveyou. Just so we're clear: if you have a giant cat bus, your movie can be whatever it wants to be.
OMG LITTLE GIRL IT IS A TOTOROS!!111