Studio Ghibli is one of the world’s most recognizable animation houses, but it seems one of its biggest projects managed to fly under the radar for sometime. After all, let’s be honest - did you know there was a sequel to My Neighbor Totoro out there?
If you did, call yourself lucky. Not even Japanese fans had heard of the feature until recently.
Thanks to Rocket News, fans from around the world are just now learning about the Studio Ghibli sequel. The film, which is called Mei and the Kittenbus, got brought into the light when a Twitter user shared stills from the film. Fans freaked over over the presumed fan-art until a few informed die-hards confirmed the artwork was real.
In fact, it is super legit. The sequel was written and directed by Hayao Miyzaki himself.
Mei and the Kittenbus first debuted in 2003 and is considered a short film thanks to its length; The movie is less than fifteen minutes long, but it has plenty of adventures to enjoy. The story takes place after My Neighbor Totoro’s end and follows Mei as she encounters a slew of forest spirits outside of her home.
In the sequel, Mei encounters yet another kittenbus, but it is just a baby. The two go for a flight, and the pair eventually meet up with the first film’s catbus as it goes about shuttling various Totoros around Japan.
On Twitter, the user who posted the images of the Studio Ghibli sequel wanted to see just how many fans knew about the film. In a poll, more than 100,000 fans answered and about 90% said they had no idea My Neighbor Totoro had gotten a follow-up.
If you haven’t heard about the film or seen it, there is good reason. The sequel has not been released in theaters or even been licensed for home release. The short film is an exclusive one to the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. The popular site debuted the film in 2003 and is one of nine films Studio Ghibli rotates at the museum. You can catch it next month in Tokyo if you happen to be taking a trip to Japan, so book tickets while you can!