In May 2021, Studio Ghibli shared an image of Totoro standing at the bus stop with Sulley and Mike from Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. That got many people wondering if the two studios might work on something together, and the image went viral.
— スタジオジブリ STUDIO GHIBLI (@JP_GHIBLI) May 13, 2021
This May, Studio Ghibli tweeted it again, and just like before, the image went viral.
Then a few days later, they tweeted the full image, so you see it’s more than just the Totoro/Monsters, Inc scene. It’s a homage to Studio Ghibli from Pixar, including handwritten notes and drawings.
— スタジオジブリ STUDIO GHIBLI (@JP_GHIBLI) May 5, 2022
For instance, John Lasseter wrote this message next to his drawings of Buzz and Woody from Toy Story:
“Domo, Miyazaki-san My Friend!”
Here are some other notes from Pixar employees to Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli:
“Miyazaki-san, you are an endless source of inspiration to us!”
“To Miyazaki, we’re your biggest fans!”
“You bring so much to film. Thank you!”
Why are they showing this off in May? Well, Totoro is themed around the month of May, from its spring showers to its plays on names. The character Mei’s name of course sounds like May, and the character Satsuki is named after the traditional Japanese word for the month.
SoraNews24 translated some of the excited reactions from netizens to seeing the homage from Pixar:
“The illustrations by Pixar staff of Totoro and the robot soldiers are so precious!”
“The scribbles in amongst the signatures and respect is truly wonderful!”
“A wonderful exchange between people across countries who have the same animation aspirations!”
“This has totally warmed my heart!”
GKIDS gave this description of My Neighbor Totoro:
“When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children. Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece featuring the voices of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning, in early roles.”
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin. She is also the author of its upcoming sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.