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Animation fans around the world were saddened this week by the announcement that legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki has decided to retire from filmmaking.

A photo posted to Twitter seems to suggest that Miyazaki’s most beloved character, the cuddly forest spirit Totoro, has decided to follow the Studio Ghibli founder’s lead and leave animation behind as well, and in doing so has crossed over into the real world.

At 72 years old, most would say that Miyazaki has definitely earned the right to some rest, and it’s hard to fault his decision to walk away from the director’s chair at the height of his renown. Nevertheless, it appears the impending leadership vacuum at Studio Ghibli was too unsettling for Totoro to feel comfortable remaining in the 2-D world, as the following picture suggests.

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The photographer, Twitter user Minsei, released the picture, along with the suspiciously specific denial, “This isn’t just a picture of some chubby rabbit!”

Japanese Internet commenters had the following to say:

”I totally want to take a nap on top of him.”

”Oh man, every time I look at this, it just keeps getting cuter and cuter.”

”You know, I don’t even really care if it’s a rabbit’s behind or Totoro’s behind anymore. Either way, it’s cute.”

Does Totoro’s unprecedented decision mean we’ll be seeing more Ghibli characters pulling up stakes and making a go of it in our world? If so, some of them seem like they’ll have a smoother transition than others. Teenage witch Kiki’s successful delivery service shows she has a marketable skill, and her upcoming live-action biopic is sure to drum up extra publicity for her business. Princes Nausicca may not have any solid job prospects, but with a group of engineers working to make her glider a reality, at least she’ll have transportation lined up.

For the most part, we feel the Studio Ghibli cast will have no problems living among us, with the exception of Ponyo. We can’t help worrying that the spunky little fish-girl, with no contacts in our world, will be forced to make ends meet by working at one of the goldfish catching games you see at summer festivals in Japan.

▼ Here’s hoping she can save up enough to open her own cotton candy booth, and fast.

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Source: Hamusoku
Top image: Yahoo! Japan
Insert images: Twitter, Adroom