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Ghibli films and Hayao Miyazaki are synonymous with anime all over the world, and arguably one of their most popular characters is Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro. It’s easy to see why people love the big huggable guy. He’s cute, he’s fuzzy and he’ll whisk you away on fantastic adventures and introduce you to his other friends, Catbus, blue Totoro and white Totoro.

But when an unofficial Totoro shows up out of the blue, how popular does it need to get before lawyers start sending cease and desist orders?

When people want to use Studio Ghibli characters, they usually obtain the express permission to do so, like with these adorable cream puffs. However, it’s unlikely in this case that the Taiwanese Totoro did as well. So what’s his story?

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According to Lin, the person who made the Totoro, it was put together over the course of two months and only cost about 6,000 TWD (roughly US $182). He was able to achieve this low cost by using mostly scrap wood.

▼ Check out all the little makkuro kurosuke (soot sprites) lining the fence too!

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The three-meter (9.8-foot) statue is attracting a lot of fans to the Dali District of Taichung, Taiwan. On weekends there is a line of people waiting to take pictures with it. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that they are just waiting for a bus…or a cat bus. Cafes nearby are also capitalizing on the influx of people coming to see the statue, as their cutesy food and merchandise are a big hit with the fans.

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Many people who have visited the statue praise it for its attention to even the smallest details, like the hand position and the bus stop sign. There is even a red umbrella by the sign to help achieve your perfect photo posed with Totoro. You almost expect Satsuki and Mei to come strolling around the corner.

But all of this exquisite detail begs the question, was it OK for Lin to have made it in the first place?

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While it doesn’t appear that Studio Ghibli has a history of taking legal action over a fan-made creation such as this, it still probably violates international copyright laws. Since Lin isn’t making any money off of the statue, Studio Ghibli lawyers will most likely give this one a pass. Although, if the studio ever wants to open an official store or museum in the area, you can be sure that statue will be coming down in short order. Hmm…before that happens, maybe Lin should add to his collection. Will Catbus appear on the next rainy day?

Where to find Totoro in Taiwan!
No.133, Qiaocheng Road, Dali District Taichung City
台中市大里路喬城路133號

Source: TVBS via Taiwan no Hanno Blog
Images: TVBS