Is she a secretly evil old lady? Or a prankster spirit in disguise? Japanese netizens discuss.

My Neighbor Totoro is a world-famous movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, but it is so popular in Japan and Asia that you can buy Totoro merchandise of every kind. Fancy a bathing suit with Totoro’s face on it? Or a startlingly Totoro-like giant stuffed animal bed (which we are assured by the makers is definitely not Totoro)? How about a tea collection? You name it, we’re willing to bet you can buy it.

One particular Totoro souvenir has become a hot topic on Japanese Twitter recently: a deck of playing cards featuring scenes and characters from the movie. It all started when one Japanese netizen wondered why Kanta’s nice old granny was the character chosen to be on the joker card.

▼ “I really can’t figure out why Granny would be on the joker card if she didn’t do a single bad thing in the story!”

Typically, when you have multiple characters from any franchise represented on playing cards, each one is assigned a value, like King, Queen, Jack, etc. And, usually, those values are also equal to the role the character plays in the story. The “joker” might be a prankster whose role is to cause problems in a story, or in the traditional definition, they might be a stupid and/or funny character.

Granny clearly doesn’t fit the bill of either definition. She’s no troublemaker, jokester, or fool; she’s a very serious and sweet lady, always helping out her neighbors and acting motherly towards the local children. So why should she be placed on the joker card? Some netizens made jokes that Granny is actually ridiculously strong, based on the fact that the joker is the strongest card in many playing card games:

“Granny is the strongest!”
“My friend always laughs at this card, saying Granny is really strong.”
“She’s probably like a secret boss.”
“It’s because Granny is the trump card [of the movie]!”

▼ Could it be because of how loudly she yells “Kanta!!!” when her grandson gets in trouble?

But the prevailing theory among Japanese netizens is actually based on a pun. In a popular card game in Japan called “Baba Nuki”, the ultimate goal is to get rid of all of your cards and so you won’t get stuck with the joker card, or the “baba”, at the end of the game, and thus be named the loser. “Baba” in Japanese is also a word for granny, so some netizens theorize that Ghibli took advantage of a very punny opportunity by placing a “baba” on the “baba” card.

In all honesty, though, it might just be coincidence that Granny showed up on the joker card. After all, the other joker in this deck is the father of the two main characters, and each of the four versions of each number card have different pictures of different characters anyway.

But what am I saying? That kind of logic doesn’t have a place in these conversations, and it won’t stop Japanese netizens from discussing this and other such important topics of our time.

Source: Hachimakiko
Featured Image: Twitter/@yabu777