Two of Studio Ghibli’s co-founders team up for stylish microbrew promotion.

Totoro, the forest spirit from Studio Ghibli’s classic anime film My Neighbor Totoro, is one of the most widely recognized and beloved figures in Japanese media. And now, like many other celebrities from the entertainment field, he’s endorsing a brand of beer.

But in keeping with Ghibli’s old-fashioned craftsman’s philosophy to the way it makes anime, the beer which features Totoro’s likeness isn’t a macrobrew from Asahi, Kirin, or any of the country’s other brewing giants. Instead, the character is found on bottles of Niigata Prefecture’s Echigo Beer.

This new version of the character is drawn by Totoro director Hayao Miyazaki himself. If you’re wondering why the crescent-shaped markings on Totoro’s tummy have been replaced by Japanese text, it’s because the drawing is also a signature.

However, the kanji characters don’t spell out Miyazaki’s name, but rather that of Toshio Suzuki, the Studio Ghibli co-founder who served as producer for Totoro and several other hits from the animation house.

Suzuki’s contribution to the label’s design is his calligraphy of the character 遊, pronounced yu and meaning “play” or “enjoyment.” “The calligraphy turned out so well that it’s hard to believe I wrote it,” says Suzuki. “None of the wickedness in my heart is reflected in it.”

So to summarize, Suzuki produced the calligraphy, and then Miyazaki produced Suzuki’s signature. It’s kind of strange for a signature to be created/written by anyone other than the person whose name it matches, but if we’re being honest, if Hayao Miyazaki offered to write our signatures for us, we’d take him up on the offer in a heartbeat.

The special-label Echigo Beer Pilsner is available exclusively from the online shop of the brewery’s parent company here, priced at 4,320 yen (US$39) for a bundle of six bottles, with the Ghibli-created visuals also on the box they ship in.

Source, images: @Press
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he could really go for an Echigo Beer Red Ale right about now.

[ Read in Japanese ]