Fans wonder if this is a cryptic sign that a dream collaboration between the two animation companies is on the horizon. 

Ever since Studio Ghibli opened an official account on Twitter in December, the famous animation company has been titillating fans by lifting the curtain on what goes on behind-the-scenes, sharing exciting revelations and heartwarming images from their Tokyo studio.

Now, the studio has sent fans into a tizzy with one of their latest tweets, which exploded in popularity over the weekend, earning over 160,000 likes and 25,000 retweets. The reason for the interest in the tweet is the fact that it contains a drawing featuring a famous scene from Studio Ghibli’s 1988 hit classic, My Neighbour Totoro… but with the surprising addition of some new characters.

The tweet shows friendly giant Totoro, standing under an umbrella in the rain at the bus stop in the forest, in a scene so beloved it featured on promotional posters for the film.

Fun fact: Despite sisters Mei and Satsuki appearing in this scene in the film, the promo poster shows a different “mystery” girl, as Miyazaki originally envisioned one girl in the role.

▼ Right: Mei and Satsuki in the film. Left: the “mystery” girl on the poster, who some believe to be the girls’ mother.

Now, instead of standing next to a human companion, as seen in both the film and the Ghibli posters, Totoro can be seen standing next to Michael “Mike” Wazowski and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan from the 2001 Pixar-produced American CGI film, Monsters, Inc.

The fact that Studio Ghibli shared the image on their official Twitter account, and with no caption whatsoever, had fans clamouring to determine whether this was a cryptic message alluding to a possible upcoming collaboration between the two animation powerhouses.

“Are they making an official collaboration announcement?!”
“I would definitely watch this movie!”
“Monsters and Totoro! What a wonderful world that would be!”
“Wow, so Totoro and Sulley are roughly the same height!”
“Totoro’s friends at the bus stop have grown!”
“I want to get lost in a word like this!”
“The mutual love these two animation studios have for each other is everything!”

As people let their imaginations roam to a world where Totoro, Sulley and Mike set out on exciting crossover adventures, other commenters were quick to point out that this wasn’t the first time the worlds of Ghibli and Pixar have officially collided.

▼ Totoro appeared as a soft toy in Pixar’s 2010 film, Toy Story 3.

In fact, the two animation studios share a close fondness for each other, thanks to the friendship and mutual respect shared by their big-name directors: Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter.

The two first met way back in 1980, during pre-production talks for a proposed animated adaptation of Little Nemo, and when Lasseter later visited Japan, he made sure to stop by the Ghibli Museum, where he drew a signed sketch of Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story on a wall inside the projection room of the Saturn Theatre, which can still be seen to this day.

Though the artist behind the Monsters, Inc. x Totoro image is yet to be verified, we do know where the picture exists, thanks to this screenshot from a documentary on the anime industry broadcast in Japan on NHK in December 2019.

▼ The text on the screen shows the screenshot has been flipped, which is why Totoro appears on the left instead of the right.

The image above shows the picture hangs on a wall at the offices of Studio Ghibli in Tokyo’s Mitaka Ward, in the same neighbourhood as the Ghibli Museum. Given that the picture dates back to at least 2019, but likely way before that, the tweet doesn’t appear to be a cryptic announcement for an upcoming Totoro, Inc. or My Neighbour Monsters, Inc. movie. However, it is curious that just one month ago, Studio Ghibli shared this message online:

▼ “Love Pixar.”

That’s the same image of Totoro, Sulley and Mike, as viewed by Earwig (a.k.a. Aya), from Ghibli’s first-ever CG anime, Earwig and the Witch, who took followers on a virtual tour of the Ghibli offices.

Given that the Pixar picture was blurry in last month’s tweet, it could just be that Ghibli was offering fan service to those who wanted to see more details of the image, which could explain why they chose to express their love for Pixar twice over the space of around four weeks.

While it’s true that the love for Pixar is strong here — every time a Ghibli film travels outside of Japan for the first time, it’s first shown at Pixar Animation — we’ll now have to wait and see if there’ll be any further public displays of affection, or breadcrumbs to follow, between the two animation studios.

Source: Twitter/@JP_GHIBLI via Nijimen
Featured image: Twitter/@JP_GHIBLI
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