Studio shows off how the beloved character will look inside the Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse section of the park.

The Catbus doesn’t really get al that much screen time in My Neighbor Totoro, but boy does it make an impression. So we figured it was a given that we’d bee seeing the whimsical feline mass transit vehicle somewhere inside Ghibli Park, the theme park based on the anime of Studio Ghibli that’s currently under construction in the city of Nagakute, just outside Nagoya.

What we weren’t counting on, though, was the Catbus getting a redesign, which Ghibli has just shared a sneak peek at through its official Twitter account. In keeping with the studio’s reputation for artistic creativity, it looks very different from the Catbus we saw in the anime, yet there’s still no mistaking it for anything else.

With its button eyes and pillowy physique, this Catbus looks like a patchwork stuffed animal. That might have fans wanting to pick it up and give it a hug, and while we can’t rule out the possibility that plushies like this will be sold in souvenir shops, the primary purpose of this redesign is as a giant addition to the playroom that’s going to be in the Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse section of the park, where young fans can inside and on top of it.

Yes, young fans…but unfortunately not older ones. Following the same policy as the more traditional-looking Catbus at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, only kids will be allowed in/on the Ghibli Park Catbus.

The exact size of the park’s Catbus hasn’t been announced, and the photos shared by Ghibli are of a production model which isn’t a 1:1-scale. Still, if it’s going to be big enough for kids to climb on, it seems like it’ll be sufficiently sized for grown-up fans to appreciate the artistic craftsmanship without needing to be actually get inside it.

▼ Early concept art for Ghibli Park shows a traditional Catbus for the Giant Warehouse playroom, which looks to be about as tall as a full-grown adult.

Reactions from Japanese Twitter users have included gasps of “Kawaii!” as well as forlorn sighs from those assuming they’ll be above the yet-to-be-announced age cutoff for playing inside the Catbus.

“What? Whoa, this is awesome!”
“Kids are gonna go crazy for this!”
“The new Catbus.”
“If only I was still a kid…”
“Why did I have to grow up?”
“Doesn’t it kind of looks like a steamed meat bun?”

“I’m gonna have a new friend I’ve never seen before at Ghibli Park?” asks the Ghibli Museum’s Catbus.

It’s worth noting that there’s still a chance that we’ll see the Catbus in its more familiar form elsewhere in the park, as most of the concept art that’s been shown so far is pretty abstract.

Though not all of Ghibli Park will be ready for visitors on the facility’s opening day, the Giant Warehouse is one of the sections that’ll be open to the public right from the start, on November 1, so we’ll all get to see the new Catbus then…even if we won’t all get to play on it.

Source: Twitter/@JP_GHIBLI (1, 2)
Top image: Studio Ghibli
Insert image: Aichi Prefecture/Studio Ghibli
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