One more reason to visit Ghibli Park.

Out of all the Studio Ghibli anime classics, My Neighbor Totoro has the most laid-back story, but also the most inconclusive ending. Sure, the illustrations show during the ending credits suggest that the mother of main characters Mei and Satsuki eventually recovers from whatever ailments are keeping her in the hospital, but were the events in the movie the last of their adventures with the spirits who inhabit the forests and fields near their new country home?

If you’ve always had the feeling there might be at least one more little story to tell in the world of Totoro, you’ll be happy to know that Ghibli did too. 14 years after My Neighbor Totoro came out in theaters, the studio produced a follow-up anime in 2002, titled Mei and the Baby Catbus (also sometimes known as “Mei and the Kittenbus”). This wasn’t a case of the company rehashing an old idea for a cash grab, either. Mei and the Baby Catbus was written and directed by Totoro creator Hayao Miyazaki himself, and it’s never been released in commercial movie theaters or on home video. Instead, the short film was created for the screening room at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.

For decades, this was the only place you could see Mei and the Baby Catbus, but even then it’s not playing all the time, as the screening room has a catalog of shorts it rotates through on a monthly basis, with no particular order and, as of this time, no confirmed upcoming screening of the Totoro sequel. But here’s the good news; Ghibli Park, the Ghibli theme park located near Nagoya, has a screening room too, and it’s going to be showing Mei and the Baby Catbus next month!

▼ Ghibli Park’s preview image for Mei and the Baby Catbus

At the start of this month, Cinema Orion, as the Ghibli Park screening room is called, announced its schedule for the next few months. Right now it’s showing Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess (also written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki), but for all of November it’ll be switching to Mei and the Baby Catbus.

Ghibli Park’s admission system has different tickets for the different sections of the park, which are scattered about the grounds of Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park. Cinema Orion is located within the Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse zone, so that’s the section you’ll need a ticket for if you want to see Mei and the Baby Catbus.

At a little under 14 minutes in length, Mei and the Baby Catbus isn’t an epic story that shakes up the Totoro narrative, but it’s a theatrical-quality return to one of the most beautifully animated worlds in the history of the medium. And, having been lucky enough to have seen it myself, I can say that it’s also really, really cute and heartwarming.

After November, Mei and the Baby Catbus will be replaced in Cinema Orion by The Day I Bought a Star for December and A Sumo Wrestler’s Tail for January. That’s as far ahead as the screening schedule has been set, so it could be quite some time before there’s another chance to see Mei and the Baby Catbus, though at least we know for sure that we’ll be seeing the debut of the park’s ridable Catbuses next spring.

Source: Ghibli Park
Top image: Studio Ghibli
Insert images: Ghibli Park
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