Did Studio Ghibli just tease a Pixar collaboration?

Now that’s how you break the internet.

by Jenna Mahale
18 May 2021, 11:35am

For all its flaws so far, 2021 has seen some killer cultural collaborations. We’ve had Billie Eilish x Rosalía, Ganni x Ahluwalia, and who could forget Telfar Clemens for White Castle? Just stunning. Before, a Studio Ghibli/Pixar crossover was an artefact we could hardly let ourselves dream about — could the Japanese studio ever join forces with the US animation giant, despite their differences? According to the official Studio Ghibli Twitter, it may be more likely than you’d think.

On May 13, the account @JP_GHIBLI sent its half-a-million-plus followers into a tailspin with one captionless tweet, posting an image of the eponymous spirit from the studio’s 1988 animated fantasy hit My Neighbour Totoro, with a notably American twist. Two characters from Pixar’s CGI masterpiece Monsters Inc. (2001) — Michael “Mike” Wazowski and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan, if you didn’t know — join Totoro at the iconic forest bus stop as rain pours down around them, replacing sisters Mei and Satsuki who appear in the original. According to a recent article in HYPEBEAST, “The beloved scene has been featured on promotional posters for the film for many years and is easily recognisable by fans worldwide.”

However, this isn’t the first time the worlds of Ghibli and Pixar have intertwined. Totoro himself makes an appearance in 2010’s Toy Story 3 as a large, plush soft toy. You have to appreciate the realism. But even before that, the biggest names from each studio — Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter, from Ghibli and Pixar respectively — have a history of their own. 

According to the Tokyo-based news site SoraNews24: “The two first met way back in 1980, during pre-production talks for a proposed animated adaptation of Little Nemo.” And later, when Lasseter 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.”

So while we probably aren’t getting a reboot in the way of a My Neighbour Totoro, Inc. film, the evidence points to the legendary animation studios having an enduring appreciation of one another, that may well lead to some incredible, fusional, cinematic art in the future. Fingers crossed!

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