The majority of movie sequels are a shameless bid for more money with writing quality and artistic integrity falling to shambles. Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli has largely avoided sequel syndrome with unique projects that stand on their own.
However, Miyazaki DID in fact make a sequel of sorts to the hugely popular classic My Neighbor Totoro.
Mei and the Kitten Bus only runs for about 15 minutes, but it follows the adventures of the younger Kukasabe sister as she rides the Kitten Bus, the “child” of the Cat Bus from the first movie. While Mei’s voice actress Chika Sakomoto reprised her role, the short features Hayao Miyazaki himself as both Granny Cat AND the famous Totoro. It’s light on plot and heavy themes, but seeing little Mei go for a wild ride sounds pretty rewarding.
A recent Japanese Twitter poll by Toaru found that despite the film’s 2003 creation, very few people beyond the most devoted of fans know of Mei and the Kitten Bus‘s existence. Only 14% of users admitted to knowing about the sequel.
Still, it’s not exactly the public’s fault that the project has received such little exposure. The only way fans could catch the film was by seeing it screened occasionally at the Ghibli museum in Japan–which is so immensely popular, one often has to buy their tickets several months in advance. The short has only been screened in the United States twice in the past 14 years.
Now, there may be bootlegs and illegal video captures of the animated treasure available online, but the only way you’re going to see Mei and the Kitten Bus as intended is by paying a visit to the Ghibli Museum.
For the month of November, the Ghibli Museum will be holding special screenings of the film. Hopefully you already have your tickets purchased!