Since its theatrical release in 1988, Hayao Miyazaki‘s classic My Neighbor Totoro has charmed audiences the world over. But, did you know there was a secret sequel to the film, viewable only in a single theater in Japan?
Since 2003, Mei and the Kittenbus has been one of several shorts shown exclusively at the Saturn Theater at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan (in the Tokyo suburbs). The 14-minute short tells the story of Mei befriending Kittenbus—the baby offspring of fan-favorite Catbus—and the trip the two of them take into the forest. Many believe the film was voice actor Hitoshi Takagi’s last before he died.
— とある (@33kitta) 2017年10月10日
The sequel came to public attention when a Twitter user 33Kitta posted some footage from the sequel and hosted a survey asking fans if they heard of this sequel, where it was confirmed that only 14 percent participants had, while 86 percent doesn’t. 1988’s My Neighbor Totoro sequels, Mei and Kittenbus released in 2003 and never officially released in cinemas or on DVD, it has only been shown in Ghibli museums which can be seen with special screenings in every nine months and was only shown twice in the US.
— とある (@33kitta) 2017年10月10日
Mei and the Kittenbus is a short 14 minutes long sequel written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki himself, which is screened right after My Neighbor Totoro features the main protagonist little Mei, voiced by Chika Sakamoto and a baby Catbus. The sequel has been shown several times at the Saturn Theater at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan and is considered one of the best in the world of their beloved Japanese Studio.
The Saturn Theater rotates shorts each month, though, so you’ll have to time your trip just right if your heart is set on seeing Mei and the Kittenbus. It’s set to run during the entire month of November, though it’s probably too late for most of us to plan a last minute trip to Tokyo.
Plus, you’ll first have to buy a ticket to the Ghibli Museum itself, which can be difficult. Tickets must be purchased in advance, with blocks released a month at a time on the 10th of the prior month. Unfortunately, these tickets go fast; November tickets sold out within a day of going on sale. Some additional tickets are made available exclusively to travelers from outside of Japan, but these, too, are sold out for November.
But, fear not! Mei and the Kittenbus is just one of nine shorts screened exclusive at the Ghibli Museum, and almost all of them are written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki himself. The one exception, Chūzumō (about a group of sumo-wrestling rats), was directed by Akihiko Yamashita but based on a script by Miyazaki. So, you might not get to see that Kittenbus, but you’re still guaranteed some of the Studio Ghibli magic.
Plus, there’s the Ghibli museum itself, which looks incredible—and absolutely magical. There’s a 15 foot tall giant from Castle in the Sky waiting outside, exhibits on the Studio Ghibli movies inside, and a not-quite-lifesize plush Catbus for kids to play on. (Don’t worry, there’s now a full-size Catbus you can ride, too!)
Do you think seeing Mei and the Kittenbus—or just getting a chance to ride on the Catbus—is worth a trip to Tokyo? Let us know in the comments!