Not exactly a continuation, but a anime short named Mei and the Kittenbus. Currently there has been no commercial release for this film.
Back in 2001 Studio Ghibli opened a museum dedicated to their films in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka. The museum was designed by Ghibli’s leading light Hayao Miyazaki and one of his specifications was that a special cinema should be incorporated to show short films as ‘exhibits’. Three short films were made, each with a running time of around 15 minutes, but despite the charm of Whale Hunt and Koro’s Big Day Out the one fans wanted to see was Mei and the Kittenbus.
Mei and the Kittenbus (めいとこねこバス Mei to Konekobasu) is a sequel to My Neighbor Totoro, written and directed by Miyazaki. Chika Sakamoto, who voiced Mei in Totoro, returned to voice Mei in this short. Hayao Miyazaki himself did the voice of the Granny Cat (Neko Ba-chan), as well as Totoro. This is a short film about 14 minutes long, which was shown for a limited time only at the Ghibli Museum in 2002. but has not been released to home video.
As any Ghibli fan will suspect from the title, this short film brings back the familiar country house and some of the characters that featured in Hayao Miyazaki’s 1988 film My Neighbour Totoro. It concentrates on the character of Mei Kusakabe from the original film and her adventures one night with the Kittenbus (the child of the Catbus from the film) and other cat-oriented vehicles.
Whilst playing outside she notices a strange little tornado zipping around like it’s alive so she shoos it into her house so she can try and catch it. When she grabs it though it turns into the titular Kittenbus, which is terrified until she placates it with some caramel. Unfortunately her time with the Kittenbus is cut short by the arrival of its parent – the Catbus from My Neighbour Totoro. However, that isn’t the end of her fun, her newfound friend returns at night to whisk her away on a magical journey to a great meeting of spirits where she meets a familiar face…
Mei is just small enough to ride in the kittenbus, which is only big enough to stir up dust devils, rather than making whole fields of rice sway in its breeze. One night they have an adventure in which they fly into the forest with many other cat-based vehicles, including many buses and trains. There they meet Totoro and many similar spirits, all heading for a gigantic catliner. This liner cruises off into the sky and the kittenbus takes Mei home.
Mei and the Kittenbus is a charming short film that manages the seemingly impossible by recapturing the magic and fun of My Neighbour Totoro, a film considered by many to be the finest anime of all time. It’s not really a sequel, it’s a side story that in some ways feels like a missing sequence from the original film. The animation and art is as high quality as any full Ghibli production and the short benefits from a new, cute score from the original film’s composer Joe Hisaishi. The characters seem like they’ve never been away, Mei’s as cute as ever and you do get a genuine thrill to see the Catbus again. Whilst the inevitable return of Totoro (complete with umbrella!) drew a joyful cheer from the throng of Japanese kids that packed the museum’s tiny cinema.
We’re lucky to seen it once but it would you tough to find one if you haven’t due to the copyright issue which this short film was only allowed to broadcast during the exhibition period. Try to google it when you’re free and see if you can able to find one somewhere. Usually they will be taken down very quickly!
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