Picking your favorite Studio Ghibli movie is like trying to eat a single potato chip: You can't stop at just one. Even so, for nostalgic anime lovers, the 1988 Ghibli movie My Neighbor Totoro ranks as one of the Hayao Miyazaki's best efforts, and it's not hard to see why.
The beautifully animated film flaunts an adventurous, childlike attitude, and showcases a range of extraordinarily imaginative creatures. No matter who the viewer is, everyone can identify with the protagonists' desire to find a magical world hidden in their neighborhood.
While the film is unarguably beloved, far fewer fans know about the sequel to My Neighbor Totoro. Titled Mei and the Kittenbus, the film is actually surprisingly hard to come by; anyone who wants to see it will have to start looking for a plane ticket to Japan.
Mei and the Kittenbus is a 13-minute short film directed by Hayao Miyazaki that serves as a sequel to My Neighbor Totoro. The story takes place two months after Mei Kusakabe's mother returns from the hospital (where she resides for the majority of Totoro). Early in the short, the young girl captures a magical whirlwind that turns out to be a baby version of the Catbus from the previous film. Thanks to her stash of delicious caramel candies, Mei befriends this Kittenbus, and embarks on a brief yet magical journey. Before the credits roll, Mei meets up with the Kittenbus's feline family, and encounters her old friend Totoro.
As of now, the only way to watch Mei and the Kittenbus is to take a trip to Mitaka, Japan to visit the Ghibli Museum. The anime short is occasionally played at the museum's Saturn Theater. The film never leaves the walls of the building, and purchasing a ticket for entry is no easy task. The museum is so popular that it regularly draws in locals and international tourists, so it's not uncommon for tickets to sell out. If you're planning on making a pilgrimage, make sure you buy your museum tickets at least three months in advance!
Thanks to the real-life magic of social media, images of the unseen Totoro sequel spread like wildfire in 2017. Various tweets displaying stills from Mei and the Kittenbus were shared online, and some posts received over 120,000 retweets and nearly 300,000 likes. A Twitter user named Toaru took a poll to see if other users knew about the existence of Mei and the Kittenbus, and 91% of people answered "no".
Unfortunately, the chances of Mei and the Kittenbus coming to DVD are slim to none. There are currently no plans to make the short anime film available for purchase in North America or Japan. For now, the film will screen exclusively at the Ghibli Museum in Japan.