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Mei and the Kittenbus
♫Totoro, Totoro♫

In March of 2007 I was doing research on Mei and the Kittenbus (めいとこねこバス, Mei to Konekobasu), an animated short “sequel” to My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. It was “released” in 2003 for regular showing at the Ghibli Museum in Japan, and has unfortunately never seen a wide release. I believe the Ghibli museum shows different animated shorts on a random basis for their tours.

While researching, I was only able to find three sites on the whole internet at that time that had any real information on it. I decided to backup their contents for mirroring, which I am finally getting around to putting up :-). This information is directly copied from those sites and I do not claim to be the original source of, or in any way own, any of the below content in this post.


моцартинка (mozartianka) wrote in miyazaki_ru,
@ 2007-01-28 21:44:00
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Entry tags:Mei to Konekobasu/Мэй и Котобусёнок, Studio Ghibli Shorts/Короткометражки, Tonari no Totoro/Наш сосед Тоторо, картинки

Mei to Konekobasu Album
Полный альбом про Мей и Котобусёнка!

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Громадное спасибо [info]nazarovsky!

Going back to this Russian Ghibli blog, I noticed he also has a lot more content on it:
http://community.livejournal.com/miyazaki_ru/184770.html
http://community.livejournal.com/miyazaki_ru/tag/Mei to Konekobasu/Мэй и Котобусёнок


From: “nausicaa.net
[Studio Ghibli Museum mainpage]
Mei and the Kittenbus  
 

This is a short film about 20 minutes long, which was shown for a limited time only at the Ghibli Museum. It tells the story of Mei and her friend the kittenbus (the child of the original catbus from My Neighbor Totoro). 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.
[Title Screen]
Small Version Large Version
[Mei and the Kittenbus page 1] [Mei and the Kittenbus page 2]
Small Version | Large Version Small Version | Large Version
[Mei and the Kittenbus page 3] [Mei and the Kittenbus page 4]
Small Version | Large Version Small Version | Large Version
  • Original story, screenplay and direction: Hayao Miyazaki
  • Music: Joe Hisaishi
  • Animation Directors: Maikiko Futaki, Sachiko Sugino, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi
  • Length: 13 minutes 43 seconds

Pictures and synopsis by Chris Kuan



The Ghibli Museum [English] (I did not worry about backing this one up.)

This is definitely one of the things on my must-do list for when I visit Japan one day ^_^.

Studio Ghibli Film List
I definitely recommend most all of Miyazakis’ films

Here is another compilation list from a few years ago for reasons previously stated. This one is a color coded list of Studio Ghibli films (Hayao Miyazaki being a favorite of mine). A more comprehensive list can probably now be found on Wikipedia, but oh well.


Ghibli Films
Japanese TitleYearDirectorScreenplayAlso known as
Gedo senki2006Goro MiyazakiGoro MiyazakiTales from Earthsea
Taneyamagahara no yoru2006Kazuo OgaKenji Miyazawa
Hoshi wo katta hi2006Hayao MiyazakiHayao Miyazaki
Mizugumo monmon2006Hayao MiyazakiHayao Miyazaki
Yadosagashi2006Hayao MiyazakiHayao Miyazaki
Hauru no ugoku shiro2004Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiHowl’s Moving Castle
Inosensu: Kôkaku kidôtai2004Mamoru OshiiMamoru OshiiGhost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Kusoh no kikai-tachi no naka no hakai no hatsumei2002Hideaki AnnoHideaki AnnoThe Invention of Destruction in the Imaginary Machines
Ghiblies: Episode 22002Yoshiyuki MomoseManto Watanobe Ghiblies: Episode 2
Neko no ongaeshi2002Hiroyuki MoritaReiko YoshidaThe Cat Returns
Koro no dai-sanpo2002Hayao MiyazakiHayao Miyazaki
Mei to Koneko basu2002Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiMei and the Kitten Bus
Kujira tori2001Hayao MiyazakiHayao Miyazaki
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi2001Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiSpirited Away
Ghiblies: Episode 12000Ghiblies: Episode 1
Hôhokekyo tonari no Yamada-kun1999Isao TakahataIsao TakahataMy Neighbors the Yamadas
Mononoke-hime1997Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiPrincess Mononoke
Mimi wo sumaseba1995Yoshifumi KondoHayao MiyazakiWhisper of the Heart
On Your Mark1995Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiOn Your Mark
Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko1994Isao TakahataIsao TakahataPom Poko
Umi ga kikoeru1993Tomomichi MochizukiI Can Hear the Sea/The Ocean Waves
Kurenai no buta1992Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiPorco Rosso
Omohide poro poro1991Isao TakahataIsao TakahataMemories of Teardrops / Memories of Yesterday / Only Yesterday
Majo no takkyûbin1989Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiKiki’s Delivery Service
Hotaru no haka1988Isao TakahataIsao TakahataGrave of the Fireflies
Tonari no Totoro1988Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiMy Neighbor Totoro
Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta1986Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiLaputa: The Flying Island
Kaze no tani no Naushika1984Hayao MiyazakiHayao MiyazakiNausicaä
GTO (and other TV series)
When too much of a good thing is a bad thing

I have been a very long time fan of the anime series GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka), though I have only ever owned and seen the first 4 of 10 DVDs.  The series is heavily geared towards adolescent males (shonen) and has its immaturity insecurities, but it’s still a great romantic comedy, with the romantic part paling to the comedy.


So I very recently acquired the rest of the series, and really wish I had just left it off on the forth DVD (19th episode), where the series planning obviously ended. Up to that point, it was very strongly plot driven with character development as the primary outlet.  It then turned into entirely filler content with very loose and unrealistic plot. The series was actually following the manga (comic) plot line through episode 14 when it bypassed it in timeline.  But really, I couldn’t believe how everything past that point was just so much a waste of time.  How people can turn such things of beauty (not necessarily the series visually, but the storyline...) into utter rubbish so quickly always catches me off guard, though I know I should be used to it by now.


Extending series past their originally planned plotline and churning out utter crap is a very common problem among television shows, and especially in anime, as the Japanese have a way of carrying things on for way too long.  Think Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, and Power Rangers, but those are just a few examples of Japanese long standing IPs that actually made it to America.  American’s may have a way for milking things for all they are worth for profit, but the Japanese not only have extra profit as a driving force, but also incredibly obsessive fan bases (Otaku) demanding more content.


Some other examples of this I have to mention off the top of my head are:
  • Nadia - See previous post for more information
  • Kodomo no Omocha (Kodocha), a SUPER girly (Shojo) anime, another of my favorite series, is 100% plot drive excellence.  Up through episode 19, which I believe to be the true ending of Season 1, the multitudes of brilliantly interweaving story arcs are breath taking and moving. From this point, it continued on for another 83 episodes (102 total) of which I have only seen through episode 44. While the general series worthiness seriously degrades at this turning point, it is still a lot of super-hyper-spastic-fun.
  • Full Metal Alchemist, yet another of my favorite series, is an actual example of this problem NOT happening, though it has it happen in a different form.  The series has a strong plot driven and well organized vibe that makes me believe the original 51 episodes were all mostly planned out from the start, but a few inconsistencies between beginning and late episodes makes me not entirely sure. The problem comes in the form of the movie, which I felt to be a complete waste of time to watch. I will expand upon this in the future.
  • The Simpsons, which really should have ended in season 3, which I like to call “Classic Simpsons”, turned into utter retard-like-babbling rubbish somewhere in seasons 7-10. It was initially a very intriguing show, with witty characters (yes, homer was in a manner quite witty) and plot, but unfortunately, the series degraded by pushing the characters stereotypes way too far and making them boring, repetitive, and predictable, repeating the same basic plots and jokes time and time again.
  • And finally, Stargate SG1, which needed to end in Season 7 when the Goa’uld were pretty much defeated, and is still harboring a bastard child known as Stargate Atlantis. While the shows may still have some basic entertainment value, they are still mere husks of their former glory.
Nadia - Secret of the Blue Water
Gainax rules

OK, so I lied last time and am not doing the second half of my medical stuff post like planned, and will save that for later.  I should be posting happy stuff on a supposed-to-be-happy day like today anyways ^_^;.  Most of you out there who have heard of Gainax know of it due to Neon Genesis Evangelion (better known, and hereby referred to, as Eva), their “ground breaking” series released in ‘95-‘96.  I’d have to say this was, and may still be, the most well known good anime series, meaning not including such tripe as Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Digimon, Sailor Moon (which isn’t THAT bad actually...), etc.  It always gave me a bad tremble whenever I mentioned anime to general people and they replied with “oh, you mean (like) Sailor Moon?” But anyways... I should let you know beforehand, most of this post is a history of anime and some interesting info on the anime Nadia.

The TV series Gainax did immediately before Eva, Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water, released in ‘89-‘91, is one of, if not my favorite anime series.  You can definitely see the influence it had on Eva too.  Before I talk about Nadia though, a little history about Gainax first.  If anyone is really interested, check out their OVA (Original Video Animation) “Otaku no Video” release in ’91, which is KIND OF an autobiographical parody.  I just picked up a copy for myself with some of the Chanukah/Xmas I received this year ^_^.  Basically, Gainax is made up of a bunch of otaku.  So these anime otaku in the mid ‘80s were of the mindset of “man, we can do better than all the shit that’s coming out”, so they started their own “amateur” company of fervent obsessed fans, and revolutionized the industry with their brilliance.  A good chunk of what they do is worth a watch, though I am not quite a fan of all their stuff, it all has its own fun nuances and radiance to it that can only be found by people that truly love what they are doing.

So, back to Nadia.  I’d rather not really go into the story because I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone that may choose to watch it, but it is heavily based around Jules Verne’s works, most specifically around Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the exploits of Captain Nemo, though with the usual crazy Japanese anime twist.  It takes place in 1889-1890 and has a very steam punk feel to it.  Disney’s 2001 Atlantis: The Lost Empire is actually quite a blatant rip of Nadia too, and not even an iota as worth it, IMO.  I have also heard The Lion King was a pretty blatant rip of Kimba the White Lion, an anime from the mid 1960s.  I cannot personally confirm this however, and can’t complain much as The Lion King is one of my two favorite Disney movies, along with Aladdin.  But um... back to the topic on hand... darn tangents!!  Nadia weaves many different genres very excellently into its story including science fiction, adventure, mystery, comedy, and a hint of romance, but maintains its silly mood throughout, even when dealing with clichéd “difficult” topics like killing, death, and general genocide :-).  The main characters are Nadia and Jean, an engineering genius Frenchman, who are excellent foils for each other.  One example is how Nadia is one of those “dear god how can you possibly even think about eating a dead animal” vegetarians, which Jean just can’t comprehend “what are you talking about, it’s meat”.  And then you bring in the well-mannered 4 year old Marie who is always complaining about how immature/ill mannered the adults are... it’s just a very fun series with a lot of memorable and lovable characters.

So after finishing the ~40 episodes over a week, I went and checked the Wikipedia article on it and found some very fascinating facts, namely tying in Miyazaki with the series, which was a shocker too me.  Hayao Miyazaki is by far my most respected (anime?) director, I believe.  Most people would know of his works under the anime studio Studio Ghibli, though he doesn’t only do stuff for them, and they have other directors too, but Ghibli and Miyazaki are generally pretty synonymous.  I have multiple other topics written down on Miyazaki that I will talk about later, and will post a good list of Miyazaki/Ghibli titles I made a while ago as soon as I can find it.  Anyways, some of the more interesting trivia notes I stole from Wikipedia are as follows:

  • This show’s origins date back to the mid-1970s when Hayao Miyazaki was hired by Japanese movie giant Toho to develop ideas for television series. One of these concepts was "Around the World Under the Sea", (adapted from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), in which two orphan children pursued by villains team up with Captain Nemo and the Nautilus. It was never produced, but Toho retained the rights for the story outline. This explains why Anime fans often liken Nadia to a Miyazaki production; the animator reused elements from his original concept in later projects of his, notably the Sci-Fi series Future Boy Conan and his action-adventure film Castle in the Sky.
  • Approximately ten years later, Gainax was appointed by Toho in 1989 to produce a TV series which would be broadcast on the Japanese educational network NHK. Miyazaki’s outline for "Around the World Under the Sea" was the one which captivated Gainax the most. Under the direction of Hideaki Anno, the animation studio took the central story and setup Miyazaki had developed and touched it up with their own creativity. (incidentally, Anno had previously worked for Miyazaki as an animator on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.)
  • Nadia showed up on the Japanese Animage polls as favorite Anime heroine, dethroning the then top champion, Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa.
  • Nadia was originally intended to have an estimated 30 episodes. Since the show was so popular in Japan, however, NHK requested Gainax to produce more episodes, extending the episode count to 39. These episodes, dubbed as the "infamous island episodes" (which begin on Episode 23 and conclude on Episode 34), took hits for poor animation (since, as mentioned, other animation studios in Japan and Korea produced these episodes), ill-conceived plotting, and character stupidities; consequently, they drove many fans away. Only by Episodes 35-39 does the show return to its initial roots wherein lies its appeal. The setting of these episodes was suggested by Jules Verne’s other novel featuring Captain Nemo, Mysterious Island.
  • According to the notes found in the DVD sleeve of the Italian edition, the true reason behind the difference between the "infamous island episodes" and the rest of the series, would be that production was late on schedule. Starting with episode 11, Anno was working up to 18 hours a day on the series, and yet he was unable to cope with the screenplay, which was then handed to the storyboard team. After episode 20 (aired September 21, 1990), NHK put Nadia on hold to make space for news coverage on the Gulf War: the series returned about a month later with episode 21 (aired on October 26th). Nonetheless production was still late, and Anno asked friend and Gainax co-founder Shinji Higuchi to take over the direction of the series, while he was going to focus on the ending. According to the same source, Anno would have stated that episodes 30 and 31 were the only he would have saved among the Island Chapter ones, while episode 34 was entirely scrapped and replaced by edited sequences of previous episodes.
  • At the start of each episode, a Japanese inscription appears on screen (written in the Latin alphabet) and is read by a man’s voice challenging the viewer to follow him for an adventure. "Are you adventurers? Do you seek the truth behind the mythical being that lies beneath the blue waterfalls named The Perilous. If you are, then you must first find me." This derives from the perplexing challenge of Arne Saknussemm in Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.
  • The series contains numerous nods to other Japanese television series, as is to be expected in a series by Gainax, which is famously comprised of "otaku" (fervent anime fans). Ostensibly, the Grandis Gang are modeled after the villains from Tatsunoko’s Time Bokan series, and M78, the home system of the Atlanteans, is also the home of Tsuburaya’s Ultraman.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, authors Michael Okuda and Rick Sternbach state that the superconducting crystals used in Starfleet phasers are called fushigi no umi. Sternbach is a noted fan of anime.

One of the most important notes here is the forth and fifth bullets talking about the “infamous island episodes”.  While they are still in the general Nadia style, and are fun, they have their downsides.  I would personally even recommend skipping at least one and a half of these episodes, due to them being so worthless. They are:

  • A large chunk of #26 “King’s on his Own” - After Jean gets knocked out after a terribly silly Wile E. Coyote falling gag homage and he dreams of inventing 21st century technologies.
  • Most, if not all, of #34 “Love to Nadia”, which is a “singing recap” episode.  What I remember of the songs are especially atrocious.

On that note, the movie really isn’t worth watching at all either.  Especially the first 1/3 (30 minutes) of the movie, as it is nothing but a recap of the series.

Oh, also, the original title was translated as “Nadia of the Mysterious Seas”.