A Play of Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro








Here is a Ghibli Riff that I hadn’t noticed at first, but now it seems obvious. The scene with the giant radish spirit in the elevator mimics shots and poses from My Neighbor Totoro’s classic scene at the bus stop.

I think one of the things I enjoy about Miyazaki’s movies is how he fills his canvas with so all these little details, and populates his worlds with minor characters who come and go, yet leave an indelible impression upon our imaginations. This radish character is a throwaway, barely on the screen for a moment and then gone forever. And I’m left wanting more. I’d like to see a whole movie about this character. Wouldn’t you? Eh, maybe, maybe not. Whatever.

Every Studio Ghibli movie features at least a handful of riffs that aim back to earlier works. Many have well over a dozen. Spirited Away has shots that wink back to Future Boy Conan, Castle of Cagliostro, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke (the original 1980 storyboard book), among others. If you can find them all, kudos to you. You should make a contest among your Ghibli loving friends. Let’s see just how well you know your Miyazaki.


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