Jul 1, 2014
First of all, keep in mind that this was made exclusively for the Ghibli museum in Japan. It has never been officially released outside of the museum, and the film itself has never been solidly leaked online either. Your only way to watch it is to either go to the museum or watch one of the few camrip versions. The camrips are not pretty, but it's not like they will prevent you from getting any enjoyment out of it. With that said, it's time to review the film itself.
This is a short film that takes place after the events of My Neighbor Totoro. The younger
sister, Mei, meets the child of the Catbus, and they do a little bit of exploring. It's cute, just like My Neighbor Totoro was. However, it is still only a 15 minute short. The "story" is more of a series of short interactions between Mei and various magical creatures. It should go without saying, but there was no conflict whatsoever.
Artwork is well done, in the same style as My Neighbor Totoro. At multiple points during this short film, they managed to include the signature Ghibli imagery of a young girl innocently interacting with something that most people would find to be off-putting. Gives you the idea that she's so innocent that she doesn't know that she's supposed to be bothered by it. I wont give you an example, since it would count as a spoiler, but you'll know what I mean if you watch it.
Sound is greatly lacking. The background music was just some edited version of the intro song from My Neighbor Totoro(which was used as background music throughout Totoro as well) and I found it to be fairly boring, since it was pretty much just repeating over and over over the course of the short film. Also, and this is my opinion which may anger other Ghibli fanatics, Mei's voice acting is poor. It puts me on edge because it is far too loud and abrasive. I know it is meant to mimic the energy of a spunky young girl, but its just too loud for comfort. Again, that is my opinion, and you'll have to watch it yourself to make any final judgment on the topic.
Characters are fine. Mei, Totoro, and Catbus were already established in My Neighbor Totoro, and you get about as much character depth out of Kittenbus as you could hope to get out of a magical cat that lets people ride around in its body.
Enjoyment: I thought it was cute. Its main goal was to drive home the feeling of childish innocence and playfulness, and it succeeded. I enjoyed it as an extra bonus to Totoro.
Overall, I think it's a nice extra. Could it have made a good stand-alone film? Absolutely not. You would be bored and potentially confused if you watched this before watching My Neighbor Totoro. Just watch it if you wanna feel nostalgic about Totoro.
PS: You can torrent the camrip off of Bakabt. The one on Bakabt has fantastic audio and it is subbed. I have no idea whether My Anime List gets angry if you talk about torrents in your reviews, but oh well.
Reviewer’s Rating: 7
What did you think of this review?