Featured Articles

Riding in Style: The Cat Bus in My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) is a childhood classic for most anime fans, featuring mysterious creatures adapted from Japanese folklore. The Cat Bus is one such creature, whose sunny demeanor and friendly antics make him a family favorite that is certainly worth learning more about!

by mkane
Nov 26, 2015 6:24 PM | 3,666 views

Meet the Cat Bus


My Neighbor Totoro, Cat bus 1

The Cat Bus from Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro is a friendly creature whose main role is to help transport the forest's numerous "inhabitants" to their destinations of choice. He possesses many caterpillar-like legs that allow him to move at incredible speeds and is invisible to the normal human eye. As he travels, he causes entire fields of rice to sway in his wake, as though blown by a powerful gust of wind. His yellow eyes glow like headlights, and there are small mice with glowing red eyes that float next to the destination sign and his rear-like tail lights. The Cat Bus almost always has a wide grin spread across his face, which often causes viewers to draw a comparison between it and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, though Miyazaki himself supports no such relation between the characters.


My Neighbor Totoro, Cat bus and Kusakabe Sisters In the story itself, the Cat Bus plays an incredibly supportive role. Though he is normally summoned by Totoro in order to help transport the forest guardian to his destinations, he also assists Satsuki and Mei in their own travels. For instance, when Satsuki's little sister, Mei, goes missing, Totoro summons the Cat Bus who takes them directly to the young girl. The friendly creature then takes the girls to visit their mother in the hospital and perches with them in a tree overlooking their family. Despite his somewhat frightening appearance, the Cat Bus really is helpful and friendly!



Origins of the Cat Bus


My Neighbor Totoro, Cat bus 2 Despite Miyazaki's denial of any relation between his work and Japanese religion, the Cat Bus nevertheless bears a close resemblance to the Bakeneko, a cat yokai, or demon, in Japanese Shinto folklore. Cats were often associated with yokai in feudal Japan, not just because of their mysterious behavior, but also because of their relationship with both the wild and the domestic. Anyone who has ever owned a cat can tell you that, though they may be sweet and playful at times, cats also have incredibly violent mood swings. This idea of a mix of the civilized and the wild comes through wonderfully in the portrayal of the Cat Bus. Although he is a creature usually unseen by humans and separated form normal society, his form is still that of an urban commuter bus, complete with a destination sign and designated bus stops.



I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the Cat Bus and his role in My Neighbor Totoro as well as his origins in Japanese folklore. The Cat Bus is certainly a delightful part of the film; from his contagious grin to his efficient speeds, he is everything a daily commuter could ask for!

My Neighbor Totoro, Cat bus 3

Related Articles

Meet Jiji, the Black Cat from Kiki's Delivery Service

Meet Jiji, the Black Cat from Kiki's Delivery Service

While Kiki may be the main star of Majo no Takkyuubin (Kiki's Delivery Service), her black cat Jiji also plays an important part in the story. Learn more about how Jiji interacts with Kiki and the role that he plays in the film!
Wolf, Deer and Other Animal Characters of Princess Mononoke

Wolf, Deer and Other Animal Characters of Princess Mononoke

Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) is not just a fairy tale of good and evil. It is an emotional story about how animals try to fight against the destructive progress of humankind. Scroll down to learn more about their hopes and fears!
Howl's Moving Castle's Heen: the Dog that Tries

Howl's Moving Castle's Heen: the Dog that Tries

The former errand dog of Madame Suliman has a heart as big as Howl's Castle. The dog Heen turns in his old mistress for a new, much kinder one. Heen is old, overweight, short, and asthmatic, but he gets an "A" for effort. Heen cares.
The Zodiac Twelve: The guide of Hunter X Hunter

The Zodiac Twelve: The guide of Hunter X Hunter

The Zodiac Twelve are some of the most recognizable and formidable hunters around. Each member is undoubtedly powerful both in terms of skill and influence. Learn more about Hunter X Hunter's Zodiac Twelve here!
The Adorable Soot Sprites of Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro

The Adorable Soot Sprites of Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro

Although they had nothing more than minor roles, the soot sprites from Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) and Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbour Totoro) captured the hearts of anime fans everywhere. Let's look at what made them so lovable.

Related Database Entries

Anime: Tonari no Totoro
Characters: Satsuki KusakabeMei KusakabeTotoroNekobasu

All Tags Trending Tags