Fans of Studio Ghibli anime and the outstanding Star Wars universe built by Lucasfilm were in for a surprise when the two major production houses announced that they are teaming up for a short film featuring everyone’s beloved character Grogu, aka Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian (2019– ).
Shortly after the announcement, the film, titled Zen – Grogu and Dust Bunnies, was dropped on 12 November 2022 on Disney+.
What is Zen – Grogu and Dust Bunnies about?
The hand-drawn original anime short film has been directed by Katsuya Kondō, who has been involved with many of Studio Ghibli’s acclaimed anime films including My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Only Yesterday (1991), Princess Mononoke (1997), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) and From Up on Poppy Hill (2011).
The three-minute short film shows Grogu adorably trying to gain control over the Force while curious soot sprites bother him. Studio Ghibli fans can instantly recognise the magical soot sprites from films such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away (2001).
Grogu tries to escape the gaggle of the soot sprites, but they give chase. He stumbles and is briefly surrounded by the magical beings. The soot sprites then stack on top of each other and present Grogu with a beautiful flower.
The short film’s music is by Ludwig Göransson.
Are there more Studio Ghibli and Lucasfilm works in the pipeline?
Studio Ghibli first teased the anime collaboration with Lucasfilm on 10 November with a video teaser showing the logo of Lucasfilm followed by the logo of Studio Ghibli, which famously features the illustrated drawing of the character Totoro on a blue background.
The video teaser had no other text and was not accompanied with music.
There is no clarity on whether Studio Ghibli and Lucasfilm plan to produce more content as part of their collaboration or add more shorts to the anime Grogu.
However, fans of Studio Ghibli can watch the stage version of My Neighbour Totoro. Shows started at Barbican Theatre in London on 8 October 2022 and will run through 21 Jan 2023.
Has Lucasfilm collaborated with Japanese anime filmmakers before?
Lucasfilm has previously produced Star Wars: Visions, an animated anthology featuring several short stories set in the Star Wars universe.
The stories were created by seven prominent Japanese animated studios including Trigger, Kinema Citrus and Geno Studio.
Several TV shows set in the galactic world conceived by George Lucas are also animation works. These include the acclaimed Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008–2020), Star Wars Rebels (2014–2018) and Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021–).
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi (2022) was the most recent animated work from Lucasfilm before their short film collaboration with Studio Ghibli. The anthology miniseries focuses on the backstories of two main Star Wars characters — Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano.
(Main image: Star Wars/@starwars/Twitter; Featured image: スタジオジブリ STUDIO GHIBLI/@JP_GHIBLI/Twitter)