Nickelodeon Mashes Up Ghibli and Nicktoons in Miyazaki Birthday Tribute

Jan. 5 is Hayao Miyazaki's 81st birthday, and Nickelodeon gifted the influential Studio Ghibli creator a new piece of art to celebrate the occasion.

The illustration was created by artist Troy Mullin and posted to Nickelodeon's official Twitter account. The piece mashes up Studio Ghibli's most iconic characters with the stars of the cable company's Nicktoons; Avatar: The Last Airbender's Aang and his flying Bison Appa are reimagined as My Neighbor Totoro characters, while CatDog plays the role of that movie's famous Catbus. Surprisingly, Garfield is not reimagined into some sort of nightmare-inducing combination, as that position was instead taken by Rugrats' Tommy Pickles, who was fused with Boh, the temperamental son of the witch Yubaba from Miyazaki's Academy Award-winning Spirited Away. The tweet challenges fans of both studios' work to find and name all the references contained within the piece.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most celebrated anime creators of all time, having directed countless critically acclaimed animated movies, including Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso. In addition to being a favorite among critics, many of Miyazaki's works have also been massive commercial successes, with three of his movies are listed among Japan's top ten highest grossing movies of all time: 1997's Princess Monoke, 2004's Howl's Moving Castle, and 2001's Spirited Away, which held the title for the highest grossing anime film of all time until it was dethroned by 2020's Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba - The Movie: Mugen Train. The outspoken director originally announced his retirement after the release of 2013's The Wind Rises, but has since returned to direct the upcoming How Do You Live, an animated adaptation of one of his favorite books. The new movie has been in production since 2016 and currently has no release date.

Miyazaki was also recently honored by Los Angeles' Academy Museum in 2021 with an exhibit that celebrated the animator's long career. The exhibit featured more than 200 concept sketches, storyboards, animation cels, and other production materials from Miyazaki's career that were previously never seen outside of Studio Ghibli. The Museum also screened all of the director's films throughout the fall.

Nickelodeon's Nicktoons line premiered in the early 1990s with a trio of shows: Ren and Stimpy, Doug, and Rugrats. The line has since grown to encompass dozens of classic animated series, including Rocko's Modern Life, Hey! Arnold and The Wild Thornberries. The Nicktoons brand has continued into the modern day with new series such as The Casagrandes and the Spongebob Squarepants spinoff The Patrick Star Show, and has even expanded to include several properties that were originally created outside of Nickelodeon, including the 2017 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot and the new Star Trek: Prodigy animated series.

Source: Twitter

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