Earlier in the week, and after double checking that it was the official account, everyone’s eyebrows raised when they saw Studio Ghibli use its Twitter to tease a collaboration with Lucasfilm. Followed by a single cryptic tease, speculation ran wild: did Disney convince Hayao Miyazaki to do a short for Star Wars Visions? Was this a film to add to the studio’s portfolio? At the end of it all, the answer turned out to be...a cute little ol’ short film.
That short, Zen - Grogu & the Dust Bunnies, released on Disney+ this morning in celebration of the streaming service’s three-year anniversary. Everything you need to know about it is right there in the title: the breakout star of Star Wars’ flagship series The Mandalorian is lightly menaced by some dust bunnies before eventually making nice with them. There’s no tease for the series’ upcoming third season, no mighty showcase of Grogu’s Force powers or anything of that sort. It’s truly a little guy hanging out with some other little guys.
While some will surely be disappointed hearing that, Grogu is still worth watching. Longtime Ghibli director and animator Katsuya Kondō (whose resume includes Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke) brings the character’s childlike innocence across incredibly well. The little green guy feels like a great fit for animation, and Kondō succeeds in making him even cuter with a hand-drawn animation style. Backed by a trancelike score from Ludwig Göransson, which feels like it’s pulling on the theme for Nickelodeon’s Rugrats, it feels like something that would be made by a child that’s a fan of Grogu.
It’s possible (very likely, even) that Ghibli has been brought on by Lucasfilm to do something Star Wars-related more substantial in the future and this is just a test run. Until then, Grogu & the Dust Bunnies is harmless fun and worth the Saturday watch.
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