Star Wars and 2D animation fans have a big treat waiting for them this weekend: Disney+ is unveiling a new animated short titled Zen — Grogu and Dust Bunnies, which is an exciting collaboration by Studio Ghibli and LucasFilm. Timed to celebrate the third anniversary of The Mandalorian and the streaming service, the short premieres this Saturday (Nov. 12) exclusively on Disney+.
The hand-drawn, animated short is directed by Katsuya Kondo with music by Ludwig Göransson. Kondo is an an acclaimed manga artist, character designer, animator and animation director who is best known for his character design work on Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ocean Waves as well as the PlayStation game Jade Cocoon. His Ghibli credits include Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Only Yesterday, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty, From Up on Poppy Hill and Ronja the Robber’s Daughter. On Ponyo, he was character designer, animation director and animation supervisor, and he also wrote the lyrics for the movie’s theme song.
The new short’s coal dust bunnies were first introduced in Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning 2001 feature Spirited Away. Studio Ghibli initiallly broke the news via a series of tweets about the collaboration, first of a video of the Lucasfilm and Ghibli logos, then with a photo of a Grogu figurine with Miyazaki sitting in the background.
In 2020, Lucasfilm partnered with animation studios in Japan to create nine short films for the acclaimed Star Wars: Visions anthology series for Disney+ which premiered in September 2021, and Season 2 is expected to debut next spring.
Miyazaki is currently working on this 12th animated feature How Do You Live?, based on a 1937 Japanese novel by Yoshino Genzaburo. According to studio president Koji Hoshino, the movie is nearing completion, although no release date has been officially announced.