The Simpsons' Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki, Annotated.

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 9 2014 4:22 PM

The Simpsons Pays Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki

Update, Jan. 9, 2014: We've put together a video annotating all the references:

Master animator and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has said goodbye to the film world with what he’s announced is his last animated feature, The Wind Rises. Now, The Simpsons has decided to say goodbye as well.

Advertisement

In a sequence from this week’s episode, the show pays tribute to the anime master with a scene bringing together some of his most famous films. There’s Catbus (embodied here by Otto, of course) from My Neighbor Totoro, the scarecrow Turnip-Head (Moe) and the castle (the Kwik-E-Mart) from Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki the witch from Kiki’s Delivery Service (doubled, by Patty and Selma), and, if you look closely, the tree spirits from Princess Mononoke (Martin Prince and his fellow nerds, hiding in a bonsai).

Above all, though, there’s Spirited Away: the frog workers (Smithers), the dragon Haku (Jimbo Jones and his cronies), the giant baby (played by Maggie’s unibrowed nemesis, Gerald Samson), and a few characters who aren’t changed at all—most notably, the lonesome spirit No-Face.

It’s irreverent, of course—The Simpsons wouldn’t have it any other way—but also uncharacteristically wistful: Maybe Miyazaki’s movies are something even The Simpsons can get a little reverent about.

*Or all except the Seymour-Skinner-as-box-kite one. If you can ID that one, let us know.

Update 2, Jan. 10, 2014: No less than David Silverman, director of The Simpsons Movie and dozens of classic Simpsons episodes, has chimed in to explain the box kite: "No specific reference," he told us on Twitter, "just added whimsy." D'oh.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

Chris Wade is a video and podcast producer for Slate and occasional contributor to Brow Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How Moscow’s Anti-War March Revealed One of Russia’s Deepest Divides

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 22 2014 3:33 PM Killing With Kindness My in-laws want to throw me a get-well-from-cancer bash. There’s no way I can go.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Two Impacts, One Landslide … on Mercury
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.