‘Star Wars’ and Studio Ghibli Have Made a Baby Yoda Animated Short

Lucasfilm and Studio Ghibli have joined forces for the animated short film “Zen – Grogu and Dust Bunnies,” marking one of the most auspicious — and adorable — creative partnerships for either entity.

The hand-drawn short film, which debuted on Nov. 12 on Disney+, brings together the adorable alien child Grogu from “The Mandalorian” and the anthropomorphized coal dust bunnies from Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning masterpiece “Spirited Away.”

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The short is the directorial debut of Katsuya Kondo, a veteran Studio Ghibli animator who has served as the animation director on Miyazaki’s features “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “Ponyo.” The simple, three-minute film begins with Grogu in a state of meditation, until a pack of dust bunnies see and gently pursue him. The short also features music from “The Mandalorian” composer Ludwig Göransson.

Studio Ghibli sent fans into a tizzy with a series of tweets teasing the collaboration, first of a video of the Lucasfilm and Ghibli logos, then of a photo of a Grogu figurine with Miyazaki sitting out of focus in the background.

Disney finally confirmed the collaboration in a tweet on Friday evening.

This isn’t the first time Lucasfilm has partnered with an anime studio. Starting in 2020, Lucasfilm recruited animation studios in Japan to create nine short films for its “Star Wars: Visions” anthology series for Disney+, which allowed each studio to craft any narrative it wanted within the “Star Wars” universe. Season 1 premiered in September 2021, and Season 2 — which branches out beyond Japan to studios in Africa, Europe and India — is expected to debut next spring.

The news of Ghibli’s partnership with Lucasfilm comes the same month the company opened a theme park in central Japan dedicated to the works of Miyazaki, the studio’s co-founder and most acclaimed filmmaker. Unlike most parks, visitors can explore locations designed to evoke Miyazaki’s animated features, like the Catbus from 1988’s “My Neighbor Totoro.” Tickets are by reservation only and currently only available for domestic visitors.

After retiring in 2013 with “The Wind Rises,” Miyazaki returned to Ghibli for his 12th animated feature, “How Do You Live?”, inspired by a 1937 Japanese novel by Yoshino Genzaburo. The studio has not announced when the film will be released, but its president, Koji Hoshino, reportedly announced during an October 2022 press conference for the Ghibli Park that “How Do You Live?” was “nearing completion.”

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