A gorgeous sequence from this week’s episode pays tribute to the brilliant Hayao Miyazaki with Springfieldians portraying some of the most famous characters from his films. There’s Otto as Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro; Moe as the scarecrow Turnip-Head and the Kwik-E-Mart as the castle from Howl’s Moving Castle; Patty and Selma as Kiki the witch from Kiki’s Delivery Service; the tree spirits from Princess Mononoke (Martin Prince and other nerds); and the frog workers (Smithers), the dragon Haku (Jimbo Jones and his pals), and the giant baby (played by Maggie’s unibrowed nemesis, Gerald Samson) from Spirited Away, as well as a few characters who aren’t changed at all — most notably, the lonesome spirit No-Face. Omg, I looooove No-Face.
From Slate: “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.” The episode was meant as a sweet goodbye to the director, whose last film was supposed to be The Wind Rises. But, of course, Miyazaki has since come out of retirement, making it not quite moot, but close.