Yubaba, the antagonist enchantress from director Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning feature film Spirited Away, might seem like an odd person to be looking out for our well-being. Throughout the movie she’s repeatedly shown to be greedy, oppressive, and unkind.
Let us not forget, however, that in addition to being a witch Yubaba is also a bathhouse proprietor, and thus knows the importance of a clean and sanitary environment. So maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised that in her newest depiction, Yubaba is modeling good public safety and hygiene by wearing a mask.
This picture of Yubaba is being used to promote the unusually named Not-Big Ghibli Exhibition (Ghibli no Dai Janai Hakurankai in Japanese). The event was quickly organized in response to the many art exhibitions which have been cancelled or postponed at Japanese museums this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, and while Ghibli isn’t able to arrange a grand-scale expo on such short notice, it still wants to give museum-goers something to enjoy during the summer vacation period.
The exhibition, to be held at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art in Nagoya, will primarily focus on displaying design materials for the Ghibli Park amusement park currently in development ahead of a 2022 opening in Aichi, which will allow visitors to walk through recreated settings from anime including My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Also part of the event will be materials for the Goro Miyazaki-directed Aya and the Witch, Ghilbi’s first all-CG production, and the real-life Catbus, which is making its way to the event from the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.
The Not-Big Ghibli Exhibition opens later this month, but it’s not just the short lead-up time that’s keeping the event modestly sized. As mentioned at the top of the promotional image above, pieces will be displayed two meters (6.6 feet) from each other, in order to allow for proper social distancing between attendees. “Keep apart while looking at the exhibits,” Yubaba sternly commands. Guests will also have their temperature taken before entering the museum, with those showing fevers denied admission. Guests who are allowed inside required to wear masks at all times, are asked to make regular use of the hand sanitizer stations inside the facility, and also to register their name and contact address should they need to be reached for public health reasons at a later time.
The Not-Big Ghibli Exhibition starts July 22 and runs until September 3. Ticket must be pre-purchased online and are available here, with adult admission costing 1,400 yen (US$13) on weekdays and 1,500 on weekends.