‘The Simpsons’ pays tribute to Hayao Miyazaki in Sunday’s episode

Jan. 10, 2014 | 10:05 p.m.

Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” features a whimsical sequence that pays tribute to Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary animation director and animator and cofounder of animation Studio Ghibli.

A clip from Sunday’s episode (watch it above) includes references to many of Studio Ghibli films: Otto Mann, the show’s school bus driver, is transformed into the Catbus from “My Neighbor Totoro”; Springfield’s police Chief Clancy Wiggum appears as a pig, like the hero of “Porco Rosso”; Marge’s sisters Patty and Selma Bouvier ride brooms like the young witch in “Kiki’s Delivery Service”; Mo resembles the scarecrow Turnip-Head from “Howl’s Moving Castle”; and the Kwik-E-Mart becomes the castle itself. The episode also includes references to “Spirited Away” and other Miyazaki films.

PHOTOS: Hayao Miyazaki, an animated icon

The episode, titled “Married to the Blob,” focuses on Comic Book Guy, the owner of Springfield’s comic book shop the Android’s Dungeon. Comic Book Guy meets Kumiko, a Japanese woman writing an autobiographical manga, and seeks some dating advice from Homer. Watch the episode’s opening couch gag sequence in the video below.

Stan Lee is also set to cameo in the episode, as is science fiction author Harlan Ellison. (Watch a featurette on their cameos here.)

The Miyazaki tribute follows last year’s homage to horror couch gag, directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Did you spot a Ghibli reference we missed? Let us know in the comments.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

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