''Long before his Spirited Away won the best animated feature Oscar in 2003, the works of master animator Hayao Miyazaki already had a legion of followers in Hong Kong. Admittedly, some local fans will be puzzled by the mention of Miyazaki’s masterpiece, My Neighbour Totoro – but that’s because they know the 1988 film’s magical eponymous character as “Lung Mao” (which literally translates from Cantonese as “dragon cat”).
For many devotees of Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli colleagues, a trip to Japan just isn’t complete without picking up a few items emblazoned with the figure of Totoro or other Ghibli favourites such as Jiji (the cat in Kiki’s Delivery Service) or Ponyo (of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) from one of the Donguri Republic stores which stock the studio’s wares.
But from June 21, Hongkongers won’t have to go all the way to Miyazaki’s homeland to get their hands on a piece of Ghibli merchandise.
The first Donguri Republic store outside of Japan will occupy 1,400 sq ft of the LCX mall in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui where shoppers will be greeted by a large Totoro at the entrance (pictured). The space is designed to bring to mind the forest tunnel from My Neighbour Totoro and will house the full range of DVDs and Blu-ray discs as well as toys, books and other products.
I have a friend who is always eager to add to his collection of Jiji cats. If the Hong Kong branch of Donguri Republic has anything like the range of Ghiblithemed collectibles as those in Japan, I can see him becoming overwhelmed by the choices in store.''