Before the production of Princess Mononoke, a project titled Boro, the Caterpillar was considered for a feature release. The producer, Toshio Suzuki, noted that Miyazaki “is getting old” and a chance of doing an action film in the future would be none. So Suzuki pursued Miyazaki to initiate the Princess Mononoke project. A few years later, a story of a small creature living in a vast world still lingered in Miyazaki’s imagination. Thus, he written and directed a fifteen-minute short titled Mizugumo Monmon (Water Spider Monmon); a diving bell spider who fell in love with a water strider.
I picked up this amazing book at the Ghibli Museum. I had never seen or heard of it before, but it is Miyazaki’s original art and story concept for a proto-Totoro/Princess Mononoke hybrid, before he split those concepts into their own stories. As you can imagine, it is amazing. I can’t read Japanese, but I *think* the title is “Mononoke Hime.” Here is the ISBN number in case you want to try to track it down: ISBN4-19-860040-6
EDIT: I wrote “amazing” twice, but really, it is amazing. There, three times now.