The Simpsons homage to legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki that delighted the internet a month or two ago was apparently ten years in the making:
The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean said his team had been trying to work in an homage to Miyazaki on their show for at least a decade, but the eventual episode — in which Comic Book Guy marries a woman from Japan — was well underway before the filmmaker announced his retirement.
In the episode, Homer gets drunk with the Japanese woman’s father for no apparent reason, they have an anime dream because Japan, and the father realizes he should let his daughter be with Comic Book Guy because he sees his face on No-Face from Spirited Away. The whole sequence is rather disjointed from the rest of the episode, and the awkward attempt to justify its inclusion by making it the story’s climax makes for a weird, lazy plot progression (problem → get drunk → problem solved). If the episode was created just so the writers could finally put in a Miyazaki tribute they’d been wanting to put in for over a decade, you’d think they could’ve worked it in better.
Oh, and Miyazaki hasn’t even seen it.