Studio Ponoc, the new animation studio founded by two-time Academy Award®-nominee Yoshiaki Nishimura (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There) and featuring many artists from the venerable Studio Ghibli, made an immediate splash last year with its acclaimed debut film Mary and The Witch’s Flower. The studio returns this year with Modest Heroes: Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1, an ambitious anthology of three thrilling tales created by some of the greatest talents working in Japanese animation today.
In Kanini & Kanino, directed by Academy Award®-nominee Hiromasa Yonebayashi(The Secret World of Arrietty, When Marnie Was There, Mary and The Witch’s Flower), two crab brothers embark on a grand underwater adventure to find their father, after an accident carries him far downstream. Depicted as tiny beings in a large and merciless natural world, the brothers must evade a freshwater predator if they are ever to reunite with their family again.
In Life Ain’t Gonna Lose, acclaimed animator Yoshiyuki Momose (key animator on Isao Takahata’s films at Studio Ghibli, and animation director of the video game Ni No Kuni) makes his directorial debut with a very different kind of story. Shun is an 8-year-old boy living in Tokyo with a life-threatening allergy to eggs. While his mother (Maggie Q) works hard to protect him and lead an ordinary life, Shun has an unexpected encounter with an egg product, and he must begin a race against time to save himself.
Lastly, in Invisible (the directing debut of Akihiko Yamashita, a talented key animator on many of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s best-known films) a man struggles with invisibility. As he finds his life beginning to quite literally float away, a momentous decision gives him the chance to reclaim his humanity.
Together, the stories explore ideas of heroism in everyday life, and the infinite potential of the short film format allows the directors and Studio Ponoc to experiment with breathtaking, action-packed visuals, concise human drama, and gorgeous fantasy worlds in this unforgettable short film showcase that is further demonstration of the studio’s exciting future.