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Studio Ponoc’s Next Film is an Anime Fantasy Anthology

Animation is a slow and methodical process, especially for feature films, and especially especially in the world of Japanese anime. It generally takes years and years to get a movie off the ground, which is why Studio Ponoc is making waves with news of their second feature film in as many years. The studio founded by former employees of Studio Ghibli released Mary and The Witch’s Flower (which is a whole lot of fun) last year and now already has a second film slated for release in Japan this summer: the mouthful title Little Heroes – Kani, Tamago, and the Invisible Man.

The above video and news comes to us from soranews24, explaining that while Ponoc is well aware of how time-consuming and expensive it is to make a feature film, they also don’t want to rest on their laurels. As such, Little Heroes is an anthology of three fantasy stories by three different directors.

The first is “Kanini and Kanino,” directed by Ponoc co-founder Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the director of Witch’s Flower as well as the Ghibli films The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There. This will be first time Yonebayashi will be working from his own idea; the previous films have all been adaptations of English novels. The middle section, “Samurai Eggs,” comes from Yoshiyuki Momose, whose Ghibli resume includes storyboarding, key animation, and/or visual design for Spirited Away, Only Yesterday, and Grave of the Fireflies. This one features a story of a real boy Momose knows and his severe, potentially deadly egg allergy. The final portion is “The Invisible Man” directed by Witch’s Flower and Howl’s Moving Castle character designer Akihiko Yamashita and concerns a man who can’t be seen and his lonely struggle to exist in the world.

When asked about making another film so soon after the first one, and it being made up of three shorter stories, Studio Ponoc CEO Yoshiaki Nishimura said, “Are we to sit idly on the foundation others have made as we make our films? No. We have to create a new area where the rich artistic qualities of animation can be discovered, and I believe short animation is somewhere we can do that.”

Whatever the reason, we’re just jazzed we’re getting more Ponoc stories so quickly. Studio Ghibli’s silence is what led to the creation of Ponoc in the first place and we’re happy they aren’t falling into that pattern.

Little Heroes will be released in Japan this summer and we hope that means it’ll find a U.S. release (we’d bet through the excellent GKIDS) sometime before the end of the year.

Images: Studio Ponoc

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. He’s the writer of Studio Ghibli retrospectives Miyazaki Masterclass, Takahata Textbook, and Ghibli Bits. Follow him on Twitter!

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