Studio Ponoc has been causing a buzz ever since their founding in 2015 by Studio Ghibli veterans. Their first project, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, was a hit in Japan and showed the staff can produce “Ghibli magic” under a different banner. They are looking to continue the trend with Ponoc Short Films Theater.
The project is an anthology of short films, divided into different volumes containing a unifying theme. Modest Heroes will contain three stories that Studio Ponec describes as “tales of modest heroes of our times.”
Kanini to Kanino is a 15-minute adventure story about a pair of crab brothers, and is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Mary and the Witches Flower).
Samurai Egg is a 15-minute drama about the familial love between a mother and son, and is directed by Yoshiyuki Momose (Grave of the Fireflies assistant animation director).
Toumei Ningen is a 14-minute action story about the lonely struggle of an invisible man, and is directed by Akihiko Yamashita (Howl’s Moving Castle animation director).
The three project directors have close ties to Studio Ghibli and will be drawing from the experience. Aside from Mary and the Witches Flower, Yonebayashi directed The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There while at Ghibli. Momose held various roles on films directed by Isao Takahata, which included Grave of the Fireflies and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Yamashita was a frequent staffer on Hayao Miyazaki films, including Spirited Away and Ponyo.
Modest Heroes will open in Japanese theaters on August 24.