Netflix just gave their anime division another boost by signing an exclusive deal with Studio Ponoc. Per the deal, Netflix will become the global distributor of Ponoc’s next few films outside Japan. But you probably have one question…who’s Ponoc?
The story goes like this: in 2014, Studio Ghibli announced it would be closing its doors. Yoshiaki Nishimura, who’d been working at the studio for many years, didn’t want to lose his occupation and rounded up some others to found a new animation studio to replace it. Then Ghibli decided not to shut down after all, but the “replacement” found its own place in the market.
So basically Studio Ponoc is the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter version of Studio Ghibli, producing works that are very similar in feel and tone. They’re fairly young and have only released two feature films thus far: Mary and the Witch’s Flower in 2017 and Modest Heroes in 2018, the latter being more of a compilation of shorts than a real movie. Other than that they have taken on small projects, and served as assistants in real Ghibli movies like the recent The Boy And The Heron.
But they do have another full movie up their sleeves and it’s set to be released in Japan in less than a year’s time. It’s called The Imaginary and it’s based on a novel by British author A.F. Harrold. The movie focuses on Amanda, a young girl, and her imaginary friend Rudger who takes her to the world of imaginary creatures. There they discover a threat that could destroy that world and must team up to save it. Two trailers have been released so far:
Since The Imaginary won’t be released until December in Japan, it may be a while before Netflix’s deal with Studio Ponoc produces any visible results. But whenever the movie is released in the US, you’ll know where to find it.