Breathtaking New Movie From Studio Ghibli Alums Could Be the Year’s Sleeper Hit

the imaginary

A team of creatives formerly of Studio Ghibli fame are releasing a new movie out of their own studio this year, The Imaginary, and it’s already looking like it may be a sleeper hit.

The new film, titled The Imaginary and based on a British children’s book of the same name by A.F. Harrold, is the third film from Studio Ponoc, which was founded by former lead producer of Studio Ghibli, Yoshiaki Nishimura, as well as numerous animators from the renowned studio. The studio’s previous films include Mary and the Witch’s Flower, a fantasy film that marked their debut, and Modest Heroes, an anthology film made up of the studio’s shorts. Both works were praised for their beautiful, clearly Ghibli-influenced style, and it seems that The Imaginary will be continuing that trend based on the new trailer.

The Imaginary Promises the Fun and Heart Ghibli Fans Love

The Imaginary revolves around a young girl, Amanda, and her imaginary friend, Rudger. The trailer teases that Rudger may be facing the fate of all imaginary friends: to be forgotten. That leaves him with a choice to make, although exactly what that decision is remains vague for now. There are many beautiful shots in the trailer, including a gorgeous sweeping shot of Rudger flying on a bird. The film also promises all kinds of whimsy and fantasy, as shown with shots of various imaginary creatures and monsters who seem to be celebrating in a hall. The style is fairly different from that of a typical anime but remains close to those Ghibli roots.

While Ghibli fans’ eyes are likely glued to the upcoming release of The Boy and the Heron in Western countries, The Imaginary is looking like a movie that shouldn’t be missed. Many of Ghibli’s talented animators, directors, and producers have begun to set out to forge their own paths, and Studio Ponoc has been one of the more successful groups founded by these creatives. Following on from their previous success, The Imaginary has the potential to put Studio Ponoc on the map as its own entity. While fans will have to wait for the film’s release to know for sure, the trailer, at least, has certainly managed to spark some interest.

Currently, The Imaginary is set for a December 15, 2023, release date for Japan, while Studio Ponoc promises the film is aiming for a 2024 international release, with no specific date set. Fans can check out the trailer above and judge for themselves whether the film lives up to its Studio Ghibli creative pedigree.

Source: Studio Ponoc