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Producer: Ghibli's Isao Takahata Would Have Made Modest Heroes Anime Short

posted on by Egan Loo
Yoshiaki Nishimura: There was a plan before Takahata passed away this year

Former Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura reported on Sunday that there was a plan for the late Ghibli director Isao Takahata to direct a short in the new Modest Heroes anime anthology film. Nishimura, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There), and other Ghibli veterans spoke at the premiere of Studio Ponoc's anthology, which will open nationwide later this Friday.

Modest Heroes (Chiisa na Eiyū – Kani to Tamago to Tōmei Ningen) is made of three shorts, but Nishimura said, "There were actually four shorts, and there were discussions on director Takahata making one of them." He added, "It is very unfortunate, but our mentor passed away this year." He noted that the film's three directors all trained under Takahata's tutelage, and therefore he thinks "director Takahata lives on in these three shorts."

Nishimura recalled meeting with Takahata often to talk, including one timely topic: "We discussed what happens when a person dies. [Takahata] said, 'We Japanese have a saying: We watch over you from our graves.' So maybe even Takahata is secretly watching this movie here."

Takahata passed away on April 5 after a year-long battle with lung cancer. He was 82. He had a long career directing such classics as Little Norse Prince Valiant (Taiyō no Ōji - Hols no Daibōken), Alps no Shōjo Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, and Panda! Go, Panda! before he co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki. He went on to create the feature films Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, and My Neighbors the Yamadas. Takahata's final film as director was The Tale of Princess Kaguya in 2013.

Studio Ponoc describes the shorts in Modest Heroes as "tales of modest heroes of our times." Modest Heroes will open on August 24 as the first volume of Ponoc Short Films Theatre (Ponoc Tanpen Gekijō), an anthology of anime shorts divided into volumes with different themes.

Yonebayashi, who directed the studio's previous Mary and The Witch's Flower film and Studio Ghibli's When Marnie Was There, is directing the 15-minute fantasy adventure story "Kanini & Kanino" ("Kanini to Kanino") about two crab siblings. The short is Yonebayashi's first original story.

Yoshiyuki Momose is directing "Life Ain't Gonna Lose" ("Samurai Egg"), a 15-minute "human drama" (based on a true story) showing the love between a mother and a boy. Momose previously worked closely with Takahata in various roles on his films Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, including as animation director, storyboarder, visual design, and special scene design.

Akihiko Yamashita's "Invisible" ("Tōmei Ningen") is a 14-minute "action spectacle" that centers on the lonely struggle of one invisible man. Yamashita previously worked in various roles in Miyazaki's films at Ghibli, including as animator, animation director, character designer, animation supervisor, and assistant director in such films as Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo, and The Wind Rises.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web

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