GKIDS Licenses Studio Ponoc's Modest Heroes Anime Anthology Film
posted on by Karen Ressler
GKIDS announced on Wednesday that it has acquired North American distribution rights for Studio Ponoc's anthology film Modest Heroes: Ponoc Short Film Theater, Volume 1. The company plans to release the film theatrically with both English subtitles and an English dub in January 2019 following the film's United States premiere at Los Angeles' Animation is Film Festival on October 20.
The press release notes that Maggie Q (Nikita, Designated Survivor) will have a voice role in the "Life Ain't Gonna Lose" short.
The film opened theatrically in Japan on August 24. The anthology consists of three shorts that Studio Ponoc describes the shorts as "tales of modest heroes of our times."
Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who directed the studio's previous Mary and The Witch's Flower film and Studio Ghibli's When Marnie Was There, directed the 15-minute fantasy adventure story "Kanini & Kanino" ("Kanini to Kanino") about two crab siblings. The short is Yonebayashi's first original story.
Fumino Kimura (live-action Paradise Kiss, Kyō, Koi o Hajimemasu) played the older brother Kanini, and Rio Suzuki played the younger brother Kanino. Kimura noted that her entire dialogue is in "crab language." Composer Takatsugu Muramatsu (Lu over the wall) reunited with Yonebayashi after scoring When Marnie Was There and Mary and The Witch's Flower.
Yoshiyuki Momose directed "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 Ghibli director Isao 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.
In her first full-fledged voice-acting role, Machiko Ono (live-action Kiki's Delivery Service, In This Corner of the World) played the "Mama" with a Kishiwada accent from Osaka. 9-year-old Sōta Shinohara played the boy Shun. Kentaro Sakaguchi (live-action Umimachi Diary) took on two roles, the father and a doctor. Keyboardist and producer Masanori Shimada (.hack//Legend of the Twilight, songs for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Gintama) composed his first film soundtrack.
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 Hayao Miyazaki's films in 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.
Joe Odagiri (SHINOBI - Heart Under Blade, Mushishi, Kamen Rider Kuuga, Zaion: I Wish You Were Here) played the invisible man, and dancer/actor Min Tanaka (Tekkonkinkreet, live-action Rurouni Kenshin Part II: Kyoto Inferno, Blade of the Immortal) played the blind man. Music producer Yasutaka Nakata (Five Numbers!, Portable Kuukou and its sequels) composed the soundtrack.
Source: Press release