This winter, the creator of Mary and The Witch’s Flower presents a new animated feature film. Welcome to The World of Imaginaries!

Studio Ponoc is an animation studio in Tokyo, Japan that makes beautiful hand-drawn, hand-painted films for children and families to enjoy together, and for general audiences, around the world. The studio that produced Mary and The Witch’s Flower, its first feature animated film released in more than 150 countries/regions, is delighted to announce its newest project, the animated feature film The Imaginary.

The story of The Imaginary is based on A.F. Harrold and illustrator Emily Gravett’s 2014 novel “The Imaginary”, a remarkable book that garnered literary awards, winning the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) Book Award and the British Book Design and Production Award, was longlisted for CILIP’s Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenaway Medal for acclaimed children’s literature, and was highly praised in the media.

The Imaginary is a unique and great adventure which humans cannot see that takes place in a world where reality and imagination intersect. Studio Ponoc specializes in exquisite and beautiful background art and stunning hand-drawn animation. The hand-drawn animation of The Imaginary is further deepened by new techniques of light and shadow, the first of its kind in Japan. Japan’s finest animators, led by director Yoshiyuki Momose, emotionally depict the story of the Imaginaries that are right beside us.

This winter, Studio Ponoc brings you The Imaginary, a new fantasy blockbuster that will touch the hearts of all generations, will arrive as “a story of father and child, mother and child, and all of us around the world who live to the fullest, something that is not seen.”

The lead character of The Imaginary is Rudger, a boy no one can see.
“Imaginaries” disappear when they are forgotten by humans and there is no getting around it.

Studio Ponoc, the creator of Mary and The Witch’s Flower, has chosen an “Imaginary” as the protagonist of its newest film, The Imaginary. The lead character is Rudger, a boy no one can see.

Rudger is an Imaginary, imagined by Amanda, who only she can see. Rudger and Amanda spend their days together in the attic of Amanda’s home, jumping into the world of her remarkable imagination and finding joy together. But Imaginaries face a fate that they cannot avoid: when forgotten by humans, they disappear. Rudger, confused by such fate, grasps a glimmer of hope and embarks on an unseen quest. He arrives at The Town of Imaginaries where Imaginaries once forgotten by humans live together. The encounter between Rudger and the Imaginaries is the beginning of a great adventure that determines the future of families and loved ones. The Imaginary is an unforgettable story of those who will be forgotten. This winter, meet Rudger, a new protagonist that no one has ever seen.

Beyond Animation – With collaboration between Japan and France, The Imaginary takes on the challenge of creating a completely new style of hand-drawn animated film.

Hand-drawn animation is drawn by lines, usually by pencil, making it very difficult to portray the Imaginaries as we envision them. For The Imaginary, Studio Ponoc collaborated with French creators using new techniques and new digital technology to create expressions of texture that hand-drawn animation has not been able to achieve, as well as to innovate light and shadow. Reminiscent of Rembrandt, Vermeer and other artists of light and shadow, our new animated expressions powerfully depict the stories of the Imaginaries and other characters in the film. This technique, the first of its kind in Japan, is a challenge eagerly taken on by Studio Ponoc to push hand-drawn animation a step further, a hallmark of both Studio Ponoc and director Yoshiyuki Momose.

An ambitious film by renowned animator and director Yoshiyuki Momose. The world of “The Imaginaries” is hand drawn by Japan’s world-class animators.

The director of The Imaginary is Yoshiyuki Momose, who at Studio Ghibli worked alongside legendary director Isao Takahata on his Studio Ghibli films from Grave of the Fireflies to The Tale of The Princess Kaguya. Mr. Takahata called Momose not only his “right arm”, but instead “both arms” – The Imaginary is an ambitious work by this genius director. The supervising animator is Kenichi Konishi, a former Studio Ghibli animator and leading animator of Japanese animation. The film’s splendidly beautiful hand-painted background art, including the surprising touches of cruelty of the Imaginary world, were created by Art Director Kosuke Hayashi and Dehogallery. The producer of The Imaginary is Yoshiaki Nishimura, the producer of Isao Takahata’s final masterpiece The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There (each nominated as Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards) and Studio Ponoc’s beloved debut animated feature film Mary and The Witch’s Flower. Please look forward to beautiful and dynamic hand-drawn animation by Studio Ponoc, led by renowned animator Yoshiyuki Momose and Japan’s finest creators.

Bringing life to animation – A magnificent team of actors join The Imaginary

Kokoro Terada plays the lead character Rudger in his first role in an animated film ever. With special thoughts for this film, prescoring (recording before animation) took place before (and even while!) his young adult voice began to change. Rio Suzuki plays Amanda, the girl who imagines Rudger. The highly respected and renowned actress Sakura Ando plays Amanda’s mother, Lizzie, her first role in an animated film. Highly acclaimed actor Issey Ogata plays Mr Bunting, Riisa Naka plays the girl whom Rudger meets in The Town of Imaginaries, a mysterious cat that appears in front of Rudger is played by Takayuki Yamada, and Atsuko Takahata plays Amanda’s grandmother. This exquisite ensemble of many of Japan’s leading actors completes Studio Ponoc’s bringing of life to the characters of The Imaginary.

No part of this website may be reproduced or reprinted in any form or by any means, including, but not limited to, text, graphics, or photographs.

© 2023 Ponoc