Studio Ponoc continues to carry their forebearer’s torch with its new movie. These former Studio Ghibli creators are adapting a Western novel in anime format. The Imaginary, known as Rudger in the Attic (Yaneura no Rudger) in Japan, shows us what happens when imaginary friends are forgotten by their creators. They don’t have a foster home with a rabbit butler. We’ll see how Rudger fairs when the movie premieres on December 15th, 2023. We can enjoy the trailer before the movie hits theaters.
Rudger’s imaginative adventure The Imaginary was first penned by A. F. Harrold in October 2014, with the cover illustration provided by Emily Gravett.
Studio Ponoc has elected to hire live-action actors in lieu of noted voice actors for their characters. Besides Rio Suzuki, who voices Mimi Atachi in Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens and Manya Atachi in Yu-Gi-Oh! Go Rush!!, the rest can all be seen in TV and movies. It may be a situation similar to when Hollywood hires notable actors to do voice work, when they in fact have no experience in voice acting.
Fans and potential viewers can follow Studio Ponoc on Twitter in both English and Japanese. Likewise, their promotional home page for The Imaginary can also be found in English and Japanese. This stellar key visual can be found on those sites.
Studio Ponoc Carries Studio Ghibli’s Torch
While it may be concerning that Studio Ponoc hired live-action actors instead of voice actors, these creators are by no means amateurs. The studio was founded by former Studio Ghibli lead film producer Yoshiaki Nishimura in April 2015. Hiromasa Yonebayashi joined him along with several other Studio Ghibli talents. The title character of their first feature film, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, acts as their studio logo. This mirrors Studio Ghibli’s use of Totoro as their own logo.
Like Studio Ghibli, Studio Ponoc’s films are wild adventures with tremendous depth to them. Mary and the Witch’s Flower sees a young girl discover magic in special flower bulbs, and the danger that comes with such great power. Modest Heroes is more of a forlorn anthology of three disconnected stories where characters must maintain hope in the face of peril.
Studio Ponoc takes its name from the Serbo-Croatian word “pónoć,” which means “midnight”. Used in this way, “midnight” is meant to symbolize the “beginning of a new day.”
Imaginary or Not, He Wants to Live
The Imaginary is set in a world where imaginary friends are both real and not real. They exist in that they become sentient beings, but they can only be seen by the people who made them. They cease to be when their creators forget about them.
Rudger is one such imaginary friend. His creator is Amanda, and they go on fantastical adventures born of her imagination. Their playroom is an attic, but it’s more than enough space for them. Amanda is apparently a girl who has “lost love,” so she’ll need someone like Rudger.
Circumstances arise that force Rudger to flee for his imaginary life. A strange man arrives on Amanda’s doorstep, and his appearance spells doom. Mr. Bunting hunts, and even eats, imaginary beings like him. Faced with being forgotten, or eaten, Rudger must find The Town of Imaginaries. It’s a place where forgotten imaginary friends can live.
While Rudger finds his own place of fantasy, fans of fantastical waifus can find their own. The J-List shop has Nemesis 1/7 Figure Venus Ver. from Tower of Fantasy available for pre-order.
Are you looking forward to watching The Imaginary? I, for one, certainly hope it comes to the West soon. Have you read the original novel? Did you ever have an imaginary friend as a kid? Let us know in the comments below.