After the success of The Mary and Witch’s flower directed by Yonebayashi, a Ghibli stalwart. In 2018 Yoshiaki Nishimura, former Ghibli producer and founder of Studio Ponoc produced a series of short films and a joyful Studio Ponoc intro, with colourful animation and upbeat music.

Officially titled Modest Heroes – Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1, Modest Heroes is the first anthology film by Studio Ponoc, it includes three short films directed by former Ghibli staffers, including Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Yoshiyuki Momose, Akihiko Yamashita.

This volume would have included a short film by Takahata, but the untimely demise of this great artist has left us in shock

Yasuraka ni nemuru

1. Kanini and Kanino

Kanini and Kanino, Modest heroes Poster

Directed by Yonebayashi

Kanini(Fumino Kimura) and Kanino(Rio Suzuki) are siblings living with their siblings in a freshwater lake. When their mother was away giving birth to their siblings, they are hit by a catastrophe. They embark on a daring adventure to rescue their father.

Plot or synopsis and voice cast

You can easily guess this short is directed by Yonebayashi, director of Arriety(to make sure I had to Google it, though I was most certain about it). It was good to watch Borrowers again. It’s very promising to watch and feels complete like a short glimpse into something adorable we love. The resemblance is so obvious, yet we can’t just simply label it as an offshoot of Arriety. But however, I can’t deny the excitement of getting another movie set in the world of borrowers, exploring further, though chances are very grim.

And another and most adorable thing, I should mention that Animation is again gorgeous. Use of CGI animation is more profound than his other works, and I think it’s pretty unusual for the Yonebayashi. I have recently written so much about the Handdrawn Animation so that I am feeling drained out of the words. But that doesn’t change how I feel when I watch those movies.

Short films are known for experimenting with new techniques, and I could sense it in the sound engineering of this movie. The film hardly has any dialogues, but this underwater world is so immersing. Sound effects are great, they make this world so convincing.

2. Life ain’t gonna loose Review

Directed by Yoshiyuki Momose

Shun(Sota Sinuhara) has a severe allergy toward the eggs and even a slightest contamination can be fatal. His mother(Machiko Ono), a dancer has to be so careful about his eating habits. He is a lively boy but he must be extra careful about what he eats. He carries a special lunch to the school and needs permission to go on a picnic. But when the tragedy strikes he must not lose hope.

life ain’t gonna loose Plot/Synopsis and voice cast

This short film feels most complete as a standalone work than two of the other works. I personally enjoyed it the most, and the experience was great and heartwarming. The characters are relatable and feel genuine. I think it’s very remarkable that it has character development in such a short duration. You can feel the stress and struggle that the characters are facing. The portrayal of the mothers is most remarkable, as she struggles to monitor each and every bite little takes, sometimes she succumbs to the stress and tries to get hold of herself because she can’t let Shun lose hope and be hateful.

The most remarkable scene from the movie is, when Shun holds a egg in his hands. His hatred toward the eggs is so deep and it’s almost certain that he will smash the egg, pressure is building up but he does something very unlikely and adorable.

You have to watch it in order to find out what he did with the egg.

Each film of this volume has a unique animation style, and it completely resonates with the story including the bright colours of this short film.

3. Invisible Review

Invisible movie review

Directed by Yakihiko Yamashika

This story follows an invisible mysterious guy. He is having a hard time making his presence felt. There is also another peculiar thing, he seems to be lighter than the air, he must carry some weight while roaming around. For this purpose, he always carries a Fire extinguisher with him. But deep down he is a good-hearted soul and would risk everything to be a hero.

Invisible, Modest heroes Plot or Synopsis and Voice cast

If I have to decide which one of them needs a follow-up, then I will definitely choose this one. Unlike others, this short film’s mysterious and interesting premise is so tempting, makes us crave for a follow-up. There are many layers in the story, which are left answered(it is obvious when you have had a duration of fewer than 20 minutes). However, it delivers a convincing end on a high note.

The use of a greyish colour palette matches the tone of the film. Animation is groundbreaking, it is remarkable to watch an invisible man interacting with the other elements(raindrops makes it look cooler) and defying the gravity. They did a great job by getting many physical aspects right. And another effective thing is the soundtrack, movie has two gripping and intense scenes and soundtrack really adds to the intensity.

Look how convincing it is


This is an epic demonstration of the potential Studio Ponoc holds, all three shorts are great and would have been a masterpiece if Takahata’s short was there. They have very endearing themes like family values and never give up, a great watch for kids. It’s highly recommended for people of all ages. Perfect for a casual watch, the duration of short films does not exceed 20 minutes.

It’s available on Netflix as Netflix original, just go and give it a watch

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