The Imaginary Teaser Reveals Studio Ponoc’s Next Anime

Studio Ponoc is returning to the big screen. The studio behind Mary and the Witch’s Flower has released the first teaser for their upcoming film, The Imaginary. The trailer can be viewed below.

The film is an adaptation of A.F. Harrold’s novel of the same name. Emily Gravett provided illustrations. The book was the winner of the 2016 UKLA Book Award, and the 2015 British Book Design and Production Award (both Children’s Category and Overall Winner). The synopsis for the book is currently on Harrold’s website.

Rudger is Amanda Shuffleup’s imaginary friend. It’s a funny old life, not really being there, but someone’s got to do it. Nobody else can see Rudger – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he’s sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?

Yoshiyuki Momose (Whose previous credits include directing the animation for the 2019 film NiNoKuni) is directing the film. Yoshiaki Nishimura, Studio’s Ponoc’s founder, is producing The Imaginary. Nishimura is also credited as the producer of the studio’s breakout film Mary and the Witch’s Flower, his previous producer credits include Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There and The Tale of Princess Kaguya.


The studio’s breakout film, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, was released in 2017. The film was also based on a book, The Little Boomstick by Mary Stewart. It opened at second place in Japan, grossing ¥428 million ($3.9 million) during its opening weekend. The film currently holds a score of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While the trailer doesn’t give us too much to look at for the time being, what we do see is our first glimpse of the imaginary boy, Rudger. But what we can probably make a good guess on is that it will be beautiful to look at and will probably take full advantage of what animation can give. When asked about the establishment of Studio Ponoc, and the production of Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Nishimura had this to say.

“When Marnie was There is a work that proved that Yonebayashi, who excels at dynamic painting, sealed his specialty and can draw trivial emotions. But as a producer, I want to see dynamic animation, so I decided to do a fantasy with a cheerful girl moving around.”

Since the release of Mary and the Witch’s Flower, the studio also released 2018’s Modest Heroes. The anthology film consists of three segments directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Yoshiyuki Momose and Akihiko Yamashita, all three being former Studio Ghibli staffers. GKIDS acquired the North American distribution rights and released the film in 2019. Currently, the film has a critic’s score of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While we don’t have too much to take in from the teaser to The Imaginary, one thing seems to be clear. An anime about imaginary beings with former Ghibli staff behind it? That seems like a combination for something really fun! Imaginary is planned for release in 2022.

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Caroline Miller
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Caroline is a longtime admirer of film, music and the arts. She’s been giving movie opinions online (warranted or not) for over a decade, and putting those thoughts to Movieweb since early 2021.

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