Modest Heroes (Review: EIFF 2019)

Enthralling, Charming, and Stunningly Beautiful: Modest Heroes creates a sense of wonder and provides a serious foundation towards the future success of Studio Ponoc.

Modest Heroes consists of three short animations created by Studio Ponoc. They are the successors to Studio Ghibli who are responsible for so many incredible animations such as My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away. This volume contains the following short films: Kanini & Kanino, Life Ain’t Gonna Lose, and Invisible.

Kanini & Kanino

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Kanini & Kanino tells the tale of two sea creatures of the same names who live with their father who is their hero. However, when he gets wooshed up by a current, the two children have to grow up and face many unknowns in order to find and save their father. This animation possesses the most breath-taking graphics of the three shorts with an abundance of sharp colours and bright lights.

Life Ain’t Gonna Lose

This second animation is the work of Yoshiyuki Momose. It tells the story of a young boy named Shun who was born with a severe case of allergy to eggs with has led him close to death on several occasions. Due to this condition Shun is unable to possess a normal childhood, always on alert in case of eating or even being touched by anything containing eggs. A planned school trip is about to cause severe damages for Shun. In this short it is the relationship between Shun and his mother which is emphasised, with them both deservedly earning the title of hero whether they believe so or not.


Finally, Invisible is the creation of Akihito Yamashita as he releases his first short animation since 2010. The nameless protagonist is a salaryman who possesses the oddity of being invisible. No one notices him, even the revolving doors of a supermarket. However, his life will take a turn when he makes the acquaintance of a blind man. This was my least anticipated of the three, mainly due to the fact that I had never heard of its director before. However, after viewing it, it is certainly my favourite, truly earning its place alongside the earlier two, and providing a perfect ending to this anthology of shorts.

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