Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Modest Heroes

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Film.

Japanese animated film (2018). Original title Chīsana Eiyū: Kani to Tamago to Tōmei Ningen. Studio Ponoc. Directors and writers are named below. Voice cast includes Joe Odagiri, Machiko Ono, Sōta Shinohara and Min Tanaka. 53 minutes. Black and white.

Studio Ponoc was founded by Yoshiaki Nishimura, formerly a producer with Studio Ghibli (see Hayao Miyazaki), as were many of the new company's animators. This anthology of three short films, linked by the subject of "modest heroes" (see Heroes), was intended to showcase its talents.

Kanini and Kanino, directed and written by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. A family of tiny people live in a stream (see Fantasy): the pregnant mother leaves whilst the father looks after their two surviving children (who give the short its name). When he is swept away by a strong current the siblings search for him in water and on land. They are reunited after nearly being eaten by a fish – saved by a heron devouring it. The mother returns with four newborn babies; sometime after, the siblings depart to join others their own age. Though the characters are presented as tiny humans, it is strongly hinted that we are actually watching freshwater crabs (see Perception). The animation is beautiful and in the Ghibli style.

Life Ain't Gonna Lose (original title Samurai eggu), directed and written by Yoshiyuki Momose. A mother (Ono) learns her child (Shinohara) has a potentially fatal food allergy – he can't eat eggs – and we see their struggles to cope. A touching non-fantastic piece.

Invisible (original title Tômei ningen), directed and written by Akihiko Yamashita. A salaryman (Odagiri) is literally Invisible – all we see is his clothing – whilst he has to wear a fire extinguisher over his shoulder as otherwise he will float away (see Gravity). His condition is a metaphor for his invisibility in society (see Clichés): he is ignored by colleagues and shop assistants. One day the frustration gets too much and he angrily throws the fire extinguisher away – immediately regretting the act when he floats off. After much trouble he manages to grab a large pickaxe, then sits despondently – and hungrily – in the rain: a blind man (Tanaka) (whose umbrella and gloved hands means we do not actually see him) gives the salaryman something to eat. This act of kindness spurs him to risk his life saving a baby from being run over; as it cries he tries to comfort it by saying "Peekaboo" – it seems to see him and laughs. Probably the most memorable of the three shorts, its strength lies in the strong animation.

The shorts have the feel of being scenes from larger stories, Life Ain't Gonna Lose being the most satisfactory in terms of being self-contained. Kanini and Kanino shows where the studio is coming from and Invisible proves it can do more than simply imitate Ghibli. [SP]


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies