A Studio Ponoc Film

The Imaginary

Based on the novel “The Imaginary” by A.F. Harrold (2014, illustrated by Emily Gravett) Director: Yoshiyuki Momose Producer: Yoshiaki Nishimura Production: The Imaginary F.P.

About the Film

The Imaginary is Studio Ponoc’s newest animated feature film. Based on the award-winning novel “The Imaginary” by A.F. Harrold,The Imaginary is directed by renowned animator and director Yoshiyuki Momose who worked alongside legendary directors Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki on several Studio Ghibli films.
The main character of The Imaginary is Rudger. Born from a young girl’s imagination, Rudger is a boy no one can see who lives in a world where imaginations can live and be eaten by others. The Imaginary is an extraordinarily touching and beautiful hand-drawn fantasy film in which Rudger and his new friends in “The Imaginaries Town” embark on an adventure no one can see at the risk of the futures and fates of those they love.


Based on “The Imaginary” by A.F. Harrold

A.F. Harrold is an English poet, performer and children’s author. Born in Sussex in 1975, he began writing poetry in his teenage years. After graduating from Reading University, he became a full-time poet after trying to be a bookseller. He won the Cheltenham Literature Festival All-Stars Poetry Slam in 2007 and was Poet-in-Residence at Glastonbury Festival in 2008. In 2012, Bloomsbury published his first children's novel, “Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library)” followed by five more books in the Fizzlebert Stump series. “The Imaginary” (2014, illustrated by Emily Gravett) won the UKLA Book Award and his sci-fi comedy novel, “Greta Zargo and the Amoeba Monsters from the Middle of the Earth” (2018, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton), won the Teach Primary First News Funny Award.


“I’m delighted and honoured that Studio Ponoc saw something special enough in my and Emily’s novel to commit their time and talent to translate it to the big screen. I’m excited and intrigued in equal measure to see how they manage the job of squeezing a book-shaped thing into a film-shaped thing. Knowing Studio Ponoc, though, I don’t doubt that this story is in safe hands.”

Director Yoshiyuki Momose

Animation Director. Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1953. Yoshiyuki Momose joined Studio Ghibli after working as Key Animator on Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies (1988), then was in charge of storyboard drawings for Takahata’s Only Yesterday (1991) and Pom Poko (1994) and computer-generated portions of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (1997), and was a leading Key Animator of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001) and sequence director for Takahata’s My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999). After debuting as the director of a theatrical feature with the Ghiblies episode 2 (2002), Momose was in charge of scene design for Takahata’s final masterpiece, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013). At Studio Ponoc, he directed Life Ain’t Gonna Lose, one of the three short films in Studio Ponoc’s anthology Modest Heroes – Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1 (2018). His latest work as director is Tomorrow’s Leaves (2021), an animated short film created in collaboration with the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.


“It is a very difficult task to materialize ‘imagination’, to portray ‘something that has never been seen’ in a film, and this is why I find it interesting – and at the same time challenging – to present it in animation. The idea of our lead character being ‘a boy made by imagination’ may seem constricting, but what we see from this boy’s perspective is a truly vast and open world. Rudger and his friends live in ‘The Town of Imaginaries’ – innocent, pure, and in the moment. Rather than depict a world seen from the perspective of ‘the Imaginaries’ with only a sense of entrapment, I am creating a film full of abundance and opportunities for liberation, offering strength to those of us living in our era.”

Producer Yoshiaki Nishimura

Founder and Producer, Studio Ponoc. Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1977, studied aboard in California. At Studio Ghibli, Yoshiaki Nishimura was involved in production of director Hayao Miyazaki’s “Let’s Eat at Home” series of TV commercials for House Foods (2004) and advertising of Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Tales from Earthsea (2006), and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008). Nishimura is the producer of Isao Takahata’s final masterpiece The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013) and When Marnie Was There (2014) (each nominated as Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards). Now the CEO and producer of Studio Ponoc which he founded in April 2015, Nishimura produced the feature film Mary and The Witch’s Flower (2017), the short-film anthology Modest Heroes - Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1 (2018), and Tomorrow’s Leaves (2021), an animated short film created in collaboration with the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.


“It was right after I finished making Mary and The Witch’s Flower that I picked up the original novel ‘The Imaginary’ by A.F. Harrold and Emily Gravett. It offered a glimpse of life that we all have experienced. It was funny and a bit scary. Most of all, it moved me. Could I make a film of this novel? I wondered if it would be possible for us to make a film that captures the essence of our present times from the perspective of a boy who is not human, not a ghost, not a robot and not an animal, but is a ‘boy imagined by a human’. After thinking on it for over two years, I saw Rudger – he simply appeared. I became fascinated by what he was trying to convey, something irreplaceable. Our film The Imaginary is the story of Rudger, a boy who lives within imagination. It is the story of all of us around the world who live to the fullest, something that is not seen. And it is a film that says out loud that love and hope are there, always right there, beside you. Please look forward to a film pushing beyond the limits of hand-drawn animation, led by renowned animator Yoshiyuki Momose and our dedicated and talented creators.”

Studio Ponoc is the animation studio founded in 2015 by former Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura (nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There). The name “Studio Ponoc” comes from the Croatian word “ponoć”, which means “midnight” or the beginning of a new day, reflecting founder Nishimura’s goal of a new start for animation created in Japan. The studio produced and released worldwide director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s Mary and The Witch’s Flower in summer 2017 as its first animated feature film and created a new production label – “Ponoc Short Films Theatre” – in 2018, releasing Modest Heroes – Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1, the first anthology of short animated films from Studio Ponoc comprising a grand fantasy adventure, a moving human drama of love, and an action spectacle. In 2021, the studio created Tomorrow’s Leaves, commissioned by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage and the world’s first animated short film inspired by the Olympic Values.


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