Anthology of three short films. Directors are named in the Review.
The full English title of this is Modest Heroes: Ponoc Short Films Theatre. And by far the strongest emphasis in this show seems to be on the display of the Ponoc Films logo, while our "heroes" are very modest indeed. (Oh, I forgot to mention: it says this is Volume One, so I guess a series is planned.)
Story Number One is "Kanini and Kanino", directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. It's a Ghibli/Disney-esque fantasy featuring some miniature merpeople (I guess; they look more like Cro-Magnons than like fish to me, and though they live in a stream, they seem equally comfortable in water or air.) Early on Mom leaves them and their dad (I cynically suspected she might have gone off to spawn with someone else), and then Dad gets separated from them in an aquatic cataclysm, prompting the kids to go on a dangerous quest to find him. Since the kids are only "modest heroes", a deus ex machina may eventually be required to set things right.
Story Number Two is "Life Ain't Gonna Lose", by Yoshiyuki Momose. This was my favorite tale here by far. When I was researching Japan prior to my trip in 2017. I read that genetic food allergies are rare in Japan, and yet anaphylaxis- an extreme (and highly dangerous) immune system reaction to substances the body has been "sensitized" to, including insect sting venom and certain foods- seems a recurring theme in anime; anaphylaxis from insect stings appears in both The Case of Hana and Alice and in an episode of the Kindaichi series, while eggs as the potentially lethal agent I recall from a hentai show many years back- AND are the problem in THIS show as well. The exasperating thing about having certain food intolerances- as I know from personal experience- is that the thing you're allergic to very often turns up as an ingredient in processed foods without being clearly labeled, and that makes it hard for someone with a severe intolerance, like THIS story's "modest hero", a kid named Shun, to even safely exist. It's especially hard on a kid, when they can't eat the cookies or cake that the other kids enjoy, and poor Shun has several close calls. I really liked Shun's mom, partly for her unusual activity (she's in a dance group), but mostly for her casual, and yet protective, relationship with her son- while she's STILL trying to find a way for Shun to safely have social experiences with his peers.
Story Number Three is "Invisible", by Akihiko Yamashita. Our protagonist is not noticed by anyone, so he's portrayed here as empty clothes. (I didn't understand how he could possibly be surviving in his job, working in car sales. He would be much more suited to a job like that guy's in the movie Office Space, who was occupying an office, and getting a paycheck, but had otherwise been completely forgotten by everyone in the company.) It's shown how insubstantial he is in an interesting, literal way. Nevertheless, he does get to be a "modest hero", even if his heroism in the end only gets to bolster his self-esteem, just a little.
The kids in #1 needed some near-divine intervention, #2's "heroism" is simple survival, and the poor guy's acts in #3 may be, in the words of the Gettysburg Address, "little noticed nor long remembered." As I said at the beginning, modest heroes indeed. There ARE better anime anthologies than this one out there (check the Recs), but our protagonists are all decent folks, so we'll give them a pass. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Kids in peril. MPAA rating is PG.
Version(s) Viewed: Netflix video stream
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Modest Heroes © 2018 Studio Ponoc (as it will incessantly remind you)
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