Studio Ponoc, founded in 2015 by ex-Studio Ghibli animators, will produce an anime short for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the company announced at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France.
“I want to make a film that will get kids excited about the Olympics. The type of world we want to see at the end of all this competition, even beyond the Olympics, will be a major theme,” said Studio Ponoc founder and producer Yoshiaki Nishimura at a press conference at the festival.
The anime short, commissioned by the International Olympic Committee and due to be completed by spring 2020, will be the first for an Olympics. It is scheduled to debut at Tokyo 2020, before being screened elsewhere, including future Olympic host cities.
“As the Tokyo 2020 Games approach, we wanted to explore animation as a creative vehicle to express the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship,” said Francis Gabet, director of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH).
“We are delighted to take on the challenge, together with the OFCH, of creating a beautiful hand-drawn animated film that will speak to the world, in particular children, encouraging all to embrace life with a peaceful and tolerant spirit in their hearts, regardless of the challenges they may face,” Nishimura said.
Nishimura worked on Studio Ghibli productions including Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, and was producer on The Tale of Princess Kaguya and When Marnie Was There, which were nominated for best animated feature Oscars in consecutive years. He left Ghibli when Miyazaki and Isao Takahata announced their retirements.
Nishimura was joined at Ponoc by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, director of When Marnie Was There, where they worked on the studio’s Mary and The Witch’s Flower, its only feature so far.
Studio Ponoc released a three-film anthology last year, Modest Heroes, featuring works by Yonebayashi, Yoshiyuki Momose and another Ghibli alumni in Akihiko Yamashita. The anthology was screened at Annecy.