Modest Heroes is a movie that was released in Japan on August 24, 2018, but was released in American theatres on January 10, 2019. The studio behind this movie is called Studio Ponoc, it was created by Yoshiaki Nishimura.
Modest Heroes has three different short films in one based on the same concept, modest heroes. We always consume media and entertainment where the hero has to save the world. It’s a popular concept, but what about the simpler heroes? Whether it’s finding a lost animal’s way home or keeping your child safe from a certain food so they don’t have an allergic reaction. This Film sheds some light on those types of heroes.
The first Story is Kanini and Kanino, which is a story about two crab siblings who are very tiny. They live in a stream, and to survive they catch small fish, but there’s also a big fish who eats their kind. But one day the current washes away Kanini and Kanino’s father. So they go up out of the water, and when they go back into the stream, they find their father injured. Then the big fish comes around, and while their father is yelling at them to run, and they don’t, one of them distracts the fish as the father sits there, but in the middle of that fight, a bird just eats the fish. They return home and their mother who had gone away to give birth is there, and they have a happy little reunion. This story is modest. They are just two brave kids trying to find and save their dad, although I’m not sure if this was an issue at other Theatres. In the first movie, there were no subtitles, so it was hard to understand.
The second film is called Life Ain’t Gonna Lose. Life Ain’t Gonna Lose is about a young Boy who was diagnosed with a lethal allergy to eggs. The story follows him and his mother, and the difficulties of living with an allergy like that. There are scenes where the boy Shun is at school and waits in the hallway as they prepare the food to keep him safe; the students were careful not to get any food or spit near him. But the true focus is on the mother and her sacrifices. She protects her son at all costs. There is a scene when he accompanies her to her dance class and as he is watching he grabs a cookie containing eggs and his mother stops dancing and runs at him, screaming that he could have died. On the way home on the bus, she apologizes.
One day when Shun comes home and eats his ice cream, he starts having a reaction and calls his mom. This story is heartwarming and really puts into perspective living with a lethal allergy. The story is based of-of a boy that the creator of Studio Ponoc knows or Knew of as it states at the segment at the end of the movie(Anecdotally when I was at the theatre with my dad everyone left thinking that the end of the movie had come after the third movie so everyone but two others and us missed the entire interview with the creator of Studio Ponoc).
The third movie is about an invisible man living life as well an invisible man he wears clothes, has a job but is still never acknowledged, He even has to carry around a weight so he doesn’t float away he is weightless and invisible. The film really shows (in my opinion) the loneliness he has, and there are scenes that are very intense but again all of these stories are based around modest heroes, so what does he do? I won’t spoil too much but he saves a baby from a truck.
The interview at the end explained the thought process for each movie as well as the fact that there were originally going to be four movies but sadly, the director Isao Takahata died in April of 2018. He also talked about the short film business but due to the fact that I didn’t write this immediately after seeing it, I cannot remember all of the details(sorry). But overall these stories were to some level inspiring seeing everyday people live their lives.