“Tomorrow’s Leaves,” the anime short that Studio Ponoc produced for the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH) to commmemorate the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will stream worldwide on its official website on Friday, July 23 at 7:00 p.m. (6:00 a.m. EDT). That is one hour before the delayed Olympics’ opening ceremony starts.
The International Olympic Committee describes the short:
The annual arrival of the message leaf causes concern – something is undeniably wrong.
Its usually vibrant and lasting colours quickly fade, and it suddenly withers and crumbles.
Five envoys, from five diverse lands, are dispatched to find out what has happened.
The envoys travel to a distant land, quietly guided by tiny spirits. Each envoy has its own strengths and vulnerabilities. They compete and support each other as they draw closer to their destination, facing treacherous terrain and difficult conditions. Through athletic challenges and the uniting power of sport, they discover the positive fundamental values that come with playful competition.
Together, the envoys approach near the source of the message leaf.
Can they restore life to a future in peril?
Yoshiyuki Momose (Modest Heroes‘ “Life Ain’t Gonna Lose” short, Ghiblies Episode 2) directed the short. Momose previously worked closely with Ghibli director Isao Takahata in various roles on his films Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, including as animation director, storyboarder, visual design, and special scene design. Takatsugu Muramatsu (Modest Heroes‘ “Kanini & Kanino” short, Lu over the wall, Mary and The Witch’s Flower, When Marnie Was There) handled the short’s seamless mix of music and sound effects.
The short had its world premiere at the opening ceremony of the Annecy Festival on June 14. It has already been playing at the Skytree Round Theater near the top of the Tokyo Skytree tower since Monday, and it will continue playing there until September 5. It The short will have a limited run at the United Cinemas Toyosu theater from July 23 to July 29.
The hand-drawn short is part of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage’s Arts & Culture Programmes as Studio Ponoc‘s first commissioned work.
Studio Ponoc founder Yoshiaki Nishimura (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There) told the website Cartoon Brew in an interview that the IOC initially approached Studio Ponoc to produce a feature-length anime. The IOC proposed the production around the time that Studio Ponoc was working on Modest Heroes. However, Nishimura said that he did not believe his studio’s animators had the particular skills required for a feature-length film about sports. The IOC then proposed a short, which the studio agreed to produce.
Nishimura founded Studio Ponoc in 2015, and the studio also employs other former Studio Ghibli animators. Studio Ponoc‘s anime films include Mary and The Witch’s Flower and Modest Heroes. GKIDS screened both films in the United States.