Netflix will be the exclusive home to Japan's Studio Ponoc – an exciting animation house full of Studio Ghibli talent

The Imaginary
(Image credit: Studio Ponoc / Netflix)

Studio Ponoc is widely considered to be the next Studio Ghibli – not least because it was founded by veterans from the beloved anime studio including Oscar-nominated producer Yoshiaki Nishimura. And that means its new Netflix deal is a big one for the streamer. Ponoc Sutdio's new anime, The Imaginary, will be a Netflix exclusive after its cinematic release in Japan – and there will be plenty more movies where that came from.

The news comes via Netflix, which announced the deal this week. The streamer is going to be "the exclusive streaming home of upcoming Studio Ponoc films", which means our best Netflix anime list is going to be undergoing a big shakeup – and Nishimura for one is delighted. "Studio Ponoc is thrilled to bring our storytelling and innovative hand-drawn, hand-painted animated films to all audiences, and in particular to children and their families to enjoy together, around the world on Netflix," he says.

A new day for Netflix anime

The name of the studio comes from ponoć, a Croatian word that means "midnight" or more poetically, the dawn of a new day. The studio's first film, 2017's Mary and The Witch's Flower, set the tone. It was praised for its gorgeous visuals, charming storytelling and enthralling imagination. 

The Imaginary, which will premiere later this year, is directed by Yoshiyuki Momose (Spirited Away) and promises to be "an unforgettable adventure of love, loss and the healing power of imagination". 

Based on the critically acclaimed children's book of the same name by AF Harrold and illustrator Emily Gravett, it focuses on Amanda and her imaginary friend Rudger who embark on adventures from Amanda's attic that lead them to discover incredible places and creators – only to find a sinister force threatening both their imaginary world and their very real friendship. 

According to Netflix, The Imaginary will feature "first-of-their-kind techniques of light and shadow" and "groundbreaking hand-drawn animation". It sounds like it'll be quite something, and if it's anything like the book it'll be lovely and just scary enough for younger viewers. The Imaginary will be released in Japan later this year before coming exclusively to the best streaming service.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.