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Studio Ponoc’s Olympics 2021 short Tomorrow’s Leaves is magical

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The Ghibli veterans were inspired by the Olympics opening ceremony

Timed to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has released Tomorrow’s Leaves, an anime short inspired by this year’s opening ceremony. Studio Ponoc, the studio formed by several former Studio Ghibli animators, is behind the film.

Directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, known for his work on such films as 2019’s Ni No Kuni and the “Life Ain’t Gonna Lose” Short from 2018’s Modest Heroes anthology, the film features music by composer Takatsugu Muramatsu, known for his previous collaborations with Ponoc founder Hiromasa Yonebayashi on such films as 2017’s Mary and the Witch’s Flower and 2014’s When Marnie Was There.

Whales and stingrays swim through the air alongside turtles and seagulls above a mysterious island in Tomorrow’s Leaves Image: Studio Ponoc

The short focuses on five children from different islands who travel and meet one another on a mythical isle following the arrival of a mysterious omen of a dying leaf. As they traverse the island’s treacherous terrain, they compete in light-hearted games and forge fast-made bonds with one another as they search for a way to return color and life back to the world.

The short, which originally premiered during the opening ceremony of the Annecy Festival in June, was commissioned by the International Olympic Committee, which initially approached Studio Ponoc about the potential of producing a feature-length anime, according to founder Yoshiaki Nishimura in an interview with Cartoon Brew back in 2019. When Nishimura passed on the idea of producing a feature, the IOC proposed a short film instead and eventually entered into production.

Tomorrow’s Leaves is available to watch for free on YouTube and the International Olympic Committee’s website.