A heap of trash acquires a beating heart, a personality, and a friend in the steampunkish Poupelle of Chimney Town, an intriguing anime feature whose first teaser has just dropped. The film will open in Japanese theaters in December before expanding worldwide next year.
Veteran cg animator Yusuke Hirota is directing the film at the renowned Studio 4°C (Tekkonkinkreet, Children of the Sea). The source material is the eponymous picture book created by Akihiro Nishino, who is credited for the film’s story and screenplay, and also serving as executive producer. Check out the teaser and read the official synopsis below:
Poupelle of Chimney Town tells the story of young Lubicchi living among the thick smoke from the chimneys of his isolated town. Lubicchi yearns to see the stars and blue sky his father always told him about, and one fateful Halloween night he meets Poupelle, made of rubbish and scraps stuck to a wayward heart.
After shooting to fame in Japan as a comedian and media personality, Nishino taught himself how to draw, and published the first of many children’s picture books in 2009. For Poupelle, he hired 33 different artists to produce the illustrations, crowdfunding the budget. The book has sold over 400,000 copies, despite being available online for free (including in English).
Nishino says his pivot to children’s books is a means to find a “more global” audience, and has vowed to “outdo Disney.” In an interview posted to the film’s website, he elaborates: “When you say, ‘I’m going to outdo or beat Disney,’ people are like, ‘Do you have a grudge?’ I don’t at all — I love Disney … [But] I want to properly take on the champion, the king.”
True to the Disney model, Nishino is even getting invested in musicals. A stage adaptation of Poupelle is due to open off-Broadway — at least, that was the pre-pandemic plan. Whatever comes of that, you can’t fault the man’s ambition.