Modest Heroes Review



Jaden Morgan, Senior Editor, Anchor, Reporter

Anime, like many mediums is an up-and-down artform, in terms of output; you can get an enveloping, Little Mermaid-like tale of an animal having to choose between the desire to become like humans, and the consequences of that actually happening (Ponyo), or you can get creepy grown animators stalking a little girl they have a crush on, and sexualizing her in their work, without her knowledge or consent (Kirby: Right Back at Ya!-Tooned Out)… That’s the actual plot to an episode of the Kirby anime. Studio and network in Japan, ran that idea through the whole production process and probably even took some stuff out, to make that “better”, and never realized how cursed that whole thing is… But anyways, Studio Ponoc’s “Modest Heroes” is definitely planted high up on the hill. There’s so much interesting and good stuff to look at with this film, like its anthology format, that it’s almost hard to decide what the focus of a review about it should be, but I resolve that what needs to be highlighted is one of the most important aspects; the direction of this film. 

This film was directed masterfully, in collaboration with producer to filmmakers to composers to employees and crew, to mesh together 3 wildly different stories, and keep the artistic vision cohesive, is a feat I was pleasantly impressed with while watching this movie. A lot of noticeable details track throughout each segment, and make it feel like one movie when it’s all separate short films, and viewers will love to catch it. Backgrounds stay in the background, and the focus is on the characters and foreground objects, with faint outlines that make them subtly pop out of the environment. The score blends well with the mood of the scenes. Stories are presented rather than told because the filmmakers understand that the audience is watching a movie and not reading an audiobook. Back on the visuals, the landscapes are still spared great attention even if they are only the backgrounds to the action happening on screen. The stories are rich explorations of courage, love, selflessness & integrity. All of them have interesting concepts like anthropomorphized crabs go on a dangerous journey to find their father swept away in a strong underwater current so they aren’t left alone; a boy with a lethal, very sensitive allergy to eggs tries to live a normal life in spite of his condition and eventually decides to try and get better control of his condition; and an invisible salesman, even losing his physical permanence, meets a similar citizen in town, and then performs a heroic act. Almost everything about this movie is airtight perfection.

In mentioning that, yes, there are very minor criticisms to be made of the movie, that get overwhelmed by how good everything else about it is, but, because they are the glaring slip-ups, they do stand out a bit and viewers might score the movie a bit lower because of them; the big thing is how certain things are not very clearly explained, like, what the significance of the fairy wing is to the crabs or why invisibility actually makes the salesman lose his physical permanence; it’s a bit like arbitrary fantasy stuff just to have the stories go how the stories go, but still, oversights like this are easily ignored, because everything else is just so excellent.

So, with all of that said, in succinct summation, the movie… is very good.