Whilst those of us in the West were brought up on a diet of Disney (and for younger generations, Pixar and Dreamworks), the experience was very different to that in the East. Over the last couple of decades, Studio Ghibli has taken its rightful place next to mouse industries as the best in the world. The prevalence of Manga in Japan has led to a far higher animated output than anywhere else. Poupelle of Chimney Town is another example of the sheer depth within the industry.
Chimney Town is shrouded in perpetual greys. The huge stacks spew out smoke and ash which envelop the citizens in a constant pall. No one holds out any hope that anything else is out there anymore. Except Bruno (Shinosuke Tatekawa), a tailor, who tells anyone who will listen tales of a sky full of stars. His sudden disappearance leaves his son Lubicchi (Mana Ashida) bereft. That is until the lonely chimney sweep meets Poupelle (Masataka Kubota), a benign monster made out of garbage.
Poupelle of Chimney Town has all the elements of the best fantasy animations but doesn’t really have the originality to single it out. The concept is a fascinating one, with obvious environmental undertones, but much of the world-building feels a little undercooked. As do some of the visuals in Yuusuke Hirota’s new film. It’s entertaining enough but doesn’t really linger long after the credits roll. Whilst not setting the world alight, Poupelle of Chimney Town is an enjoyable journey.
Poupelle of Chimney Town screens at IFFR.