THE IMAGINARY Review – A Mesmerizing Hand-Drawn Masterpiece

THE IMAGINARY is a hand-drawn masterpiece with some serious weight
Netflix The Imaginary Review

The Imaginary from Studio Ponoc is a breathtaking testament to the beauty and power of hand-drawn animation. Directed by the renowned Yoshiyuki Momose, this film not only dazzles with its gorgeous design and vibrant colors but also captivates with a grounded feel that draws audiences into its gripping and heartwarming story. It’s a film that balances heavy themes with a magical narrative, making it a standout in the animated genre.

A Visual and Emotional Feast

Netflix The Imaginary Review

The animation in The Imaginary is nothing short of spectacular. The meticulous hand-drawn technique gives the film a nostalgic yet refreshingly modern aesthetic. The design and color palette are visually stunning, creating a world that feels both fantastical and grounded. This visual splendor enhances the storytelling, making the journey through Amanda’s and Rudger’s world deeply immersive.

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The film’s grounded feel is one of its most compelling aspects. Despite the whimsical premise of imaginary friends coming to life, the animation’s tangible texture and the characters’ emotional depth make the narrative relatable and impactful. This grounded approach invites viewers to connect with the story on a personal level, ensuring that the film’s emotional beats resonate deeply.

A Heartfelt and Heavy Tale

Netflix The Imaginary Review

The Imaginary tells a gripping and heartwarming story that is refreshingly heavy for the medium. The film doesn’t shy away from exploring serious themes such as loss, fear, and the power of imagination. It tackles these issues head-on, presenting a narrative that is both poignant and appropriate for a general audience. The contrast between the heavy situations and the youthfully imaginative characters and world creates a magical dynamic that drives a tale radiating hope despite the darkness.

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The story’s brilliance lies in its ability to use imaginative elements to convey complex emotions. Concepts like bottled emotions representing repressed feelings and Imagination Land being repurposed to think of possible outcomes are not only visually inventive but also deeply insightful. These elements help audiences navigate their own emotional landscapes, making The Imaginary a powerful tool for emotional understanding and reflection.

Audio That Brings the Video to Life

Netflix The Imaginary Review

The English cast of The Imaginary delivers strong performances that bring the characters to life with heart and authenticity. Kal Penn finds new power in his voice as Zinzan, capturing the character’s essence with nuance and depth. LeVar Burton’s portrayal of The Old Dog is genuinely touching, encapsulating the unwavering love and loyalty a dog has for their human. Jeremy Swift’s Mr. Bunting is chilling, his voice performance adding a layer of horror that heightens the film’s emotional stakes.

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The music in The Imaginary is a crucial component that enhances the film’s emotional and narrative beats. Composed by Kenji Tamai & agehasprings, the score beautifully complements the animation, elevating both the fun and heart-wrenching moments. The main theme song, “Nothing’s Impossible,” performed by A Great Big World featuring Rachel Platten, is particularly moving, encapsulating the film’s core message of hope and resilience.

A Balanced Yet Heavy Narrative

Netflix The Imaginary Review

While The Imaginary is a triumph in many ways, its unexpectedly heavy narrative might catch some viewers off guard. The film respects the maturity of its audience, particularly children, by not shying away from serious themes. This weighty approach, while jarring at times, ultimately enriches the story, making the emotional journey more profound and rewarding.

The only critique is that the heaviness might not be what all viewers expect from an animated film featuring talking cats and a fun, friendly pink hippo. However, this weight is carried with such grace and purpose that it feels well worth the emotional investment. The film trusts its audience to handle the mature themes, resulting in a narrative that is both challenging and deeply satisfying.

A Masterpiece Drawn With a Surprisingly Heavy Hand

The Imaginary is a stunning achievement in hand-drawn animation and storytelling. It combines beautiful visuals, a grounded feel, and a deeply emotional narrative to create a film that is both heartwarming and heavy. With strong performances, particularly from Kal Penn, LeVar Burton, and Jeremy Swift, and a score that elevates the entire experience, The Imaginary stands as a testament to the power of animation to tell profound stories. It’s a film that will leave a lasting impression, encouraging audiences to embrace their imaginations and the emotions that come with them.

My The Imaginary review gets a


The Imaginary releases June 28 exclusively in theaters and July 5 on Netflix.

About The Imaginary

Netflix The Imaginary

Release Date: June 28 in theaters and July 5 on Netflix,
Director: Yoshiyuki Momose (Modest HeroesTomorrow’s Leaves)Screenwriter/Producer:  Yoshiaki Nishimura, Two-time Academy Award nominee (The Tale of The Princess KaguyaWhen Marnie Was There)
Production: Studio Ponoc
Main Theme Song “Nothing’s Impossible” Performed by: A Great Big World featuring Rachel Platten
Cast: Louie Rudge-Buchanan (Rudger), Evie Kiszel (Amanda), Hayley Atwell (Lizzie), Sky Katz (Emily), Jeremy Swift (Mr Bunting), Kal Penn (Zinzan), LeVar Burton (The Old Dog), Jane Singer (Granny Downbeat), Ruby Barnhill (Aurora), Roger Craig Smith (Snowflake), Courtenay Taylor (Cruncher-of-Bones), Miles Nibbe (John)

Studio Ponoc’s The Imaginary portrays the depths of humanity and creativity through the eyes of young Amanda and her imaginary companion, Rudger, a boy no one can see imagined by Amanda to share her thrilling make-believe adventures. But when Rudger, suddenly alone, arrives at The Town of Imaginaries, where forgotten Imaginaries live and find work, he faces a mysterious threat. Directed by renowned animator Yoshiyuki Momose (Spirited Away), The Imaginary is an unforgettable adventure of love, loss, and the healing power of imagination.

Are you ready to embark on an extraordinary journey with Amanda and Rudger? Will you discover the magical world of Imaginaries? How excited are you to see the groundbreaking animation and stellar performances in The Imaginary? Mark your calendars for and prepare to be captivated by this enchanting new film and let us know your thoughts on social media!

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Kevin Fenix

Professional Nerd | Amateur Human | Creative/Content Director The best way to describe Kevin Fenix is the kid you never tell what the buttons do in video games so you have a chance to win. Being 6’ 4” and Asian, he never really fit in, so he got comfortable standing out. Not only is it easy to find him in crowds, he dabbles in the culinary arts, does a little stand up and improv, and can honestly say Spider-Man is the Jesus-like influence of his life. Kevin Fenix loves dogs, movies, television, comics, comedy, and to shoot people… with video.