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If you love Studio Ghibli, you need to watch this new Netflix movie

Published Jul 8th, 2024 3:27PM EDT
The Imaginary is now streaming on Netflix.
Image: Studio Ponoc

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One reason I didn’t cancel my Max subscription after Warner Bros. Discovery started removing original shows and movies is the streamer’s complete collection of Studio Ghibli movies. I can’t stream Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, or Kiki’s Delivery Service anywhere else, so I’ll stick with Max for now. Meanwhile, Netflix has been building up its own library of animated films from Studio Ponoc, founded by a former Studio Ghibli producer. Ponoc’s latest film is The Imaginary, and based on early reviews, it’s one of Netflix’s best movies of 2024.

Studio Ponoc was founded in 2015 by Yoshiaki Nishimura, former lead film producer for Studio Ghibli. The studio’s first feature film was Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which came out in 2017. In 2018, the studio released a short film anthology called Modest Heroes, and in 2023, Studio Ponoc premiered in second feature film, The Imaginary.

Netflix announced that it acquired the international streaming rights to the movie in January, and now, months later, you can finally stream the movie at home:

According to the synopsis provided by Netflix, 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.”

As of Monday, The Imaginary has an impressive 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising the movie’s impressive visuals and touching narrative. Though it might not stand up to some of Ghibli’s most exceptional works, it’s still a worthwhile watch.

The New York Times calls The Imaginary “a work of such rich magical realism and heart,” and writes that “a single frame of The Imaginary can outshine the mass-produced, visually uninspired animation” in recent American animated movies. Paste Magazine adds that the movie “can also take pride in having absolutely scooped budding auteur John Krasinski,” referencing his new movie IF (which has a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes).

After you are done watching The Imaginary, you can also stream Studio Ponoc’s Mary and the Witch’s Flower as well as Modest Heroes on Netflix.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.