Interview with Yusuke Hirota, Director of Poupelle of Chimney Town

What do you do when you’re told that you’re stupid for chasing after your dreams and breaking the mold? Do you give up, or do you chase harder? Animated film Poupelle of Chimney Town follows young Lubicchi who seeks to see the stars his father, Bruno, said exists beyond the thick layer of black smoke looming over his hometown, despite the naysayers. With the help of his new friend Poupelle, who is a living, breathing, talking man made of garbage, Lubicchi sets out to prove to the townspeople that his dreams are actually reality. On the way to the stars, he meets new and unique people and uncovers the truth of the past for his family.

From incredibly detailed 3D CGI animation to intriguing characters and a meaningful story, Poupelle of Chimney Town is an enticing film. The art style and switches in perspective from scene to scene perfectly match the atmosphere of each moment, immersing viewers into Lubicchi’s journey. As the young protagonist faces difficulties such as loss, betrayal, and despair on his adventure, the film showcases the ups and downs of life and that intention does not guarantee outcome. With much to ponder after viewing the film, Asia Pacific Arts spoke with director Yusuke Hirota about the movie and its creation process.

Despite the pandemic affecting nine months of production and the whole crew experiencing burnout once the film was completed, Hirota and the team were ultimately satisfied with all the effort they put into the movie. Working remotely brought about some communication challenges, but with all the work already created in 3D CG format, the team was able to work efficiently.

Originally a CGI director for Studio 4°C, Hirota experienced a huge transition when making his directorial debut with Poupelle of Chimney Town: “As a CGI artist, your job is to just focus on one thing, like a pinpoint, whereas as director, you need to oversee everything.” Prior to signing on to the project, Hirota admitted he was not entirely familiar with the story of Lubicchi and Poupelle and had only seen the key visual in the storybook cover previously. Hirota mentioned that, almost like it was meant to be, his wife had also seen the storybook in stores before, and had mentioned in passing that creator Akihiro Nishino’s art style is similar to those of Studio 4°C.

Referencing both the original storybook and previous works of Studio 4°C, both Hirota and Nishino wanted this film to maintain the signature style of the studio. With a background in CGI, the director had much to do with the changes in art style throughout the film, simply wanting to “make really fun scenes that even kids would be able to watch and enjoy.” Given his own perspective as a father, Hirota came to the conclusion that his favorite parts of the film were scenes of Lubicchi with his father, Bruno. As a parent himself, the bond between the two reminded him of himself and his child, which made him particularly fond of certain flashback scenes for letting him reminisce on his own family and how it relates to his own life.

Inspired by Nishino’s passion, Hirota felt that he learned something from him every single time he saw him. Hirota felt like he always wanted to do more for Nishino, always wanting to do his very best for him, and would absolutely work with Nishino again in the future.

Poupelle of Chimney Town is coming to U.S. theaters starting December 30th, subtitled and dubbed in English.

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