From book to film: Poupelle, on the other side of the sky – Cinéma & Japanime

Eagerly awaited since its announcement at the last Annecy festival, On the other side of the sky marked the spectators thanks to its touching story of friendship between a little chimney sweep and a surprising trash man. Here’s how the youth album that delighted Japan and the world was adapted into an animated film.

Poupelle and the city without skya timeless tale

©Nobi Nobi

It’s Halloween night and the party is in full swing. Everyone is dressed up and indulges in a frenzied farandole before going on a candy hunt. But at the end of the evening, only one did not remove his disguise. This is the trash man, landed from the nearby dump. But in the Ville-Chimney, it is not good to be different. Chased by the children, he is picked up by Lubicchi, a little chimney sweep wearing a top hat. After washing this strange being, he gives it a name, Poupelle d’Halloween and tells it of his dream: to see the stars, beyond the smoke from the chimneys.

Over the pages, their friendship will grow, despite the wickedness of Antonio’s gang and the ambient mistrust. Alone and apart in this hostile city, Lubicchi and Poupelle understand each other and they find in each other the comfort they lack. But even the most beautiful friendships have their storms and, secretly in words louder than the other, the two friends will move away… It will be necessary to wait for one to stretch out his hand again towards his friend, and the truth about the existence of Poupelle and the family past of Lubicchi will finally be revealed.

Created by Akihiro NISHINOjack-of-all-trades artist and important figure on the Japanese scene, Poupelle and the city without sky was a major success upon its release in 2016, addressing the notions of friendship, the realization of one’s dreams despite adversity and an infallible family bond even in mourning, with a narration that is certainly a bit classic but which has found its audience. .

Most remarkable are the illustrations. If some are the work of Nishino and his studio MugenUpthe most abundant, those comprising the most details of the city-chimney are the work of MUNASHICHIof which we know in France the work on Aurora Chasers (published by Nobi Nobi in France). Credited as the main illustrator, the artist shows the architecture of the city in all its complexity, surrounded by lighting that never goes out because of the smoke. A veritable labyrinth in which it is easy to get lost and yet one never tires of contemplating.

Image taken from the book, we see Poupelle, being made up of trash, who teases Lubicchi, a little boy with short hair and buck teeth

©Akihiro Nishino

On the other side of the sky : stars and smoke

It does not take more for the director Yusuke HIROTA and the studio 4°C are entrusted with the direction of the film which will be released in 2020, and will be equally acclaimed by the Japanese public and critics. The adaptation even wins the 44th Japan Academy Film Prize animation category, front Demon Slayer: Infinity Train and Violet Evergarden. The lore of the original tale expands and new characters appear. Alongside the story of Poupelle and Lubicchi, the film tells us about the third protagonist: the city.

The Other Side of Heaven poster

©Art House

Faithfully respecting the detailed drawings of Munashichi, the city still welcomes Poupelle and his friendly relationship with the little chimney sweep. But now we know why it is described as isolated from the rest of the world and constantly under smoke, and why mistrust reigns there permanently.

The film is now adorned with a new reading, adults like Lubbichi’s parents or the guild of chimney sweeps for which he works, flesh out the story of the Chimney Town. Mandated by the prince, the Inquisitors, who roam the streets in search of the slightest anomaly or disturbance to public order, give him a past, strict rules and a future as dark as the smoke floating in the sky. We quickly understand that its existence is based on an idea that started with good intentions and turned very, very badly, turning into an implacable dictatorship that muzzles its opponents and keeps the inhabitants in fear of acting, transforming them or their children, into monsters of intolerance.

Despite the interest brought by the narration at the adult level, this addition may seem “too much” compared to the original story that it greatly modifies. One might wonder if Nishino, now in the production of the film, did not treat his book more like a transmedia work rather than as material to be adapted. These script changes are not without interest, however, and make the end of the story more gripping, changing it into a philosophical tale about the search for meaning, dreams and freedom, and the ability to think by and for oneself. himself, for his good and that of others.

Visually, the film is superb, the oppressive and dizzying atmosphere of a city that is nevertheless luminous is shown from all angles. It has its true moments of poetry, redemption and happiness, the director having taken a palpable pleasure in finding creative and spectacular stagings, making lucid use of 3D, accompanying them with a very pleasant jazzy soundtrack. On the dubbing side, it’s an impressive cast that puts its voice at the service of the story, both in Japan and in France. We are thus entitled to Philippe Katerine to interpret the man-trash for the French version.

Despite some narrative weaknesses, the album as much as the film offers thrilling and moving moments, rather recommended for children from 7 years old accompanied by adults for the somewhat complicated passages. It has fully deserved its success and bodes well for the future of its director.