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The Imaginary’s Terrifying Villain Explained

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In the world of “The Imaginary,” Mr. Bunting is something of a boogeyman for imaginary friends, a myth about a monster that literally eats imaginary friends because he doesn’t have an imagination of his own anymore. He’s kind of a cross between the titular heron from Miyazaki’s “The Boy and The Heron” and King’s Pennywise the Clown from “It,” meaning once he gets close, he reveals a second form that’s much scarier and menacing. When Mr. Bunting goes for the attack and tries to kill Rudger, he opens his mouth wider than any living being should be able to do, his gullet expanding to infinity while the screams of imaginary friends can be heard deep inside him. 

Though he works perfectly as a villain with the vaguest of backstories, it is fascinating to see how much thought Nishimura added to Bunting’s backstory independently from the original novel by A. F. Harrold and illustrated by Emily Gravett, especially since it ultimately went unseen. “He’s somebody who has lived for a long time, around 300 years or so, and I think he represents those who have experienced great loss over a period of time,” the writer said. 

According to Nishimura, Bunting was “robbed of something that he really valued by his parents” and that’s part of why he became who he is in the film. He is the worst-case scenario for a kid with imagination, and he represents what would happen if Amanda never loses Rudger going forward, if she clings onto his imaginary friend and doesn’t let go. Indeed, in the film, we learn that Bunting wants to continue seeing his own imaginary friend, and to do so he will consume other imaginary friends, much like Pennywise hunting kids.



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