"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Toei Animation’s Bold Plans for 2015 & Beyond!

ガイキングと東映アニメーション 新たなCGプロジェクト複数企画

DVD jacket for the original GAIKING television series from 1976.

SCOOP: With the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2015, Toei Animation made its full-year announced its financial results, while strategies for the company’s medium-to-long-term plans were revealed on May 19th to the press. Concerning their plans for in-house production, they’re suggesting that CG animation will be the emphasis as the impetuous in the decade to come.

Poster for the robot sci-fi film, EXPELLED FROM PARADISE (2014).

In 2014, the smashing success of Seiji Mizushima's animated sci-fi feature, EXPELLED FROM PARADISE (Rakuen Tsuiho), attracted much attention, and is leading Toei Animation in their current planning of original CG projects to follow. While specific titles and content were not revealed, it was intimated that the studio would like to continue using the success of EXPELLED FROM PARADISE as their model in an ongoing basis. The film was screened in 15 select theaters in the United States by Aniplex USA on December 13, 2014.

Poster for Shinji Aramaki's retelling of CAPTAIN HARLOCK (2013).

Therefore, the expansion of  bigger budgeted theatrical CG animated features is also in progress, developing from the foundation of Shinji Aramaki’s CAPTIAN HARLOCK (Kyaputen Harokku, 2013; also making the rounds in select US theaters and currently available on Netflix) and Keiichi Sato’s SAINT SEIYA: LEGEND OF SANCTUARY (Seinto Seiya Rejendo Obu Sankuchuari, 2014). Currently, Toei Animation has the longest history of domestic production in Japan, and they're making it known that they aim to move towards the future in the planning and execution of CG animation productions.

Poster for Keiichi Sato's SAINT SEIYA: LEGACY OF SANCTUARY (2014).

Progress is being forged with yet another original animated film, FILE (N): PROJECT PQ, directed by Naoki Miyahara, to be released around Spring 2016. Early promotion has already launched a dedicated page on the “Yahoo! Kids” portal site (in conjunction with Yahoo! Japan), featuring a series of promotion video “dance lessons.” The theme of the film is work through dance, as a “youth dance movie,” in a story of five attractive girls coming of age.

Art for Naoki Miyahara's upcoming FILE (N): PROJECT PQ (2016).

Also equally emphasized by Toei Animation is GAIKING. Announced several years ago as a live action feature film coproduced with Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Entertainment (producers of “The Walking Dead”) and ANEW (All Nippon Entertainment Works). While progress on development is still actively moving forwards, Toei Animation hinted that in addition to GAIKING, multiple (Super Robot) titles are being planned for production, and it’s very likely that a surprise announcement will be made, regarding this, in the near future.

Toei Animation's mascot from Kimio Yabuki's PUSS 'N BOOTS (1969).

Toei Animation will continue with a call for investment from creators and outside studios to support their future planning and production. Now, Toei Animation’s Oizumi Studio is undergoing renovations, with the completion date set for summer 2017. Meanwhile, the studio's research and development teams are pushing ahead in expansion of rendering technology, including assessing the feasibility in producing an CG animated television series.

In supporting the development of young creators, Toei Animation claims that they are enriching and improving the production process. Specifically, in the creation of pilot films that will improve the chances of becoming hit productions.

(Translated from the May 19, 2015 Anime! Anime! Business story.)