Category Archives: Animation Studios

BELLE – Exclusive Special Release Interview with Kylie McNeil

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This week saw the release of the much anticipated BELLE, Mamoru Hosoda’s 7th feature film. The film instantly made headlines at Cannes with a 14-minute standing ovation. The film later made headlines among anime fans during its theatrical release back in January of this year. Both the original Japanese and the newly dubbed English version were shown in theaters nation-wide. In the film’s U.S. opening weekend it made $1.6 million from 1,326 theaters, and a total of $1.8 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Day holiday frame.

The film received five Annie Award nominations making it the most nominations for a Japanese anime film ever at the show, even surpassing previous films Spirited Away, Millennium Actress, and the more recent, Weathering with You. Most notable, the film’s cast, both in English and Japanese, were both praise for their vocal performance. This is both Kaho Nakamura and Kylie McNeil’s first anime, voice over performance.

Kylie McNeil, already an upcoming actor and singer in the theater scene in New York, had zero film credits, aside from an off-Broadway show “Runaways“, BELLE is Kylie’s very first film credit.

After its theatrical run, fans anticipated its home video release, which finally happened on May 17th. Coinciding with the Blu-ray and the Target exclusive: Steelbook release, Milan Records opened preorders for the vinyl copy of BELLE’s soundtrack, and is currently available to pre-order on Amazon.

Join us in celebration of Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE release with this special interview with the voice of Suzu / BELLE, Kylie McNeil! Back for a more in-depth and formal interview, Kylie walks through her experiences working behind the mic, voicing Suzu / BELLE.

Watch our interview above and learn how you could win our exclusive BELLE Bundle, which includes:

The BELLE movie (Steelbook ed.), A copy of the BELLE soundtrack (from Japan) & an autograph print from Paul Castro Jr. (the voice of BEAST)

all this and more in our exclusive interview! Don’t forget to subscribe for more anime and voice actor content or subscribe to our site:

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Takayuki Hirao’s POMPO THE CINEPHILE Coming to Theaters Soon!

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GKIDS and Fathom Events continue their partnership into 2022 with the release of Pompo The Cinephile feature film on April 27 and 28. POMPO THE CINEPHILE will play in select cinemas nationwide on Wednesday, April 27th (Japanese ver) and Thursday, April 28th (English dubbed).

In addition to the full feature, audiences will view a special introduction from director Takayuki Hirao, exclusive to the Fathom Events screenings. Fan preview events will be followed by a limited theatrical release in select markets nationwide by GKIDS starting April 29th.

Known for God Eater (Anime seires) & The Garden of Sinners, Takayuki Hirao returns to the director’s chair with production from the all-new studio CLAP. POMPO THE CINEPHILE was domestically released on June 4, 2021, and swiftly became an indie hit.

The film is an adaptation of Shogo Sugitani’s manga of the same name. The series was published on pixiv Comic website and later, collected in six tankōbon volumes. In July 2018, Sugitani release a spin off titled Fran: The Cinéphile (映画大好きフランちゃん, Eiga Daisuki Fran-chan.

SYNOPSIS

Pompo is a talented and gutsy producer in “Nyallywood,” the movie-making capital of the world. Although she’s known for B-movies, one day Pompo tells her movie-loving but apprehensive assistant Gene that he will direct her next script: a delicate drama about an aging and tormented creative genius, starring the legendary and Brando-esque actor Martin Braddock, and a young actress seeking her first break. But when the production heads towards chaos, can Gene rise to Pompo’s challenge, and succeed as a first-time director?

Pompo the Cinephile is a rollicking, exuberant ode to the power of the movies, and the joys and heartbreak of the creative process, as a new director and his team devote their lives to the pursuit of a “masterpiece.”

Tickets are currently on sale at FathomEvents.com, PompoMovie.com and participating theater box offices. English cast is as follows:

We have an upcoming interview with director Takayuki Hirao soon, stay tuned!

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Yui Makino’s Digital Single “Touch of Hope” is Out Now! New Album Planned for 2022

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Today musical artist , Yui Makino released her new digital single Touch of Hope.”

Touch of Hope” is the theme song to The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, a feature-length animation based on a Japanese manga series by Nagabe that was completed in March last year.

The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún is a story of a little girl named who was abandon in a forest with strange beasts. One day she befriends one of these beast, one who seems to be nicer than the rest, and proceeds to call him “Teacher”. Together they embark on journey to find more about Shiva’s background, while “Teacher” serves as a guardian and protector. Their bond seems to transcend their incompatible natures, becoming a folktale of two outcasts -one human, one inhuman- who linger in the hazy twilight that separates night from day.

The subtitle in the title, “Siúil, a Rún” is a reference to a traditional Irish song, which is sung in the point of view of a woman lamenting a lover who has embarked on a military career, and indicating her willingness to support him. “Touch of Hope pays homage to the traditional Irish song by singing some of its original lyrics.

The Girl from the Other Side was released in 2019 as a short 10 minute, art animation and was highly acclaimed at national and international film festivals.

In March 10th 2022, A feature-length animation was produced and released by Wit Studio and directed by Yutaro Kubo and Satomi Maiya set to be released with the manga’s bonus volume.

To fund this production, Wit Studio held a crowdfunding campaign from March to May last year, and the target amount of 3 million yen was achieved in just four hours. In the end, the campaign raised over 20 million yen from 1,418 users.

“Where else can I hear Yui Makino?”

You may be surprised to learn that Makino made her voice acting debut in April 2005 as Sakura, the heroine of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, an anime based on an original story by CLAMP. At the same time, she made her pre-debut singing “Omna Magni,” the ending theme for Genesis of Aquarion produced by Yoko Kanno.

Later that same year, she released “Amrita,” the theme song of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom.. Since then, she has voiced many anime characters and worked on many anime tie-up songs, demonstrating her diverse talents as a voice actress, singer, and pianist.

In August 2021, she released a Blu-ray version of Yui Makino Live Concert Five6three7, her 15th anniversary concert held in April (released and distributed by Amuse), and in December, she released the single “Espero,” the theme song of ARIA The BENEDIZIONE.

Yui Makino will be releasing a new album in 2022 under the FlyingDog label. More information will be released at a later date, so please keep your eye on Yui!

To find more information on Yui Makino visit her Official Website or follow her on Twitter

BELLE | Should You Watch It?

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Mamoru Hosoda at Animation Is Film Festival 2021

Known for his emotionally touching and visually captivating films, such as Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and Summer Wars, award-winning film director Mamoru Hosoda is back with his ninth film, BELLE.

Now playing in theaters, Belle is a modern adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast and could be considered a spiritual sequel to Hosoda’s 2009 film, Summer Wars, as it also deals with a virtual world.

Synopsis

The film starts with Suzu Naito (Voiced by Kylie McNeill), a shy 17-year old high school student living with her father (Voiced by Ben Lepley). She lives haunted by the memory of her mother’s death at a young age. Since then, Suzu has been living in her shadow, having almost no close connections and no self confidence. At least, until one day, with the help of her one close friend Hiroka Betsuyaku (Voiced by Jessica DiCicco), she discovers the online virtual world of ‘U‘ where over 5 billion users log on daily. When Suzu logs in for the first time, U automatically creates a beautiful, freckled, pink-haired avatar based on her biometrics, and she nicknames herself “Bell” (鈴 = Suzu is Japanese for Bell).

Suzu logging into U for the first time. Bimetic readers in her ear.

Enjoying her newfound life in anonymity; Suzu, using her voice and overcoming her trauma, develops Bell into a world-famous singer among U. Rapidly gaining popularity, Suzu holds events and concerts as Bell in U, and fans come to dub her as ‘Belle‘ (French for “Beautiful”) However, during one of Belle’s online concerts, she is interrupted by an avatar named only as “The Dragon” (Voiced by Paul Castro Jr).

“The Dragon” avater appears for the first time, during BELLE’s concert.

Intrigued, Suzu & Hiro embark on a journey to discover the person behind The Dragon. Along the way, Suzu realizes the real power of being anonymous online and the many reasons why people like her escape to U from their own lives. 

What type of story is BELLE?

The film seems to be confused about what type of story it wants to tell; whether it is an action-adventure story, as Suzu begins to discover the virtual world of U as Bell, or a romantic story, as the plot depicts the ‘forbidden’ nature in the relationship between Bell and The Dragon and Suzu’s determination to help The Dragon. One thing is for sure, the film is a musical feature. Unlike a Disney film, where characters spontaneously spring into a musical number often without warning, the film does a great job in coordinating the music with the imagery that’s on screen.

“Lend Me Your Voice”

The film touches on several sensitive topics and themes, such as overcoming personal trauma. The film successfully portrays one’s desire to escape real situations for a glamorous, anonymous lifestyle; a secret, secondary life where real-life issues are nonexistent. Additionally, many viewers find themselves connected to the main character as the film dives into the psychological impact of dealing with a personal loss and its effects on a person’s daily life. 

The Music

The music in this film is captivating and leaves the viewers in astonishment, undoubtedly worthy of a 14-minute standing ovation. Kaho Nakumora (Suzu/Belle in Japanese) and Kylie McNeill’s vocal performances are phenomenal and are presented with a profusion of emotional appeal. Kylie’s vocals perfectly embody Kaho’s performance as BELLE and, with Ludvig Forssell’s creative songwriting skills alongside Mamoru Hosoda and actress Kaho Nakumora, make exquisite lyrics. 

BELLE sings “Gale of Songs” as she enters U for the first time.

“Should I Watch it?”

Though the film may contain some unnecessary subplots, it makes up for its visual presentation and musical and vocal performances. The film portrays Suzu with relatable qualities that speak to the viewer, whether you have experienced personal loss or not. If the above mentioned is not convincing enough to watch BELLE in theaters, consider that this film was worthy of a 14-minute standing ovation during the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Perhaps cast members, Kylie Mcneill and Paul Castro Jr can convince you through our exclusive interviews. Watch as Kylie & Paul share behind the scene stories and their experiences working on BELLE.

Interview With Kylie McNeill

Interview With Paul Castro Jr

We also included a brief Interview with Mamoru Hosoda we conducted during the 2021 Animation Is Film Festival in Hollywood, CA.

Watch BELLE In Theaters!

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Watch BELLE the newest movie by award-winning filmmaker, Mamoru Hosoda (Mirai, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and more), comes a fantastical, heartfelt story of growing up in the age of social media.

Suzu is a shy, everyday high school student living in a rural village. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters “U”, a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a gorgeous and globally-beloved singer. One day, her concert is interrupted by a monstrous creature chased by vigilantes. As their hunt escalates, Suzu embarks on an emotional and epic quest to uncover the identity of this mysterious “beast” and to discover her true self in a world where you can be anyone.

Subtitled Trailer

English Dub Trailer

The Cast

You can watch Belle in theaters and IMAX in both Japanese and English starting January 14, 2022, get your ticket now!

Highschool Of The Dead Returns?! (Not really, but…)

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Though there are NO official plans to bring HOTD back, the series has been trending among fans due to the newly released version of the High School of The Dead theme song of the same name.

Music art for “High School Of The Dead” 2010 (Left) and 2021 (Right)

The song is performed by Jrock band, Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets with vocals by lead vocalist Ichigo. Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets began as a one-man Doujin music band (Fan made/inspired music) created by Kishida Kyoudan. Kishida initially produced covers songs from various series, mainly from Touhou Project and Type-Moon series. From 2007 through 2010, more members joined the band; Ichigo, Hayapi (guitar) & Micchan (drums).

Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets: Kishida, Micchan, Ichigo & Hayapi

In 2010, Under the NBCUniversal Entertainment label (then known as Geneon Universal), they eventually made their major debut with their single “Highschool of the Dead” which was used as the opening theme to High School Of The Dead anime series. Three years later, on October 30th, 2013, their single “Strike the Blood” was used as the opening theme to the anime series Strike the Blood.

Strike the Blood anime

In 2013, the band went on to a different label, and with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the band then went on to release numerous singles and albums which were used in various anime series, including GATE (2nd season, Op theme), Alderamin on the Sky (Op theme), and A Certain Scientific Railgun T (ED theme).

On August 18, 2021, the band released the newly re-recorded version of their 2010 hit single, “High School Of The Dead [2021]“. In addition, the band’s official YouTube channel released the official High School Of The Dead theme song music video, 11 years after the original release.

When the HOTD theme song was released in 2010, it never had a music video to go along with it, nor was it ever featured in any of the band’s albums. The band has recently released a compilation album titled Isekaitensei Shitara Best Album Deshita.

Isekaitensei Shitara Best Album Deshita features all their anime singles and the newly re-recorded HOTD theme song. The album comes in two versions: the regular edition and the limited edition.

The Regular edition contains two CDs of Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets’ best anime singles, including “High School of Dead[2021]”. The limited edition includes the entire album in two CDs, a 48-page band member interview booklet, a Blu-ray containing HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD [2021] MUSIC VIDEO, and “Kishida Kyodan & THE Akeboshi Rockets Live Video held on November 11, 2020. HOTD 2021 art is a homage to High School of The Dead and shows the character Saya Takagi.

You can purchase the album here [REGULAR VERISON] | [LIMITED EDITION] or Stream HERE.

Patrick Imbert’s ‘The Summit of The Gods’ premieres at Animation is Film Festival 2021

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The newest adaptation of Jiro Taniguchi’s manga, The summit of Gods had a special screening at the Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood on October 22nd. initially announced in 2015, the film went through different creative hands before it made its way to award-winning, French animator, Patrick Imbert in 2020.

The Summit of the Gods revolves around two hikers, Makoto Fukamachi, a young Japanese reporter, and a mysterious mountain climber named Habu Joji. Fukamachi believes, Habu is in possession of George Mallory’s camera.

George Mallory is a mountain climber who, along with Andrew Irvine, attempted to climb Mount Everest in 1924 and were never seen again. The camera might reveal if Mallory and his companion really were the first to climb Everest. 27 years later, Fukamachi and Habu find themselves, cooperating to climb to the peak of Mount Everest.

Imbert is known for his work in Ernest et Célestine, April and the Extraordinary World, and his award-winning film, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.

Patrick Imbert at Animation is Film Festival 2021

Using 2D animation and produced by Folivari and Mélusine Productions, Patrick Imbert’s The Summit of The Gods has been praised for his realistic animation of the iconic Mount Everest.

The film is based on the manga of the same, written and illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi, itself is an adaptation of Baku Yumemakura’s 1998 novel of the same name. Yumemakura’s work has had various adaptations, including a live-action version, starring Junichi Okada, which was released on March 12, 2016. The live-action version was directed by Hideyuki Hirayama (known for, School Ghost Stories).

During the Animation is Film Festival 2021, we had the opportunity to speak with film director Patrick Imbert:

Netflix will air the film in theaters in the United States starting on November 24, 2021, and will start streaming the film on November 30, 2021.

Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE At Animation Is Film Fest 2021

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For the first time, outside Japan, Mamoru Hosoda’s newest film BELLE had a chance to capture western audiences’ hearts during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood!

In 1999, Mamoru Hosoda began his journey with Dejimon Adobenchā (Digimon Adventure) as his first anime directorial debut; since then, Hosoda has developed this craft and quickly became one of Japan’s most predominant figures in Japanese animation. In 2011, Hosoda founded his own animation studio, Studio Chizu.

Photo by AIF | John Salangsang

Hosoda developed his own unique and highly influential animation style, which can be seen and felt throughout his work. His works are heartfelt, beautifully animated films and convey a sympathetic aesthetic element, often relatable. In 2019, his adventure fantasy comedy film, MIRAI, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. His most recent film, BELLE, premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a 14-minute standing ovation.

Mamoru Hosoda at Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood, CA

In BELLE, Hosoda visually transforms the internet, as the popular virtual world known as ‘U’. In a plot where characters face personal turmoil, isolation, a sense of belongingness, and the need to pretend to be someone else, Hosoda effectively exploits the ability to remain anonymous online and how anonymity can have its benefits and disadvantages on its users.

We had the opportunity to briefly speak with Hosoda during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 regarding his newest work and his thoughts on MIRAI’s Oscar nomination:

*The video below may contain SPOILERS* After the screening, Hosoda addressed the audience members and answered fan questions:

The film pays homage to Beauty and The Beast (specifically Disney’s version) and is composed of tantalizing visual animation with extraordinary, captivating music tracks. In addition, Hosoda mentioned working with veteran Disney animator Jin Kim as Belle’s lead character designer earlier this year. (Below are some of Kim’s BELLE concept Sketches).

One of many scenes in which the ‘ Beauty and The Beast‘ elements can be seen
Jin Kim (김상진)

Kim has worked for Disney since 1995 and is credited in over 30 Disney titles including, Zootpia, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and his most recent work Raya and the Last Dragon. Adding to Kim’s involvement, Studio Chizu also teamed up with Irish animation studio Cartoon Salon to produce the background art for the popular virtual world, ‘U’.

Get ready to dive into the beautiful world of U and watch BELLE this spring! Gkids is set to release BELLE in theaters on January 14th, 2022. For more information, visit GKids.com.

MIRACULOUS LADYBUG HOUR LONG TV SPEICAL! – United Heroez

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Zag Animation recently announced a 52 minute Miraculous Ladybug special, which is set to release this Friday!

Zag Animation studio CEO, Jeremy Zag hinted the project back in 2016, stating a possible cross-over between Ladybug and two other Zag Animation properties, Pixie Girl and Ghostforce, two series that have yet to see the light of day. Will these characters be introduced in this special? highly unlikely, but the special will feature a group of super-powered individuals, never before seen.

Friends or Foes?

The special will also feature the series’ protagonists, Marinette Cheng & Adrien Agreste flying to the United States (hence the title, United Heroez) for the first time. Although this special is nearly an hour long, it is not to be confused with the Ladybug & Cat Noir Awakening movie, slated to be released in 2021.

Watch the trailer below:

Want more Ladybug? check out these awesome interviews we’ve done over the course of Miraculous Ladybug episodes:

Interview with the voice of Marinette Cheng, Cristina Vee

Interview with Ezra Weisz, Miraculous Ladybug Voice Director

Interview with Kagami Tsurugi, Faye Mata

Interview with the voice of Zag Animation Studio producer, Jared Wolfenson

A24 Checks in at The Hazbin Hotel

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New York based film distributor and TV production company, A24 has announced on Friday that it will be picking up Vivienne Medrano’s The Hazbin Hotel for a full television series.

A24 has produced critically acclaimed films such as Room staring Brie Larson and The Disaster Artist staring James Franco. A24 has also produced numerous hit comedy series such as 2 Dope Queens, and Eric Andre: Legalize Everything.

A24 have not release anymore information regarding the show’s production nor its estimated release date.

3 months before the pilot episode was officially released, we had the honor of speaking with Hazbin Hotel creator Vivienne Medrano during Anime Expo 2019 regarding the show’s characters, merchandise and its future, watch below:

We would like to congratulate Vivienne Medrano and her team for their hard work and well deserved, upcoming TV series. We hope that Hazbin Hotel keeps on developing into more than a TV series (Maybe a film?) and wish her and her team the best.