Category Archives: Animation Studios

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

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?

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!

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…)

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

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

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

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

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.

246948_216945288431291_608876990_n

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.

Ee1ONLNXoAI2q6j

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

ddlj60u-a847fee2-ba0f-41dd-b570-94ba0639ff74

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.

GKIDS ACQUIRES RIGHTS TO STUDIO GHIBLI’S “EARWIG AND THE WITCH” | Director GORO MIYAZAKI

GKIDS, the acclaimed producer and distributor of animation for adult and family audiences, announced that it has acquired the North American distribution rights for legendary animation house Studio Ghibli’s latest feature EARWIG AND THE WITCH.

earwig_poster

The film is directed by Goro Miyazaki (From Up on Poppy Hill, Tales from Earthsea) and produced by studio co-founder Toshio Suzuki, with planning on the feature from his father, Academy Awardâ-winner Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro).

Based on the children’s novel “Earwig and the Witch” by Diana Wynne Jones (“Howl’s Moving Castle”), the film marks Studio Ghibli’s first entirely 3DCG animated feature.

dianawynnejones

The story follows Earwig growing up in an orphanage, who has no idea that her mother had magical powers. Her life will take a new turn when a strange family takes her in, and she is forced to live with a selfish witch. For now, that is all the Gkids has let on about the film.

The film is slated to air on NHK in Japan Winter 2020. GKIDS will release the film theatrically in North America in early 2021. Director Goro Miyazaki has previously commented about the film stating,

Gorō_Miyazaki

“Nowadays, in our country, there are many adults and few children. It must be tough for these children, so few of them having to deal with so many adults. It was while I was thinking about this that I got to know Earwig. And I realized, ‘That’s it!’ How does Earwig deal with the annoying adults? Please watch Earwig and The Witch to find out. She may be cheeky, but I sincerely hope that our adorable Earwig will encourage children and cheer up adults.”

– Goro Miyazaki (2020 GKids Interview)

Dave-Jesteadt-1

“A new Studio Ghibli film is always a cause for celebration for fans around the world,” said GKIDS’ President David Jesteadt. “We are excited to see Goro Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli working in a new animation style, and look forward to sharing the film with audiences early next year.”

– David Jesteadt (GKIDS’ President)

For updates regarding Earwig And The Witch visit, Gkids.com.

In more recent news, Gkids has also announced the English dub cast for the upcoming The Lupin the 3rd: The First film! Click here for more information.

Lupin_Press-Kit_07

GKIDS ANNOUNCES ENGLISH DUB CAST FOR “LUPIN III: THE FIRST”

The Lupin the 3rd franchise created by Monkey Punch began in 1967 and has spanned a variety of manga, TV series, games, a theme park ride, and musical adaptations. It featured acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki in his first feature film debut with The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979.  The Lupin the 3rd: The First is a highly anticipated film that marks the VERY first installment in CGI for the lauded animated franchise. In recent news, the upcoming English language dub film will feature the voices of

Lupin III – Tony Oliver
Daisuke Jigen – Richard Epcar
Goemon Ishikawa – Lex Lang
Fujiko Mine – Michelle Ruff
Koichi Zenigata – Doug Erholtz
Laetitia – Laurie C. Hymes
Lambert – J. David Brimmer
Gerard – Paul Guyet

From 2D to CGI 3D

“I’ve been looking forward to seeing Lupin III in 3DCG for a long time now. I saw the characters and story, and it looks like this new Lupin is going to have a whole new feeling to him. It’s exciting just imagining how the movie is going to turn out.”

-MONKEY PUNCH (OCT. ‘18)

An excerpt from Gkids’ Interview with LUPIN III: THE FIRST  director Takashi Yamazaki:

As soon as the project began in September 2015, the 3DCG Lupin character designs were also developed. Lupin has different characteristics between the TV series and the specials, and likewise, various options were considered for this movie.

com
First, several character designers and concept artists were hired to develop about 30 different designs of Lupin in 2D. The Staff cast voted on the three most popular designs. Those were further improved until the final design was completed. Once Lupin was finalized, developing Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishikawa, and Inspector Zenigata was relatively easy by applying the same style.

1

However, Fujiko Mine proved to be difficult. She was portrayed as a provocative lady in the TV specials with eyes slanting upwards, whereas she was cute and playful with eyes slanting down in the series. Her characteristics changed according to the staff. After many discussions about which direction to go and whether she should be slim or voluptuous, the production team decided on the current design.

2

Building 3D models based on 2D concepts turned out to be challenging since small details make or break Lupin’s likeness. Two dedicated 3D modelers were building digital maquettes in ZBrush for the main characters. What resulted were completely different models, and it was hard to believe that they came from the same concept art. In the end, the one chosen was the model that was most expressive in CG animation. Attention to small details such as the sideburns and jawline were considered to finalize the 3D models.

4

The new characters Laetitia, Lambert, and Gerard were developed based on Director Yamazaki’s rough sketches. Lambert’s 3D model was almost entirely developed from Director Yamazaki’s sketch. Gerard’s design was less straightforward. Ultimately, the character drawn in the animatics turned out to be well-received, so the model was developed from that design.

6

What is great about 3DCG is its rich texture. The slick texture of Lupin’s leather jacket was made possible because of the medium. There were more than 10 different outfits designed for Fujiko and Director Yamazaki mentioned that it was like an upscale costume fitting. However, because of the budget, only a couple of outfits were developed. Fans can enjoy the carefully selected outfits in the film.

Special thanks to GKids for interviewing the film Director Takashi Yamazaki, and providing us with the said interview. For those interested in reading the entire interview please do so here (Lupin III: The First Press Kit PDF).

Lupin_finish_hires_art_Final
Follow the iconic “gentleman thief”  as Lupin III returns in an action-packed, continent-spanning adventure, as Lupin III and his colorful underworld companions race to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Bresson Diary before it falls into the hands of a dark cabal that will stop at nothing to resurrect the Third Reich. The gang undertakes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades, and daring prison escapes with the trademark wit and visual finesse that has made LUPIN THE 3RD one of the most storied animation franchises in the world, in a thrilling new caper that is sure to delight fans old and new. Watch the trailer below!

end

Follow Lupin at these official social media links: