Manga Production, a Saudi company, streamed a teaser for an anime cartoon titled “The Woodcutter’s Treasure” last week; it is Manga’s first joint production with Japanese animation house Toei.
According to Manga’s official Twitter account, the cartoon will run for 13 episodes, each 20-minutes long; it is based on a Saudi folklore story. Manga is also planning for a 90-minute full-length movie.
No specific date was given for the release of the first episode. The cartoon will be in both Arabic and Japanese.
The company announced that this cartoon is geared toward families and children of all ages, focusing on the science fiction and adventures genre.
Manga Productions is an affiliated company of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Misk Foundation. It focuses on producing animations and developing video games with creative and positive content targeting both local and international audiences.
Saudis on social media welcomed the initiative and expressed their excitement to further projects.
“Finally, what I wished for came true, it is amazing to let the world learn about our heritage” commented Norah on Twitter.
Ali Ibrahim replied to the news: “I am happy that you are using the standard Arabic and local music as well, I am really happy, thank you very much.”
But critics were also on the scene. Rema criticized the drawings and the scenery for not truly representing Saudi architecture: “There is a problem, the architecture and nature do not look like Saudi Arabia, there is a river, boats and trees, which is more like Baghdad. It isn’t Saudi Arabia at all.”
Japanese animation has a wide following in Saudi Arabia, and fans have selective tastes when it comes to Anime. Satisfying Saudi audiences may present a challenge for Toei Animation, which is considered one of the greatest animation companies in Japan and the world. Their portfolio contains famous Anime works such as One Piece, Tiger Mask W, Sailor Moon Crystal, and Dragon Ball.