JEDDAH: Animated films and comics have always been popular in Saudi Arabia. Many children were brought up watching the Arabic television channel Spacetoon, which shows a variety of Japanese anime shows dubbed in Arabic.
With Japanese animation and comics (manga) culture growing in the Kingdom, many people are pursuing careers in this field. One studio that is raising the profile of Saudi artists and storytellers is Studio Tanim.
This Saudi production company aims to enrich visual content through the production of animation and storytelling with a unique youthful character and professional quality.
The studio also creates content that reflects Arab culture and promotes Arab social identity.
Studio Tanim’s services include character design with an Arab identity, animation in the form of Japanese anime, and high-quality comics.
The studio was founded in early 2017 by Majed Mohammed, a computer engineer who has been passionate about comics since he was child.
Mohammed, now the CEO, created Studio Tanim with three other co-founders: Ahmad Hawssah, the team’s writer; Hussam Turkistani, art director and main artist; and Abdul Aziz Al-Shemasi, a sound engineer.
The studio animators are Turkistani, Rawan Al-Difi, and Effat University’s Joanna Hashim and Samaher Bantan.
Mohammed told Arab News that animated movies and comics can play a positive role in children’s upbringing and help develop character.
“Everyone is influenced by the cartoons and movies they have watched growing up. We did research this ourselves, and found it to be true.
“For this reason, we aim to make a difference in our society through our work. We want to correct the bad traits we have in our society. We hope that the next generation will adopt good, moral and ethical characteristics, and good behaviors such as being punctual and always telling the truth.
“We try to change bad characteristics though our work,” he said.
So far, the studio has created one animated movie, “Sadae,” which won the Prince Khalid Al-Faisal award for moderation in the animation field in 2017.
The film, which can be found on Studio Tanim’s YouTube channel, focuses on an unemployed and neglected young man who is constantly criticized by his family. One day, the protagonist, Waleed, surfs through social media, finds demeaning comments about Islam and replies to these comments defending the religion. He is then contacted by a terrorist organization who take advantage of his neglected state and convince him to take part in terrorist attacks. “It highlights how terrorist groups find such people and recruit them via the internet,” Mohammed said.
The studio has also created three comics: “90 Days” illustrates and discusses a racist issue between a Saudi man and a foreign worker. “It shows that we weren’t born with racism inside us, but it is something that we adopt from the community,” Mohammed said.
“Last Operation” tells the story of a man who is set to blow himself up in a theme park full of children. “How did the terrorists reach him and persuade to him to do that?” asked Mohammed.
The third comic, “My father is a soldier and my brother is a terrorist,” tells the story of a young man who discovers his brother has joined a terrorist organization after their father’s death and tries to save him from this evil path.
Studio Tanim’s content is in Arabic, and it is planning to create content in English in the future.