JEDDAH: “The Journey,” an animated film co-produced by Saudi company Manga Productions and Japan’s Toei Animation, is coming to the big screen courtesy of Dubai-based VOX Cinemas, which is bringing it to the Middle East and North Africa.
T-Joy, a subsidiary of Toei Animation, has taken rights for the film in Japan. “The Journey” will initially be released in Arabic and Japanese, with the possibility of an English dub to follow.
“It was an honor and also a great responsibility for the Japanese to create a feature-length animation based on the ancient history of the Arabian Peninsula, with different cultures, lifestyles and customs than ours,” Toei Animation Chairman Shinji Shimizu said in a statement, according to Variety magazine.
“It is a collaborative movie that Japanese animation professionals and young Saudi Arabian talents created side-by-side, a cultural exchange I am proud of.”
Manga Productions CEO Essam Bukhary said the film is “a milestone project” for his company “as it validates our efforts to become the regional leader and a global pioneer in the animation and values-driven content space.”
The film, he told Arab News, revolves around an old civilization in the Arabian Peninsula where the people come together to stand up to “a strong enemy.”
The hero, Aws, has a mysterious backstory that plays an important role in the destiny of the city, said Bukhary.
Historical advisors have been involved with the project to ensure authenticity, and as part of it being a collaborate exchange of cultures, a Japanese team visited Saudi Arabia to get a feel for the setting designs.
The animation work was done in both Riyadh and Tokyo. A team of 12 Saudis worked on story development and character design. The entire production team amounted to 330 people.
The film’s character designer is Tatsuro Iwamoto, who has worked on character illustration for both the game and animation series of “Ace Attorney.”
Kaoru Wada is the film’s music composer. He was behind the musical scores for popular anime shows such as “D.Gray-man” and “Inuyasha.”
Manga Productions, which falls under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK Foundation, signed the agreement with Toei Animation in 2017.
The film will be screened at the Cannes Film Market in May to allocate prospective buyers for the feature.
Meanwhile, the first co-production between Manga Productions and Toei Animation, a 13-episode animated series called “Future’s Folktales,” has been airing on MBC 1 and Shahid, a subsidiary streaming platform of the group, since January.
Its first two episodes have gained more than 12 million views, according to Manga Productions.
Set in 2050, a Saudi family residing in a futuristic Riyadh huddle together to listen to tales of the Kingdom’s past by their grandmother.