RIYADH: The Saudi-Japanese anime film “The Journey” had its Japanese premiere at the Hamarikyu Asahi Hall in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, on Sunday.
The film by Manga Production Company, a subsidiary of the Mohammed bin Salman Charitable Foundation (MiSK), was made in cooperation with the Japanese Toei Animation. Actors Toru Furiya, Hiroshi Kamiya and Takaya Kuroda, who dubbed the film in Japanese, joined director Kobun Shizuno and executive producer Shinji Shimizu at the premier. Several Japanese MPs and company heads also attended the event, along with a large media presence.
The company had already screened the film in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, Jeddah and Dubai. It is now being shown in cinemas in nine Arab countries. It is also available with 4DX technology — the first Saudi movie to present this experience to audiences.
The film, which was shot using anime-style animation and took two and a half years to make, involved a team of 300 Saudi specialists worked alongside their Japanese counterparts.
Set about 1,500 years ago, it presents the ancient civilizations in the Arabian Peninsula and Middle East. It follows the story of Aws and the people of Makkah who are forced to take up arms to liberate themselves and their city from enslavement by a ruthless general.
“I was delighted to watch this epic tale that presents our ancient civilization in the Arabian Peninsula in an attractive form that supports the journey of rapprochement between the two peoples since 1955,” the Kingdom’s ambassador to Japan, Nayef Al-Fahadi, said, adding the Saudi government “welcomes everything that would support the relationship between the two friendly peoples at all levels, based on the firm belief that we have partnerships that support further cooperation.”
Dr. Essam Bukhari, CEO of Manga Production Company, said: “The Kingdom and Japan have built their relationship through trade in oil and other goods, and today this relationship is further strengthened through our close partnership in the field of culture and entertainment.” He said the film is the company’s first cinematic collaboration with Toei Animation.
Teruhiko Mashiko, MP and former deputy minister of economy, industry and trade, said: “Japan was able to achieve high economic growth by importing oil from Saudi Arabia. I think that economic growth alone is not enough for development, (and) what we need now is to find additional opportunities and content to take root in people’s minds.
“Today’s show was fantastic, and I think this is a great opportunity for both our countries to invest in animation and in various other resources. If we can strengthen our friendship, we can make a huge contribution to the world. Let us all work together for the development of our two countries.”
“The Journey” is being shown in both Tokyo and Osaka and has been well received by Japanese audiences.
The Manga Production Company is keen to produce animation and video games projects aimed at communicating the Saudi message globally. It has focused on transferring content-making techniques from developed countries in this field, fostering a keenness among young Saudi and Arab animation talents to instill values and morals in the younger generation.