TOKYO (AFP) — US entertainment giant Walt Disney on Thursday unveiled pilot versions of television animation series it is producing in first-of-a-kind tie-ups with Japanese animation studios.
The move, first announced earlier this month, marks a change of strategy for Disney, which has traditionally distributed US-made characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck around the world.
A Japanese adaptation of the popular US "Lilo and Stitch" series will start in late 2008 as "the first Disney animation made in Japan and set in Japan," an official at the Japanese arm of Walt Disney said.
"It's important for Disney's business to produce contents that suit the taste of the country" where they are marketed, the official said at the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2008.
The original "Lilo and Stitch" series told of the bonding between the orphan girl Lilo and a little blue alien named Stitch on the lush Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The Japanese version, jointly produced by mid-sized studio Madhouse, will feature a Japanese girl skilled at karate and be set on a fictional island in Japan's subtropical southern chain of Okinawa.
In the three-minute pilot version, the girl, tentatively named Hanako, and other characters dance to the tunes of traditional Okinawan music while eating a bowl of rice with chopsticks.
Disney will also start airing a three-dimensional computer-animated television series, entitled "Fireball" and produced with Japan's biggest animation studio Toei Animation, from April.
The futuristic Fireball is set on a planet in outer space and features a metallic white-coloured humanoid robot named Drossel that has the mind of a 14-year-old girl and her gigantic butler robot.
Other upcoming television series include "Robocrosser," which will star a 12-year-old boy and his unicycle robot who are trying to win a motorbike race. It will be aired from early 2009.
The annual anime fair opened for a four-day run with participation of some 290 exhibitors including animation studios, television and movie companies, and toy and software makers.
The first two days are for the media and business. It will open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday, with organisers expecting to draw 120,000 visitors to the fair.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »