The Misk Foundation’s affiliated company, Manga Productions, will premiere its weekly anime series “Future’s Folktales” on Jan. 24 on MBC1.
The first anime of its kind, a joint production between Saudi Arabia’s Manga Productions and Japan’s TOEI Animation, the show will feature Saudi history and customs in a way never seen before.
Speaking at the launch of the series, Essam Bukhary, CEO of Manga Productions, said: “We aim to create the right conditions in the Arab region and Saudi Arabia to stimulate creativity and develop unique content for future generations. We are also committed to bring the Saudi culture to the entire world in an attractive and unique way.”
Arab News was invited to a press conference announcing the launch, and was treated to a sneak peek of the first episode, as well as the opening and closing credits.
The 13-episode series takes place in a futuristic reimagining of the Kingdom, showcasing tales of Saudi heritage that have been passed down from generation to generation. A grandmother shares her stories with her grandchildren and their robot cat Anis, offering advice and words of wisdom from times past.
Bukhary believes that the mix of nostalgia from the anime style, which resembles cartoons familiar to older generations, along with the novelty of the futuristic setting, will help attract a wider range of viewers to the program.
He also hopes that the series will inspire young Saudis, saying: “When ‘Star Wars’ came out in the US, space travel hit peak popularity and everyone wanted to be an astronaut.
When you visit robotics studios in Japan, you will find figurines of Gundam and Grendizer. We are trying to plant a dream in our children that this is a future they will be able to create.”
The series is due to air on Fridays at 4 p.m.
“We chose this time slot because it is generally a time when the entire family is gathered together, meaning that they can bond over the show,” Bukhary said.
Sarah Oulddaddah, head of animation at Manga Productions, said she was happy that her team had been able to showcase local talent.
“The team at Manga Productions did all of the writing, character and plot development, and contributed significantly to the creation of concept art. We have a very talented all-Arab team who contributed to the content with their invaluable experience,” she said.
She also praised the collaboration with TOEI Animation, saying that the project helped both parties.
“We were able to benefit from their years of experience, and we were able to assist them with many of the details of a project that was new to them, like how to properly draw a shumagh. This was our goal as a Saudi team. To ensure that when a Saudi person sees these characters, they can see themselves reflected back in them,” she said.
A group of talented actors lent their voices to the characters including Hayat Ahmed, who plays Joud, a programmer, inventor and role model to her children; Muna Al-Amri as Maha, the eldest sister; Hala Halawani as Sultan, the younger brother; and Youssef Al-Jarrah in the role of Badr, the father.
Other famous voices include Rasha Rizk performing the opening, and Jihad Al-Atrash, the voice of the original Duke Fleed from “Grendizer.”