Saudi's Manga Productions teams up with Japanese studio Toei Animation for new animated feature

Toei is the studio behind 'Dragon Ball Z' and 'Sailor Moon'

The publicity poster for 'The Journey'.
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Manga Productions, a subsidiary of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Misk Foundation, is to collaborate with Tokyo-based Toei Animation. The Japanese studio is behind favourites including Dragon Ball Z and the cult classic Sailor Moon. The two have partnered up on a new animated feature called The Journey which will be partially set in the Kingdom 1,500 years ago.

The Journey will be directed by Shizuno Kobun, whose credits include Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle. Manga and Toei will collaborate on the pre-production and creation of  the story and the character design with Japanese and Saudi artists working together, they said in a joint statement at Cannes.

Production is set to take place in both Riyadh and Tokyo – Manga has an office in each – with 12 Saudis involved in story development, character design, pre-production, storyboards and colouring.  The film will take two years to complete and will employ a production team of over 330 people.

"The Journey is a milestone project for Manga," commented Manga Productions CEO Bukhary Essam, who is in Cannes with members of his creative team. "What we are doing here with The Journey is representative of our larger role in creating an ecosystem throughout Saudi Arabia and the Arab world in which young talents are given opportunities and are supported, and high-quality work representing our culture is produced."

Toei Animation managing director Shinji Shimizu added that it is “a great honour to cooperate in making Saudi Arabia’s very first animation film based on the history and culture of ancient Arabia.”

Manga and Toei have previously collaborated on The Woodcutter's Treasure, a 20-minute animation based on Saudi Arabian folklore. The team is also producing a 13-episode animated TV series.

Manga is fully financing the project, which will be its biggest-budget project to date with arounf $10m in funding. Manga’s parent, Misk, also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Digital Hollywood University, which specialises in teaching and training designers and programmers of creative content like video games and cartoons.