Tokyo International Anime Fair 2008
Tokyo Anime Fair 2008 - Yonayona Penguin Panel

by Evan Miller,

Panelists: Jungo Murata, Katsuya Terada, Rintaro

The Madhouse booth at Tokyo International Anime Fair 2008 was packed with press reporters and business representatives for a special March 27 presentation on the upcoming 3D film Yonayona Penguin. After a brief delay, a Madhouse representative took the stage to moderate the panel.

The president of Madhouse, Jungo Murata, took the stage to start the panel and talk about some of the work that went into the creation of the project. He quickly drew attention to the international support for the film, which is also being produced by a French production company and animated with the help of animation companies in France and Thailand. In total, the film has a budget of approximately 1 billion yen (10 million US Dollars). Although Murata hinted that the international aspects of the project can be tough to manage, he admitted that they are a very crucial part of the puzzle: “The 3D and CG [computer graphics] animation business is so big now, so having some input from international partners is crucial.”

After Mr. Murata left the stage, director Rintaro (pictured above) and character designer Katsuya Terada (pictured at right) took the stage to talk about the film. Although much has been made of the film's unique background and style, Rintaro gave a very simple answer for why he undertook the project, saying that he “thought it was time to try something new.” That “something” has taken approximately six years of development time. “The 3D and CG animation was rather difficult to get used to,” said Rintaro, adding “the CG professionals on the staff have been very helpful.” Although he admitted that the input of international producers was taken into consideration, the project was taken almost entirely into his own hands as he spent a year drawing the production sketches and outline for the entire film on his own over the course of one year. Rintaro also talked about the unique aspects of the film, saying that he wanted to give the film a “Japanese” flavor to distinguish it from the works of groups like Pixar.

Rintaro personally selected Terada to be involved with the film's character design work. Famed anime director Katsuhiro Otomo personally introduced the two to one another. Terada has worked on both live-action (Cutie Honey) and anime projects (Blood: The Last Vampire) in the past. “When I asked him what he wanted for the main character, he asked me to make her ‘a cute but slightly ugly six-year-old girl,’” said Terada, an answer that drew a few cautious laughs from the audience and Rintaro himself.

In the end, the panel ended on a serious note: during a screening of the first few scenes, director Rintaro appeared to get a little emotional as he watched the film on the screen. The film is scheduled to debut in Japan and Europe in 2009, but no deal for distribution in the United States and Canada has been finalized yet.

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