Disney, Madhouse to Make Stitch! Show for Japanese TV

posted on by Egan Loo
CG short, Toei-produced project also planned primarily for Japan

The American entertainment conglomerate Walt Disney announced on Thursday that it is releasing animated works primarily for Japanese television, including a Lilo and Stitch! spinoff co-produced with Japan's Madhouse anime studio. Disney (Mickey Mouse, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pixar's Finding Nemo) had previously announced a co-production agreement with Toei Animation (Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, One Piece) in August of 2006. Disney plans to showcase footage from its works for the Japanese market at the Tokyo International Anime Fair at the end of this month.

Disney is working with Madhouse (Ninja Scroll, Cardcaptor Sakura, Beyblade) to create the tentatively titled Stitch! series. The animated television series will be based on Disney's popular Lilo & Stitch! film (pictured at right). Unlike the previous Lilo & Stitch! sequels which starred a Hawaiian girl named Lilo, the new Stitch! series will be based in a fictional island (not dissimilar to Japan's Okinawa) with a heroine tentatively named "Hanako."

Disney is also planning a 3D computer-graphics animation film short called Fireball. Like the Stitch! series, Fireball is being developed and produced for Disney Japan. The gag comedy takes place in the near future on another planet and centers on Rosselle, the daughter of the Duke of Flugel, and her two steward robots.

Disney had previously announced that it was working with Toei Animation to create a television series tentatively titled Robodies. The series was planned as a hybrid computer-animation project. According to AFP BB News, the Disney-Toei project, now listed as an animation film short, will air on Japan's Disney Channel in May or June.

Disney used to operate a Japanese studio called the Walt Disney Animation Studio Japan, and many of its children's television programming such as Gargoyles and Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears were animated there over a decade ago. However, Disney closed this studio in 2004, along with its studios in Paris and Florida, after its animation divisions suffered losses. In 1996, Disney started a landmark partnership with Tokuma Shoten, the parent company of Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Only Yesterday, Spirited Away). That led to Disney distributing Ghibli works in both Japan and other countries.

Source:, AFPB BB News, CNET Japan

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