4Kids Gets Global License for Pénélope tête en l'air
posted on by Egan Loo
The American licensing company 4Kids Entertainment has acquired the rights to the Pénélope tête en l'air (Ukkari Pénélope or Pénélope, Head in the Clouds) characters and anime franchise worldwide except in Asia and France. The wife/husband team of France's Ann Gutman and Germany's Georg Hallensleben created the original Pénélope picture books, which have been translated into over 14 languages and have sold over 2 millon copies. Nippon Animation and NHK Enterprises adapted the books into a 2006 series of television shorts in Japan. Both the books and the anime recount the adventures of a naive three-year-old blue koala and her friends.
Since the first television anime series, Nippon Animation produced the Pénélope's Christmas Party special and a new 2009 television series. Although the shorts were produced with computer animation, they were designed to emulate the look of the original picture books' hand-drawn paintings. The anime was an official selection of the 2007 Annecy international animation festival in the children's animation category.
The German character licensing company TV-Loonland had acquired the license to Pénélope tête en l'air in Europe, the Near and Middle East, and Africa in 2007. However, TV-Loonland went out of business this past December. The European rights were in limbo until 4Kids acquired them along with the rights for other regions as well.
4Kids is re-branding its programming block on The CW network in the United States under the tentative title of "Toonzai," and it will "return to its roots" by airing more Japanese programming for the 2010-2011 season. One of the Japanese titles in the revamped five-hour Sunday morning block will be Dragon Ball Z Kai. The company also announced in March that it had licensed the Japanese/Korean animated series Tai Chi Chasers (Tai Chi Senjimon).
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