Mari Okada Joins Production of Tonko House's Oni CG Series (Updated)

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Okada discusses 'unusual challenge' of writing for English-language production

The Animation Magazine website reported on Friday that scriptwriter Mari Okada is joining the production of California-based studio Tonko House's Oni CGI animated series.

Okada told Animation Magazine she was "blown away" when Dice Tsutsumi pitched the project to her. She added, "I saw a lot of myself in his deeply personal connection to the story and felt many people around the world would feel the same. I felt I had to take this opportunity even if it meant facing unusual challenges for the first time, such as writing for an English-language production."

Okada has written and overseen scripts for such anime as Toradora!, A Lull in the Sea, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Kiznaiver, and Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan. She made her directorial debut with her Maquia - When the Promised Flower Blooms anime film, and more recently penned the scripts to the films Her Blue Sky and A Whisker Away. She is also writing and directing an original anime film called Alice to Therese no Maboroshi Kōjō (Alice and Therese's Illusory Factory).

Netflix is collaborating with Tonko House on the Oni series, and it describes the story:

In a world filled with the oddball gods and monsters of Japanese mythology, one of the creatures' free-spirited daughters, Onari, is determined to follow in the footsteps of the mighty heroes of lore, but her unique powers are yet to be revealed. Does she have what it takes to protect her peaceful village from the encroaching presence of the mysterious ‘Oni’ who threaten the gods?

Tonko House is producing the series with Japanese visual effects studio Megalis VFX as well as CG studios Marza and Anima.

Daisuke "Dice" Tsutsumi (Hayao Miyazaki's nephew-in-law) is the project's creator and showrunnner. Robert Kondo is an executive producer alongside Kane Lee. Sara K. Sampson is also a producer on the series.

Tsutsumi and Kondo founded Tonko House in 2014 and debuted the 18-minute Oscar-nominated short film "The Dam Keeper" in the same year.

Tonko House and Hulu Japan produced Pig: The Dam Keeper Poems (Pig: Oka no Ue no Dam Keeper or "Pig: The Dam Keeper at the Top of the Hill"), a series of animated shorts based on "The Dam Keeper." The series debuted at the Short Shorts Film Festival event in Tokyo in June 2017, and began streaming on Hulu Japan in August 2017.

The studio also handled story concept, composition, and design for Mystery of Kumamon, the planned anime centering on the Kumamoto Prefecture's Kumamon mascot character.

Update: While websites like Variety previously listed the series as a blend of stop-motion and CGI with stop-motion company dwarf studios being involved, Tonko House confirmed to ANN that the show will be CGI only and dwarf studios will not be involved. Additionally, while Cartoon Brew had stated that Zen Miyake and Megan Bartel were working on the project, Tonko House confirmed to ANN that they are not working on the project. Lastly, while Animation Magazine had listed Glen Keane Productions as a producer on the project, Tonko House confirmed with ANN that the company is not working on the project.

Sources: Animation Magazine (Mercedes Milligan), Tonko House's Facebook page, Dice Tsutsumi's Twitter account

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