In October 2020, Cartoon Network (CN) took up Monsta’s popular action-comedy Mechamato, which has already grabbed attention since its announcement. This acquisition marked the expansion of CN’s focus on Asian and regional animated content. Mechamato will launch on CN in Q4 2021 in October.
Mechamato revolves around the adventures of a young boy named Amato who inadvertently becomes the master of MechaBot, a Power Sphera with the power to mechanise any daily life object into high-tech devices. Together they can combine into the titular armoured hero. With the help of his best friends, Mechamato is on a mission to defeat and capture bad robots before they cause more chaos in the city – reads the official description.
Animation Xpress had an exclusive conversation with Monsta Brand & International Sales head Faiz Zainal Aabidin and Monsta founder and creator of Mechamato Nizam Abd Razak about the series, new project and working with CN. Excerpts follow:
> What’s unique about Mechamato that makes it stand out? Who owns the IP?
Aabidin: Mechamato‘s uniqueness is in its simple concept – a robot that can combine and transform mundane, daily-life items and turn them into high-powered devices. This concept revolves around a child’s imaginative mind. Everyone has played around with ordinary things by imagining them to be something greater and much more useful when they were young. This is why we believe that kids will connect well and relate to this idea.
Mechamato is solely owned by Monsta. We are planning a full-length movie followed by a full series coming in 2021.
> What’s the inspiration behind this series? Can you take us through the process from ideation to execution?
Razak: Monsta has always aspired to create their own robot animated show. However, there are many robot-related shows out there, making it difficult to find a genuine and unique idea. The initial concept for Mechamato was something that actually occurred to me in the midst of packing up for a move.
I was packing my stuff to move out to a new house. I noticed my kids were playing with the boxes and imagining themselves in a tank. I had a flashback of my younger self sitting in a box, pretending that I was driving a car.
That sparked the idea of a ‘Power Sphera’ robot that has the ability to combine with the box and transform it into a high-tech mini car or tank. Exploring the idea further, I wondered, why stop at the boxes? Why not a broom turning into a high-powered blaster? Or an ordinary school bag into a jet pack?
After discussing with the rest of the team, we decided to coin the term ‘Mechanise’ to refer to the ability to combine and transform normal, daily-life items into high-tech devices. The limit being one’s own imagination.
> Please take us through the animation process? What software did the team mostly use?
Aabidin: The process of producing Mechamato starting from the script, animation and all the way to post-production is entirely executed in-house by more than 100 young and talented artists in the studio. The English dubbing for the series is the only thing that is outsourced to a studio in Miami. Similar to most major 3D animation studios out there, Monsta utilises software such as Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, Side FX Houdini and many more to complete the project.
> Tell us about the animation team (respective roles) that has worked on the animated project?
Aabidin: Before creating Mechamato, the team at Monsta is already well-known for another Boy Action show titled, BoBoiBoy, an animated franchise that secured a phenomenal fanbase across various parts of Asia. It has been broadcasted in over 70 countries through Disney Channel, Netflix, Tencent, MBC, Hungama and Marvel HQ.
The team is helmed by Razak who serves as the creator and director of Mechamato. He is supported by a full line up of production leaders who are experienced in delivering feature films and full animated series. All of this has enabled Monsta to anticipate the demands of a global audience for an awesome, high-quality animation show.
> How’s the experience of collaborating with CN? How many seasons and episodes has CN taken up?
Aabidin: CN is undoubtedly one of the biggest animation networks in the world. With such a reputation, it is not easy for any animation producer to have their show featured under the same roof as popular titles like We Bare Bears, Ben 10, Teen Titans, and many more.
Working with CN is such a wonderful experience and Monsta feels incredibly privileged for the opportunity. WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks APAC Kids head Leslie Lee and WarnerMedia APAC Acquisitions & Co-productions director Jung Hoyoung, along with the rest of the team, are amazing people to work with. Their passion and enthusiasm towards this project are what drove us to deliver the very best that we could possibly offer. This is also Monsta’s very first collaboration with CN and we are very excited to embark on this new journey together with them.
Mechamato is currently in the production phase and CN has secured one whole season of the show which consists of 26 episodes (of 22 minutes each).
> How did Monsta fare during the worldwide lockdown? How are the numbers showing?
Aabidin: The current pandemic situation is a tough time for any business company to go through. Back in March 2020, the Malaysian government enforced a nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) at the expense of an economic downturn. However, that has not stopped Monsta from pushing steadily through this crisis.
There has been a heavy shift towards the online sphere ever since the start of the MCO and Monsta successfully leveraged upon this climate and engaged with millions of online users at the time by releasing Mechamato: First Look video on the online platforms. The response has been overwhelmingly encouraging, securing a total of more than 10 million views across various platforms.
> What’s new on Monsta’s plate apart from Mechamato? Any new significant partnerships in place or in progress?
Aabidin: Despite the many challenges in 2020, Monsta took it all as an opportunity to launch another new series called, Papa Pipi, aimed at spreading positive and useful messages to the viewers. The lovable father-daughter duo has spoken on many social and environmental topics such as self-hygiene, the new norm, river pollution, and many more.
In less than a year, Papa Pipi has garnered almost half-a-billion views across 33 episodes. The enthusiastic reactions from viewers caught even us by surprise.
> Were any of the episodes of Mechamato created remotely due to the pandemic? Who’s directing the project?
Aabidin: Indeed, during the early stages of the MCO back in March, the whole team had to work from home. Monsta continued to deliver PSA videos and complete Mechamato episodes as per the established production timeline, adhering to it as closely as we could.
As soon as the nationwide lockdown was lifted and the country’s economy started to slowly regain its momentum again, Monsta went right back to full capacity mode. As Mechamato is Monsta’s main show for the year 2021, delivering the movie and series as planned, with the level of quality that could be proud of, is Monsta’s top-most priority.