Anime adaptation ‘Onimusha’ gives new life to legendary game

New anime series Onimusha, based on Capcom’s famous video game series of the same title, is premiering globally on Netflix on 2 November.

The classic game is a landmark in the gaming world, known for its gripping survival action and stunning historical backdrop of Japan’s tumultuous Warring States period. This is its first anime adaptation since debuting 22 years ago. 

Taking the helm as supervising director is Takashi Miike, whose innovative depictions of cinematic swordplay in the critically acclaimed 13 Assassins and Blade of the Immortal have won over legions of fans. Together with director Shinya Sugai, celebrated for his work on CG anime Dragon’s Dogma, and animation studio Sublimation, they aim to revolutionise the anime landscape with their unique take on Onimusha.

The focus of this adaptation is on Miyamoto Musashi, modelled after the late Japanese screen icon Toshiro Mifune. Set in the early Edo Period, a time when Japan was transitioning towards peace, and warfare was fading into history, an ageing Musashi embarks on a covert mission. Armed with the mythical “Oni Gauntlet,” Musashi embarks on an epic journey to vanquish the lurking demons. 

The main theme song, The Loneliest, by Måneskin adds depth and emotion to the saga. The cast includes Akio Otsuka, Hochu Otsuka, Daiki Yamashita, Subaru Kimura, Katsuyuki Konishi, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Makoto Furukawa, Aya Yamane, Ryohei Kimura and Toshihiko Seki.

Onimusha fuses 3D CGI character animations with hand-drawn backgrounds. This amalgamation of traditional and modern animation techniques promises to bring a fresh experience to both long-time fans and newcomers alike.

Ashutosh Gowariker graces AVGC-XR grand meet-up in Indore

AVGC-XR Media & Entertainment Association organised a meet-up on 20 September 2023 at Hotel Shereton in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

The highlight of the event was the presence of the Indian film director, actor, screenwriter and producer Ashutosh Gowariker, whose cinematic masterpieces such as Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar have left an indelible mark on Indian cinema. Gowarikar, who graced the event as a State Guest, was presented with a memento as a token of gratitude. The other guests engaged with him in conversations about the creative process behind his films.

Present among the guests was Radio Mirchi and Times OOH co-founder A P Parigi, who has vast experience in the media and entertainment sector, and has been a mentor, leadership coach, business strategy specialist, and public speaker. AVGC-XR Media & Entertainment Association patron, and FICCI AVGC Forum chairman Ashish Kulkarni played an instrumental role in orchestrating this meet-up.

The event provided a platform for networking and collaboration, bringing together experts from across Madhya Pradesh to explore the future of the AVGC and XR (extended reality) industries in the state. The event offered special thanks to its patron Rahul Jain for his guidance, secretary Sanjay Khimesara for managing, and Ravish Jain and Vikas Tiwari for outreach.

Ahead of the meeting, Kulkarni in consultation with Rahul Jain, Khimesara and Manish Rajoria created a pre-draft for AVGC-XR Policy to recommend it to the State of Madhya Pradesh.

Adult Swim reveals trailer for Toonami original series ‘FLCL: Shoegaze’

USA’s Adult Swim recently shared that the fifth season of the cult hit series, FLCL: Shoegaze will premiere on 30 September at midnight ET/PT on the platform’s popular anime block Toonami. Directed by Yutaka Uemura and featuring an electrifying soundtrack from The Pillows, a trailer for FLCL: Shoegaze was unveiled recently.

The anime series picks up after the events of the third season, FLCL: Alternative. While everyone returns to their ordinary lives, two frustrated teenagers concoct a plot to destroy the Tsuganei tower in the hopes that it will incite change.

“Coming off of his terrific work on FLCL: Alternative, we are so excited to have director Yutaka Uemura return to the world of FLCL,” said Adult Swim SVP and anime and action series head Jason DeMarco. “After a long wait, we are so thrilled to welcome back FLCL. We hope you enjoy it!”

The latest instalment of Toonami’s FLCL arrives on the heels of the fourth season, FLCL: Grunge, which is premiering new episodes every Saturday at midnight ET/PT.

FLCL: Shoegaze is animated by Production I.G x Nut. It is executive produced by DeMarco and produced by Maki Terashima-Furuta (Production IG USA).

Poker platform Gamoski Networks launches Natural8 India by announcing five freeroll tournaments

Goa-based poker platform Gamoski Networks announced the launch of global online poker software Natural8 in India. With this move, Gamoski aims to bring a “world-class” online poker experience to players across the country.

Along with the launch of Natural8 India, Gamoski has announced five freeroll – or free to enter and play – tournaments with a cumulative prize pool of 28.44 lakh rupees. Scheduled to be held between 23 September and 15 October, these tournaments are aimed at providing the Indian poker players a glimpse of the playing experience that the software delivers. 

“India, as a country, loves its card games, and I feel that poker has the potential to achieve similar popularity as other card games such as teen-patti or rummy within the country,” said Natural8 India director and veteran poker professional Kunal Patni. “The launch of Natural8 India is aimed at realising that vision by delivering a differentiated, world-class online poker experience to Indian players. I have known the Natural8 brand’s strong reputation of delivering high-quality online poker experiences across the world for a while now, and we are excited to bring to India the technological and industry expertise that has powered the brand globally.”

L-R: Kunal Patni, Nikita Luther

“I am delighted to be partnering with a brand renowned for its state-of-the-art gaming platform and differentiated user experience,” said Natural8 brand ambassador Nikita Luther, who is a World Series of Poker Bracelet winner. “With Natural8 India at the helm of India’s nascent poker revolution, I cannot wait for the growth and opportunities that await it in the future.”

Natural8’s software framework provides interactive gameplay, seamless navigation, and visually appealing interface that is currently missing from India’s growing iGaming landscape, Gamoski Networks believes. The platform claims that its strong focus on technology and fair play ensures that it avoids the most common gameplay issues – such as bots, real-time assistance, and multi-accounting – that hamper the players’ online poker experience.

The brand has hosted big and lucrative poker tournaments online. To underscore this user-centric value proposition ahead of its maiden tournaments in India, Natural8 India has launched an introductory offer where users can get an extra 15 per cent value to any deposit they make on the platform until 30 September.

‘Masha and the Bear’ accumulates a trillion minutes of watchtime on YouTube

Animaccord’s animated series Masha and the Bear received over a total of 150 billion content views and 230 million subscribers on YouTube.

According to Animaccord, Masha and the Bear achieved a 50 per cent growth rate in its subscriber base on YouTube in 2023, compared to the previous year. In eight months of this year alone, the brand has gained 30 million new followers, surpassing the 20 million subscribers added in 2022.

In addition to its subscriber growth, the brand’s in-house managed channels have accumulated over one trillion minutes of watchtime on YouTube. To put this in perspective, it equates to nearly two million years of viewing, dating back to a time when homo erectus first appeared on Earth.

Masha and the Bear has recently been honoured with its seventh YouTube Diamond Creator Award. This recognition was earned by the show’s Hindi channel, which crossed 10 million subscribers. The Hindi channel now joins the ranks of previously awarded channels, including English, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Ukrainian, and Arabic, bringing the total number of YouTube Awards for the brand to 57 (seven diamond, 21 golden, 30 silver).

Other multi-language channels associated with Masha and the Bear are also achieving milestones. The Japanese channel, which was launched in 2021, has now crossed the one million subscriber mark, earning a YouTube Gold Creator Award.

ESFI partners with FITGMR to train India’s ‘League of Legends’ team for Asian Games 2022

India’s League of Legends team has embarked on their journey to Hangzhou to compete as the top team from Central and South Asia in their respective title at the upcoming Asian Games 2022, scheduled from 25 to 29 September.

The unit captained by Akshaj Shenoy (Kai), comprises Samarth Arvind Trivedi (CrankO), Mihir Ranjan (Lotus), Sanindhya Malik (Deadcorp), Aakash Shandilya (Infi), Aditya Selvaraj (Krow). The League of Legends matches at the tournament will commence in the group-round robin format, followed by the quarters, semis, and the grand final, scheduled for 29 September.

A total of 19 League of Legends teams from the continent will go head-to-head against each other at the tournament. All matches till the final will be played in the Best of 3 format while the gold medal and bronze medal matches will be contested in the Best of 5 format.

The team secured their berth at the Asian Games 2022 by triumphing in the National Esports Championships (NESC) finals, organised by the Esports Federation of India (ESFI) last year. Indian sports and esports communication agency Artsmith-Concepts & Visions is the official communication partner of ESFI. ESFI recently partnered with esports technology and training firm FITGMR, to provide in-game coaching and performance training to its athletes.

As part of the association, the League of Legends team has undergone a rigorous four-month comprehensive training programme under the guidance of their coach Samuel Boudrie a.k.a Boc. The coach who has previously worked with esports organisation Cloud9, has also travelled alongside the team to help bolster their performances at the tournament.

The esports event will be held in China Hangzhou Esports Centre from 24 September to 2 October, and the athletes will compete for gold medals in seven different titles. India, however, will be participating in four of the seven titles: DOTA 2, EA Sports FC Online, League of Legends, and Street Fighter V: Champion Edition.

Minecraft and NERF partner for popular videogame, to be available in October

Toy and game company Hasbro and Minecraft today announced a partnership for the popular sandbox videogame. The free Minecraft NERF World DLC (downloadable content) gives players an immersive experience full of challenges involving NERF blasters combined with Minecraft worlds and mobs.

NERF is an active play lifestyle brand that is into digital and gaming offerings, licensed products, sports expansions, in-person experiences, talent partnerships and more.

In the Minecraft NERF World DLC, players use NERF blasters to target Minecraft mobs in different arenas inspired by locations from the game, featuring experiences that are true to the NERF brand: blaster battles, a NERF-themed arena, parkour challenges, and more. Throughout these experiences, players will wield Minecraft NERF products and fight a final boss inspired by one of the most memorable Minecraft mobs: the NERF Ender Dragon.

The DLC integrates real-world products into its gameplay loop, including Hasbro’s Minecraft-branded NERF Ender Dragon Blaster, which is available at Walmart and other major retailers.  

The Minecraft NERF World DLC will be available for Minecraft: Bedrock Edition via Minecraft Marketplace on 2 October 2023.

WildBrain and IQIYI to launch new Keith Chapman series ‘Jonny Jetboy’ at Mipcom 2023

WildBrain is launching Jonny Jetboy (40 x 11’), a new kids’ series from Keith Chapman, the creator of Paw Patrol and Bob the Builder, at MipJunior and Mipcom 2023.

The company said that its slate for the market would include two additional new originals: the CG-animated preschool show Caillou (52 x 11’) and a new version of comedy series, Johnny Test (40 x 11’).

Jonny Jetboy is targeted at kids aged four to seven years in age. The series follows the adventures of the youngest member of the Jones family—Jonny Jones. The Jones’ are secretly a family of superheroes known as the “JetFleet”. Like every family, they do not always get along, but when they work together, nothing in the world can stop them! Each week, Jonny will learn from his parents, his sister—and even the family’s pet tortoise—what it takes to be a true hero as they face off against the city’s villains, according to the series’ makers.

The series creator Chapman said, “I’m thrilled that Jonny Jetboy is now ready to be launched to the international market. It’s been an awesome journey so far, but I know this is just the beginning for Jonny. I can’t wait to see the series blast into the hearts and homes of families all around the world.”

WildBrain VP global sales & rights strategy Caroline Tyre said, “It’s been fantastic to collaborate with iQIYI on Jonny Jetboy and to see another of Keith Chapman’s creations come to life. With Jonny Jetboy, Keith has once again used his creative genius to craft a series with all the right ingredients to entertain families worldwide, including action-packed adventures, heroic characters and high-tech gadgets. We cannot wait to introduce Jonny and the JetFleet to the international market at MipJunior and Mipcom.”

iQIYI vice president Xiaoxuan Yang said, “Deep within every child’s heart lies the dream of becoming a hero. I am delighted to collaborate with Keith and the Wildbrain team to unveil an extraordinary tale of a flying-themed hero, which will captivate children globally. I hope that iQIYI and Wildbrain can explore deeper collaboration beyond content acquisition.”

Jonny Jetboy is produced by iQIYI in collaboration with WildBrain as animation supervisor. The animation production was completed by China’s WinSing Animation Studio. The creative team behind the show includes Chapman and Michael Vogel, who serve as executive producers, and Jinming Lu from WinSing Animation Studio. Vogel is one of the creative forces behind My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and WildBrain’s new Strawberry Shortcake series, Berry in the Big City.

WildBrain holds worldwide distribution rights for Jonny Jetboy, excluding greater China.

Caillou (52 x 11’) for preschoolers 

Caillou continues to explore the daily life of an imaginative and curious four-year-old boy, who—like most preschoolers—is learning and growing a little more each day and does not usually get things right on the first try, despite his best efforts. Through the support and encouragement of his parents, friends, and neighbours—as well as through adventures in his active imagination—Caillou reaches new understandings and discoveries as he learns to never give up and keep pursuing his goals until he succeeds, WildBrain said.

Produced by WildBrain and IoM, with showrunner Miklos Perlus, the series targets preschoolers aged two to five.

Johnny Test – two new seasons (40 x 11’)

After concluding its original run in 2012, the Johnny Test library continued to build in popularity on Netflix, leading the streamer to commission two new seasons from WildBrain in 2020. From original creator Scott Fellows as showrunner and executive producer, and produced at WildBrain’s Vancouver studio, the new seasons see the return of Johnny, along with his loyal talking dog Dukey, his sisters Susan and Mary, and all the kid-villains of Porkbelly! All-new all-out adventures, battles and experiments-gone-haywire await as the unshakable kid with the flaming hair tackles the challenges of adolescence with the help of his sisters and their cutting-edge experiments yet.

WildBrain holds worldwide distribution rights to the full Caillou and Johnny Test libraries.

Buyers attending MipJunior and Mipcom, being held between 13-19 October can watch Jonny Jetboy, Caillou and Johnny Test in the MipJunior screenings and visit WildBrain at stand #R7.N13.

Crunchyroll India to add 20 new, returning and continuing anime series this October

Crunchyroll is bringing 20 new series coming to India this fall, alongside new dubbed anime. The dubbed anime includes the emotionally-complex fantasy adventure Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, which will be available in Hindi and Tamil, and comedic isekai I’m in Love with the Villainess, which will be available in Hindi.

In addition, new episodes of the Hindi and Tamil dub of Jujutsu Kaisen season 2 have premiered today on Crunchyroll. The anime series follows the tale of a high-schooler who became a curse to end a curse. It is produced by Toho Animation, based on the best-selling manga of the same title written and illustrated by Gege Akutami.

Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 official synopsis: This is the innocent spring that the two strongest lost forever. Itadori Yuji took Ryomen Sukuna into his own body in June 2018. Okkotsu Yuta freed Orimoto Rika from her curse in December 2017. And now it’s spring 2006. Gojo Satoru and Geto Suguru, two peerless jujutsu sorcerers from Jujutsu High, have been given two missions by Tengen, an immortal known as the cornerstone of the jujutsu community. One mission is the escorting and erasure of the “Star Plasma Vessel,” Amanai Riko, the girl chosen as the best match to merge with Tengen. So the two of them set out on their escort mission in order to keep the jujutsu community going, but an assassin calling himself Fushiguro interferes in an attempt to assassinate the Star Plasma Vessel. The pasts of Gojo and Geto, the ones who would later be known as the most powerful jujutsu sorcerer and the most evil curse user, are about to be revealed.

Below are the titles that are simulcasting weekly on Crunchyroll this October in India:

29 September

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Madhouse): After the party of heroes defeated the Demon King, they restored peace to the land and returned to lives of solitude. Generations pass, and the elven mage Frieren comes face to face with humanity’s mortality. She takes on a new apprentice and promises to fulfill old friends’ dying wishes. Can an elven mind make peace with the nature of life and death? Frieren embarks on her quest to find out.

Dubs include: Hindi and Tamil

1 October

The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch (A-Real): Alyssa, a witch who lives alone in the woods, finds a human baby one day. Despite her bewilderment, she names the child Viola and decides to raise her. 16 years later, Viola has grown far more than Alyssa ever imagined… Wait, she grew too much! And so, the chaotic comedy of a mother and daughter with inverted appearances begins!

2 October

Shy (8bit): Around the middle of the 21st century, all wars on Earth ceased. The sudden widespread appearance of “Heroes,” people with supernatural powers who wish only for peace, has drastically transformed the world. In a world where the Heroes of each country work to maintain this newfound peace, the one protecting Japan is a young girl named Shy who is… cripplingly shy.

I’m in Love with the Villainess (Platinum Vision): The world turns upside down when a corporate drone wakes up as Rae Taylor, the heroine in her favourite otome game, Revolution. Rae is elated at the opportunity to court Claire François, the game’s villainess and the object of her affection. Armed with her knowledge of the game and events to come, Rae sets out to make Claire fall for her. But how will the villainess take Rae’s romantic advances?

Dubs include: Hindi

4 October

16bit Sensation: Another Layer (st.Silver): The year: 1992. The college student: Meiko Uehara. The part-time job: Computer store clerk. Or so she thought. While exploring the store’s second floor, Meiko finds Alcohol Soft, an adult PC game developer. She replaces an artist in a twist of fate. Out of her element and with an approaching deadline, Meiko races to complete the game and prove herself. The fate of her career depends on it!

5 October

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Season 2 – Cour 2 (Studio Kafka) – Returning from Spring 2023: Chise was able to accept Elias and herself, if not necessarily everything about her situation. After Cartaphilus fell back into a slumber that would not last forever, Chise was able to go back to her regular life. Then she receives an invitation from a mutual aid organisation for mages called the College. Under the British Library exists a secret society of mages. Encounters and interactions with people are about to open some new doors. This is a story about saving yourself to save another.

6 October

HYPNOSISMIC -Division Rap Battle- Rhyme Anima PLUS (A-1 Pictures): Legendary rap group The Dirty Dawg could have taken Japan by storm, but then they broke up. Now each member fights in one of the four rival groups. Battles for turf are fought with rap and the Hypnosis Mic, a microphone that can affect the human spirit.

7 October

A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special (Arvo Animation): In a land dominated by the formidable Shadow Worlds, most of humanity has been destroyed. To rescue their planet from impending doom, six brave heroes fight a perilous battle…and fail. But there’s a glimpse of hope when Desir, one of the last mages, is suddenly sent back in time 13 years! Now armed with knowledge of the grim future, can he alter the course of history and save the world?

My New Boss is Goofy (A-1 Pictures): Currently serialised in Manga Cross and a hit comic that has sold over 500,000 copies, comes the long-awaited TV anime adaptation of this soul-soothing comedy about work! After his power-harassing boss broke his spirit and his health, Momose leaves his job to work at a new job in sales at an advertising agency. However, on the very first day of his new job, Momose is unable to move due to a stomach ache caused by his past traumas. “What should I do if my new boss also abuses his power?” In the meantime, his new boss Shirosaki is out with him to see the clients. Just what exactly is Shirosaki going to do…?! This boss’ unexpectedly “goofy” nature will surely heal anyone!!

Butareba -The Story of a Man Turned into a Pig (Project No.9): The 26th Dengeki Novel Prize Gold Award-winning story has oink’d its way into an anime adaptation! I am a dull otaku who lost consciousness after eating raw pork liver. When I awoke, it seemed that I had been reincarnated into another world… but I had also become a pig! As I was rolling around in a pigsty covered in mud, Jess, a kind, angelic, beautiful girl, came to my rescue. “Oink!!” “Um, you don’t have to force yourself to talk. I’m able to… understand you.” This girl who was devotedly caring after my pig-self was a member of the Yethma, and her people have the ability to read minds.  “This is bad! That means she can see through all of my lustful delusions!” Now in Mesteria, a world run by swords and magic, a pig and a mind-reading beauty set off on their lovey-dovey fantasy adventure! … Or do they?

Protocol: Rain (Quad): A group of high schoolers will try to save the local esports cafe with their pro gaming skills!

9 October

Dead Mount Death Play (GEEKTOYS) – Returning from Spring 2023: As a legendary hero nears victory against a necromancer known as The Corpse God, things take an unexpected turn with the dark sorcerer’s final gambit—reincarnation magic. This last-ditch effort catches the brave fighter off guard, and now he’s a boy named Polka Shinoyama in a whole new world! The showdown between good and evil just got epic.

10 October

After-School Hanako-Kun (Lerche): The spirit Hanako-kun and his human assistant, first-year student Nene Yashiro, keep the peace between supernatural forces and the students of Kamome Academy. When they’re not fighting to maintain balance between the living and spirit worlds, how do they spend their time? Join Hanako-kun and Nene on their adventures after school!

17 October

Heaven Official’s Blessing Season 2 (Haoliners Animation League)

After the incident at Crescent Pass, San Lang leaves Xie Lian. In the days that follow, he is summoned by Junwu to the Heaven Realm. A Heavenly Official is trapped, and Xie Lian must rescue them from the Ghost Realm. All is not as it seems. Deception, vice, and danger lurk around every corner. All will be revealed, but will Xie Lian be prepared for the truth about gods, ghosts, and mortals?

21 October

The Apothecary Diaries (Toho Animation Studio and OLM): Maomao lived a peaceful life with her apothecary father. Until one day, she’s sold as a lowly servant to the emperor’s palace. But she wasn’t meant for a compliant life among royalty. So when imperial heirs fall ill, she decides to step in and find a cure! This catches the eye of Jinshi, a handsome palace official who promotes her. Now, she’s making a name for herself solving medical mysteries!

Dubs include: Hindi

Post Office Studios delivers campaign to introduce Lego(R) Ninjago to Indian kids & parents

Kulfi Collective’s Post Office Studios has joined forces with The Lego(R) Group to deliver a campaign that introduces the Lego(R) Ninjago universe to Indian audiences.

With the goal of creating excitement and anticipation around the event, Post Office Studios was entrusted with producing a promotional short film and crafting two AR experiences to generate widespread awareness across social media platforms.

At the heart of this collaboration is a short film that transports viewers into a battle. The film chronicles the journey of Garry, a wanderer from another realm, who is suddenly thrust into the epic clash between the heroic Ninja warriors and the malevolent Lord Rapton. Set against the backdrop of the World of Ninjago torn apart by a merge-quake, Garry’s destiny intertwines with the destiny of Old & New Ninja warriors. As the suspenseful story unfolds, Garry must quickly adapt and learn the ancient ways of the Ninja to aid in their fight against Lord Rapton’s sinister plans.

The Lego(R) Group’s initiative to introduce its Ninjago IP to Indian customers began with the “Lego(R) Ninjago Dojo Academy” experience, for which Post Office Studios created all the visuals. This interactive event, hosted in various malls and cultural centres across the country, transported attendees into the spellbinding realm of Ninjago. Here, children and their parents were invited to immerse themselves in the Ninjago universe, learn about Ninja Virtues, build Ninjago Dragons Rising sets and meet the old and new Ninjas. The team at Post Office narrativised the four Ninja challenge activities of the on-ground Lego Ninjago Dojo Academy event into the storyflow of the main film, to build an integrated campaign.  Additionally, merging print media and AR technology, they designed an ad for the front page of several national newspapers with a barcode, which when scanned, showcased teaser elements from the show such as the Ninja heroes, Ninjas Mechs and dragons.

Lego(R) India brand marketing manager Manchitwan Jauhal said, “In the Post Office team – we found all the Ninja traits required to be great partners to us – focus, speed, creativity and most importantly the same wit, care, love and passion that we at the Lego(R) Group always strive for when we’re talking to the most important stakeholders of all – the builders of tomorrow – our children!”

Post Office Studios creative producer Saurabh Guleria said “We were very excited to create this nearly four-minute long 3D film for a brand that is as universally loved, the Lego(R) brand. Driven by the desire to convey a compelling story through multiple character animations, we set out to build an immersive, integrated campaign that would resonate with children across India. Collaborating with the Lego(R) Group to contribute to their storytelling universe was both a privilege and a creatively fulfilling experience.”

Post Office Studios executive producer Pouresh Turel added, “The Lego(R) brand is one that is synonymous with imagination. Our core focus was on nurturing the concept of a child’s boundless imagination. We aimed to seamlessly weave Garry’s story into the established Lego Ninjago universe, creating a challenging yet immensely rewarding narrative. Despite the constraints of time and various technical challenges, we’re proud to have created three pieces of cutting-edge immersive content that are bound by the singular idea of sparking one’s imagination.”

The film was released on social media and was played at the on-ground events hosted by The Lego(R) Group across the country to introduce the Ninjago IP.

PBS Kids to premiere ‘Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures’ on 18 October 

PBS Kids will premiere a series of 2D animated shorts Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures on 18 October. The series aimed at helping to expand the literacy skills of preschool- and kindergarten-age children is produced by 9 Story Media Group and animated by its studio Brown Bag Films.

The shorts are inspired by the Super Why! series, which premiered in 2007. In the new shorts, the literacy-powered superheroes leap into a stylised comic book world for a new storytelling twist, complete with original songs that break down key skills for early readers. 

“We are so excited to introduce Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures, with its fresh, musically-driven format, to a new generation of Super Why! fans. The dynamic comic book design makes it an aspirational Super Reader superhero experience that will support and encourage today’s budding readers,” said PBS Kids senior vice president and general manager Sara DeWitt.

Research suggests that early literacy instruction should focus on developing awareness of the segments of sounds in speech and how they link to letters though systematic instruction of phonological awareness and phonics skills. PBS Kids believes that each of the series’ 20, three-minute shorts focus on these foundational reading and writing skills, including letter-sound identification and decoding words, blending sounds and alliteration, spelling, punctuation and more, all wrapped up in an action-packed, humour-filled, and kid-relatable story.

Many of the familiar fairytale characters, known as Super Readers, from the original series are back, including Super Why, who loves comic books and has the power to read, along with Princess Presto and Wonder Red. New to the series is “super fan” Power Paige, a Super Reader who joins the team with her power pencil, which has the ability to write and erase words, letters and punctuation. Together, the Super Readers set things straight for the readers of Reader Valley – and young viewers across the country.

“It’s exciting to see Super Why! return to PBS KIDS with fresh adventures in a brand-new format,” said 9 Story Media Group SVP & creative affairs head and co-creator original Super Why! series Wendy Harris. “We’re so proud of its remarkable staying power, engaging kids and teaching early literacy skills for over fifteen years. We can’t wait to offer parents and kids Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures and create a whole new generation of Super Readers!”

Super Why’s Comic Book Adventures also introduces audiences to quirky Literacy Villains who mix up reading rules that the Super Readers must correct. These characters include: More Man, who adds an ‘s’ to the end of words to make them plural, adding more words and sentences; The Shuffler, who likes to mix things up; The Eraser, who erases letters and words; and Outta Space, an extraterrestrial who zaps spaces from between words. 

The Super Why! series was created by Angela C. Santomero (based on a concept co-created with Traci Page Johnson and Jennifer Twomey) for PBS Kids, from which the new shorts are inspired. Super Why! was the first preschool show designed to help children learn to read through interactive storybook adventures. The series follows the magical adventures of four fairytale friends who jump into books and become reading-powered superheroes to save the day.

“When I first created Super Why! as for my Master’s Thesis at Teachers College, Columbia University, I put a lot of care, thought, and research into it, but never imagined it would influence kids to learn and love to read – 20 years later! It’s a dream come true,” said Santomero.

In addition to the series, Super Why! has an app as well as Reading Camps.

‘Elemental’ is the most viewed movie premiere of 2023 on Disney+

Last week, Disney and Pixar’s Elemental made its streaming debut on Disney +. Elemental is the most watched movie premiere of the year on Disney+ and among its Top 10 movie premieres of all time, earning 26.4 million views in its first five days of streaming.

Directed by Peter Sohn, produced by Denise Ream, and executive produced by Pete Docter, the original feature film is set in Element City, where Fire-, Water-, Earth-, and Air-residents live together. The story follows the quick-witted and fiery Ember (voiced by Leah Lewis), whose friendship with the sappy and go-with-the-flow Wade (voiced by Mamoudou Athie) challenges not only her beliefs about the world they live in, but the person she wants to be.

In its first five days of streaming, Elemental has become the most viewed animated movie premiere since Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red was released in March 2022, as well as the most viewed Disney+ movie premiere of all time in Latin America, just ahead of Turning Red.

Released in June, the film saw theatrical success, earning $484 million worldwide with a 93 per cent Rotten Tomatoes verified audience score and an “A” CinemaScore. Domestically, the film generated $154 million—more than five times its domestic opening weekend of $30 million, a rare feat for any theatrical release and the second-highest multiple behind Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story (1995). 

Internationally, the film brought in $330 million and had a particularly strong showing in South Korea, becoming Pixar’s most-seen film in the country. The Elemental screenplay is by John Hoberg & Kat Likkel and Brenda Hsueh, with story by Sohn, Hoberg & Likkel, and Hsueh. Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Catherine O’Hara, Mason Wertheimer, and Joe Pera round out the film’s voice cast.

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