DUBAI: The first major animated feature of Manga Productions & Toei Animation, ‘The Journey’ premiered on June 15 at the Middle East’s Vox Cinemas in Dubai.
Prior to the premiere, a discussion panel for the press was held with the attendance of Essam Bukhary, CEO of Manga Productions, Farah Arif, Art Director assistant at Manga Productions, Toni El Massih, Chief Content Officer at Vox Cinemas and Nassar Al Nassar, the Arabic voice of movie protagonist ‘Aws.’
The speakers at the discussion panel shared their thoughts and experiences about the film’s production and release.
Speaking exclusively to Arab News Japan, Arif said they were “very excited for the movie” as it has been in the works since 2018. “It’s finally being released in the cinemas so that we can share it with the people. We are looking forward for the feedback of the people who will watch the movie as it will have surprises for them in terms of the story, characters and art style that will take them to a journey of new experience for animation quality & storytelling.”
Chief Content Officer at Vox Cinemas said ‘The Journey’ is the first major Japanese-Saudi animated feature to release in the region.
“Our expectations for the movie release is positive as there is a big demand from the audience around the Middle East region who are looking forward to watch it at the cinemas,” he added.
Al Nassar, the Arabic voice of movie protagonist ‘Aws’ also said: “I was very pleased to do the voice of movie’s protagonist ‘Aws’ and I want to give my gratitude to the amazing artists who worked so hard on the sketches & scenes of the movie in a very innovative way.”
He recommended that all anime fans and those interested in the Arab world’s history to watch the movie.
“The story of the movie is about an era where we heard so many beautiful stories in our childhood & we are happy to watch these stories to be animated in a very beautiful way,” he explained.
Manga Productions CEO Bukhary shared his experience & thoughts about the movie, saying: “We have started the movie of ‘The Journey’ from zero point with Toei animation and the first condition we made is to provide opportunities & internships training to our young talents, we started & worked hard with Toei animation to make this movie.”
The CEO added that the movie will soon be released in nine countries in the Middle East, and in Japan next week.
“At the end, the real heroes of this movie are the young talents from Saudi Arabia who are our assets & we very proud to export our content & creativity to Japan,” Bukhary said.
The movie’s narrative is set in the Arabian Peninsula 1500 years ago, and tells the story of its hero, Aws Bin Jubair.
The Japanese version of the movie features famous voice actors including the Gundam series’ Tōru Furuya, Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Kotono Mitsuishi, working alongside Hiroshi Kamiya, Kazuya Nakai. Yuichi Nakamura and Takaya Kuroda.
Kobun Shizuno famous for his work on the Detective Conan films directed the movie, and Pokémon’s Atsuhiro Tomioka wrote its script. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game’s Tatsurō Iwamoto was the film’s lead character designer, and Kaoru Wada, famous for his work in Ninja Scroll, Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, Inuyasha, Ace Attorney composed the music for the movie.
The movie was first announced in May 2019 and was previously planned for release at the end of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the release of the movie was delayed to summer 2021.
Manga Productions is a subsidiary of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, also known as MiSK, and named in honor of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The company aims to create animation, comic, and video game projects to “promote Saudi ideas and messages internationally.”