DUBAI: Saudi Arabian artist Jarrah Yousef Alfurieh is considered as one of the biggest contributors and most passionate supporters of “Dinosaur War Izenborg” series in the Middle East region.
Exclusively to Arab News Japan, Alfurieh shared his inspiration for Japanese anime and manga: “I was watching Arabic Dubbed Japanese anime shows, Warner Bros. cartoons and Disney movies since I was 4 years old, these amazing shows came to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East for the first time between the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and it was such wonderful and majestic period.”
“My favorite Japanese anime series are: Dinosaur War Izenborg, UFO Robot Grendizer, Mazinger Z, Takarajima (Treasure Island), Astroganger, Captain Tsubasa, Future Boy Conan, The Rose of Versailles (Lady Oscar) and so many more,” he added.
Alfurieh is known as the co-creator of “The Return of Izenborg”, a Japanese-Arabic documentary produced as a collaboration between the Japanese company Tsuburaya Productions and Cultures Factory (an NLC company). It is the first Arabic-Japanese production in the art of Japanese Tokusatsu, which is a special live action effects category. This documentary was filmed in 2016 and aired on Friday December 15, 2017 on the Arabic channel Spacetoon. The documentary was translated back to Japanese by Tsubaraya and officially streamed on YouTube on December 29, 2017.
Alfurieh said: “The starting point of the project was at the end of 2015 where the discussions with Tsuburaya Productions started with me and my younger brother Abdulaziz along with Nagakawa from Cultures Factory (an NLC company) about making the project of reviving ‘Dinosaur War Izenborg’ in a new way.”
“Cultures Factory where my brother used to work in was the Middle ring between me and Tsuburaya Productions, we have agreed to do a new documentary movie for Dinosaur War Izenborg and I wished to see behind the scenes clips for the documentary, but Tsuburaya told us that these clips doesn’t exist anymore and only pictures are available for them.”
“After I was informed about the issue, I realized that we cannot have the documentary with only pictures and interviews. So, me along with my brother Abdulaziz and Nagakawa agreed to do a new episode of ‘Dinosaur War Izenborg’ inside the documentary.”
He continued: “After that, we arranged the budget and prepared the idea that we want for the documentary project. Of course, Tsuburaya Productions at the beginning told us that we need to change and improve the original design of Izenborg, I refused the idea of changing anything about Izenborg’s design for the project. I was aware of Tsuburaya’s direction and focusing on the new generation, but my main goal of this project was to make my generation who raised watching the original Izenborg series very happy with characters and monsters’ original designs.”
“Thankfully, Tsuburaya Productions accepted my request of keeping the original designs of Izenborg and other characters for the documentary project and I was very pleased when they sent me the pictures of them. Then, they sent me the details and storyboard for the new episode and I liked some of it but the thing was missing was the fight of Izenbo against Ululu as the original was showing his fight just against the battle vehicle ‘Izenborg-Go’ and I have been sending them my ideas and suggestions for the storyboard of the new episode and they have accepted them and adding more details in it from their side.”
“About 90% of what I wanted was done in the documentary project and I was very satisfied with it. Also, the team at Tsuburaya Productions was very excited about making a new episode of Izenborg in the documentary movie and I went to Japan in 2016 to see the work on the new episode and visited the production studio. We have met Mr. Shinichi Ooka (Tsuburaya Productions previous president) and we did an interview with him about the popularity of ‘Dinosaur War Izenborg’ and add it in the documentary project. After that, I saw the work on the new episode with the scenes and characters in it and we took pictures along with Nakagawa and Mr. Shinichi Ooka and they were wonderful moments”.
“It was a wonderful thing to bring Mr. Falah Hashim (The original Arabic voice for Tachibana Zen in the original series) to do the narration of the Arabic version of the documentary project and many fans in the Middle East region were very happy to hear his voice in a new project for Izenborg. The Arabic translation for the Arabic version was done by my brother, Abdulaziz Alfurih and Furat Bantan”.
“There is also an important note that I would to clarify to everyone and that’s the documentary project of ‘The Return of Izenborg’ is an exclusive project only between me, my brother Abdulaziz and Nagakawa from Cultures Factory (an NLC company) along with Tsuburaya Productuions, we didn’t get any government support for the project,” he added.
About the challenges during the production of “The Return of Izenborg” documentary project, Alfurieh said: “One of the challenges for the project was the differences of opinions between me and Tsuburaya Productions in terms of the shooting the scenes and music in the documentary project as an example, The original Izenborg series was different from the classic Ultraman series in terms of the action and movements and I wanted to keep that feature in the new episode. So, everyone in the production worked on the same original Izenborg style and I’m happy of the final product of the project.”
“Also, I wanted to feature the documentary project in Japan at that time. But, Tsuburya Productions refused my request as they explained that the project is being only focused for the Middle East region and I have accepted their terms and mentioned that hopefully release it through DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s in Japan and other countries around the world in the future” he added.
Alfurieh was very pleased and excited for the latest Dinosaur War Izenborg comic book that was released last December by Japanese translation and publishing company Phase 6 and being done by American illustrator Matt Frank, also known as the “King of Kaiju,” teamed up with international manga artist Hiroshi Kanatani, creator of “COARAPTOR, KAIJU of the WIND.”
Alfurieh said about the latest Dinosaur War Izenborg comic book: “We were all excited during the past years to see new and different releases (i.e. OST, figures, DVD’s, etc…) from the original Izenborg series, Thankfully these releases are being released in recent years and we were shocked we heard about the release of a new comic book for Izenborg.”
“I was very pleased and surprised to see a new comic for Izenborg similar to Ultraman, Kamen Rider and other Tokusatsu franchises and I want to give my special gratitude for both Matt Frank and Hiroshi Kanatani for their amazing efforts and wonderful collaboration in creating this exciting comic book for Izenborg.”
“Their collaboration is similar to the ‘union’ feelings in the original Izenborg series that talks about strength in union and that’s were the union of both American and Japanese artists brought this comic book to life,” he added.
“We were sad that the Izenborg comic book was delayed from its original release back in summer 2021, but we were happy for the comic release last December and I got my copy of the comic book and I was really amazed about it especially the story where they took the script from the original series and edited and adding new character in it.”
“I loved the distinguishing designs for both the human characters and the dinosaurs in the comic and it was a smart move by both Matt Frank and Hiroshi Kanatani to make the comic book similar to the original series where it was a combination of live action and animation, that feeling is being presented in the comic book in a very remarkable style and I want to praise them for this amazing idea.”
Alfurieh is putting hope for a new project for ‘Dinosaur War Izenborg’ following the release of “The Return of Izenborg” in the future. He is wishing from the fans around the world to support any new items or merchandises for the series as well other Tsuburaya Productions’ franchises to fund and support their new projects.