Good Friends with Appetite: Zephyr’s ‘Mogu & Perol’ Series Digs in at Cartoon Forum

***This article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. ’22 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 323), distributed at Cartoon Forum***

Among the many charming animated shows debuting at Cartoon Forum this year is Mogu & Perol, a new project inspired by Domo-kun creator Tsuneo Goda’s award-winning 2018 stop-motion short about two friends enjoying delicious food and living in harmony on a lush island. The team at Zephyr Animation, the production arm of renowned distributor APC Kids, was so impressed by it that they decided to develop an animated show based on the property.

David_Sauerwein
David Sauerwein

“We fell completely in love with the short and immediately saw the potential for a series,” says Zephyr producer David Sauerwein. “We then had numerous meetings with [Dwarf Animation Studio’s] producer, Yuriko Okada, and with creator/director Tsuneo Goda, during which we spoke at length about the characters and the underlying ideas of the original short film. Working together we built a foundation of trust and collaboration, and began to move forward on the development of the series.”

The producers then asked writer/story editor Marianne Barbier to come on board. “I’d worked with her during my years at Xilam, and she immediately understood what we were trying to achieve with this show,” says Sauerwein.

The project soon received support from France’s Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), and shortly thereafter, France Télévisions offered a co-development deal. To shoot the stop-motion animation test, Zephyr went to Vivement Lundi!, the Oscar-nominated studio based in Rennes, France. “We’re in the midst of this development now, with brilliant animator and director Goulwen Merret on board and a cast of carefully selected writers who really get the essence of the show,” notes the producer. The show is expected to be ready by late 2024 (all fingers crossed).

Loveable Monsters 

Among Mogu & Perol’s many attractive qualities are Goda’s eye-catching designs and the powerful draw of stop-motion animation for young viewers. “There’s something unexplainably magical about the physicality of stop-motion animation, and that is true for children just as much as for adults — you just can’t stop watching!” adds Sauerwein.

The clearly defined, memorable central characters (a shy bigfoot and a more boisterous little creature) also bring a lot of appeal to this delightful world. As Saurwein points out, “The series is 100 percent character driven, with strong and clear emotional arcs in every episode, which allows the audience to identify with our protagonists. While Mogu and Perol’s polar opposite qualities make the show exciting and funny, there’s also something both delicate and deep that comes out of the world of Mori Mori island. This is a backdrop which showcases a very harmonious way of life that leaves space for indescribable joy and wonder in this natural world.”

Mogu & Perol is only one of Zephyr’s hot properties. “We are completing the financing for our first 2D animated series, Lana Longbeard, a co-production with Canadian studio Copernicus. Production for this 52 x 11’ adventure comedy for kids six to 10, set in a fantasy world, will start before the end of 2022 with Super RTL, and we are currently finalizing initial broadcast deals for the series,” says the producer. “We have also signed a development deal on our series MiniTechs, a 3D animation for kids four to seven in co-production with Ferly, and we’re developing a 2D sitcom for kids with an international platform.”

Lionel Marty
Lionel Marty

As APC Kids’ managing director Lionel Marty explains, “About three years ago, we created our production arm Zephyr to develop our own projects as well as to co-develop and co-produce properties with partners from around the world. Both companies share the same boutique approach in our DNA: focused on building a limited number of selected IPs for international audiences, and offering an alternative to big distribution groups through carefully curated content and bespoke solutions.”

“We look for character-driven projects to cover all target groups from preschool to family, across all genres from action-adventure to comedy, and from animation to live action,” he points out. “Currently, APC Kids is looking forward to adding slapstick to our slate!”

When asked about the state of the global animation market, Marty responds, “While the market remains very interesting, we have realized the eight to 12 target requires particular attention, since within this age group animation has to compete with other media — notably video games. In order to do so, it has to play with similar tools and offer audiences engagement, graphic sophistication, strong characters, high stakes and an addictive, intricate plot. That’s the reasoning behind two new projects for eight- to 12-year olds we have coming up, both with APC Kids on the distribution side and in development with Zephyr.”

To learn more, visit aboutpremiumcontent.com.

Mogu & Perol (Zephyr Animation / APC Kids)
Mogu & Perol (Zephyr Animation / APC Kids)

 

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