Toei Animation and CJ ENM Launch Slate of Live-Action and Cartoon Series

Japan’s Toei Animation and Korea’s CJ ENM unveiled a volley of new projects on Saturday flowing from their previously-established cooperation pact.

The new shows include: a series that will be produced in both live action and animated formats; a live action series; and a third animation series.

“The genesis of this co-operation was the notion that we should play to the strengths of Korean content and Japanese animation,” said Yi Jongmin, the CJ executive who heads the joint venture’s shared control unit. “That was before we factor in language barriers and cultural differences and suffered the disruptions of the COVID pandemic.”

He was joined on stage at the Asian Contents & Film Market, on the sidelines of the Busan International Film Festival, by Washio Takashi, the Toei Animation veteran who is currently enjoying success with “One Piece Red” and Korean producing legend Tcha Seung-jae. The presentation took place a year to the day since the two companies announced their pact. Representatives from JK Film, Blaad Studio, a production company that CJ ENM acquired in 2020, also made presentations.

The dual format project is a fantasy action series that follows warriors fighting to capture the goblins who are bringing trouble to the human world. The show has a temporary English name of “Myth Chasers” and a Korean working title that translates as “Sulwha Relics Conservation Division.” Blaad’s Seo Hojin said that the live-action iteration will likely be completed in 2023, ahead of the animated show in 2024.

The “Super Girls” live action series is another fantasy-action-drama. Its story follows a group of young women working in the K-pop entertainment industry who acquire superpowers overnight in an accident. Together, they use their new powers to fight villains in the workplace.

The topic is very topical as the Japanese entertainment industry is currently going through the beginnings of the #MeToo movement. Informal organizations and the Japanese media are calling out high-placed individuals accused of sexual violence, workplace bullying and abuse of power.

The third project “Crystal” is an animation series in the fantasy-adventure-drama genre. Blaad’s Seo gave few details, describing it only as a “massive universe,” and saying that “Crystal” will likely be the first of the three joint projects to reach the market.

Yi and Washio were at pains to explain that the new projects are intended to appeal to international audiences and markets.

Toei Animation has engineered a strategic pivot pivoted to go beyond its core animation business and to capitalize on the established strength of Japanese IP to expand internationally. This is exemplified by “Saint Seiya” a big-budget live adaptation of a Manga property that shot in East Europe and is now in post-production. Washio said that the in the past three years the company has grown international revenues from 42% of its total to 62%.