Hanako and Stitch Hanako and Stitch

Hanako and Stitch

There’s an intriguing story in yesterday’s news wires about how Disney is producing a new TV version of Lilo and Stitch specifically targeted towards Japanese audiences. The new series, titled Stitch!, which will be produced by Japanese animation studio Madhouse (Ninja Scroll, Cardcaptor Sakura), replaces the orphan Lilo with a Japanese girl named Hanako, and transplants the setting from Hawaii to a tropical island in Okinawa, Japan. The series will premiere on Japan’s Disney channel in October.

  • I really really really really wonder what that’s going to look like.

    Sanders sold his soul, the poor guy.

  • Alex

    Awesome. I hope we get it in the states.

  • hmmm… considering that japanese anime features so many characters who are japanese neither in appearance nor story, I’m surprised that a change like that is necessary.

    Or is it the Disney style that is too jarringly different?

  • Abdul Elah

    Studio Madhouse is one of the good ones. I might have to look out for this.

  • H Park

    Wow…Talk about global localization… I wonder if Disney is just being trend conscious or do they lost all good artists who are flexible for changes?
    This feels like 80’s again. Americans providing source materials and Japanese doing grunt works.

  • James Godfrey

    Well, if it’s as good as the original series, I’ll give it a miss.

  • purin

    While I don’t really think it’s necessary (Hawaii is a popular destination for Japanese people, as I understand), I’m really curious about how the show will look and act. I wonder if the show will use the look and feel of the island it picks to the extent the movie did with Hawaii.

    And, of course:
    Will it be better than the Lilo and Stitch animated series?
    (I don’t hate it, but…)

    As soon as some comes out, let’s see some art for this!

  • Andrew

    It doesn’t sound like something Disney would do, but it IS a really good idea. I’m glad they were able to get Madhouse, though- they’re excellent.

  • Disney and madhouse in the same sentence? I never thought I’d see the day.

  • Danielle

    What Abdul said. Madhouse has put out some quality work in the past, so this series will be worth a look, at least.

  • A Longtime Observer

    I’m optimistic, though sad that we may not get to see it here. Allow me to be the first (?) to say that it is similar to the Powerpuff Girls/PPGZ example with Cartoon Network. I think that the chances of Stitch! coming to the U.S. however, is much less likely than PPGZ in my opinion.

    I have read that Japan did their own short(s) featuring Lilo and Stitch in the past. Can anyone elaborate on that??

  • HarryM

    “Sanders sold his soul, the poor guy.”

    Hardly. He got well paid to make a mildly successful cartoon. It’s a shame HE DECIDED to leave Disney.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Of course when I think of something Madhouse did years ago that might not seem like anime to some, it would probably be this…

    Would be interesting to see their take on Stitch.

  • Bugsmer

    Stitch is dead. He died in the sequel. Perhaps the Japanese will be using a ghostly or zombie-like Stitch.

  • Michael Eilerman

    Stitch is more popular than Mickey in Japan. It is not suprising that they are making a new series. Heck, Stitch took over the whole Tokyo Disneyland Resort twice and the event keep coming back.

    As for the another anime Stitch, Disney Channel Japan did a piece with Stitch and his cousins playing basketball to High School The Musical. ugh.

  • Michael Eilerman
  • MattSullivan

    What the heck? So suddenly, American animation audiences aren’t important. They’ve decided to simply skip us and cater to foriegn countries? ( Not to mention bastardizing existing properties or importing tweeny mermaid live-action shows from Australia? )

    PFFYT Think I’ll cancel my cable service ( At least the part that carries any of Disney’s “Little Girls are smart-men-are-lunkheaded and expendable” programming

  • “Little Girls are smart-men-are-lunkheaded and expendable” programming

    Didn’t you KNOW that “grrls rock??” *rolls eyes*

  • I guess this means the 5th movie “Lilo & Stitch: Stitch gets Hitched” will now never be made.

  • If Stitch is already popular in Japan, as in the Stitch from the original movie and series, wouldn’t the Japanese audience already be familiar with Lilo and the Hawaiian setting? Doesn’t this proposal entail a “reboot” of the Stitch universe?

    And if so, isn’t that a huge gamble? I mean, hey, what if what the Japanese like about Lilo & Stitch is Lilo & Stitch?

  • I think Madhouse is also Satoshi Kon’s (Tokyo Godfathers/Paprika) studio of choice but they were also responsible for the Hellboy DVD series, which was hit-n-miss. I guess the budget will dictate how the show pans out, but my interest level is pretty high. How much will the character designs change for the new series?

  • Abdul Elah

    Disney has two other projects for Japan?


  • What the heck? So suddenly, American animation audiences aren’t important. They’ve decided to simply skip us and cater to foriegn countries?
    Uh… no?

    Lilo & Stich was fairly Ghibli-inspired in the first place so could be interesting to see it reworked in Japan. Also Madhouse are good for upbudget stuff which this presumably will be, being Disney.

  • Gobo

    I’ve been to Japan recently. Stitch is HUGE. He’s everywhere. They’re OK with Lilo, but I think Stitch is currently one of the most popular Disney characters with Japanese audiences (up there with Mickey and the Pooh characters). It was rare to go to a gift store of any kind and not see items starring Stitch and/or his pink girlfriend.

  • Related topic – There is a large body of UK based animation series (Bob the Builder for example) that are dubbed with US accents for the American market.

    Why this is I’m not at all sure…

  • Abdul Elah

    I found it weird that Mad Max was also dubbed with US accents.

    @Gobo: True. I’ve been there last September. Pooh and Stitch are more popular than Mickey right now.

  • I can vouch for Stitch’s popularity as well. I walk up and down the aisles in my school and every third student has a Stitch figure attached to their knapsack/cell phone/keychain.
    Only Pooh is more ubiquitous with Mickey lagging behind at third place.
    Aristocats’ Marie is catching up too. Time for a Direct to DVD sequel for that one to boost her appeal!

  • Inkan1969

    Michael Jones, I was last in Tokyo in 2005, and I remember seeing a lot of L&S merchandise. The notable difference from the U.S. was merchandise for the other monsters from the TV series. I never say anything about those characters here in the U.S. In Japan, Stitch’s girlfriend Angel particularly got a lot of merch.

    There actually were plans to make an “Aristo-Cats” cheapquel because of Marie’s popularity, but that got nixed along with cheapquels in general. Marie’s so popular, though, that personally I wouldn’t have minded a sequel this time, just to see how Disney would play to a Japanese market. Also, according to Jim Hill


    there was a planned 2003 “Aristo-Cats” series focusing on Marie and her brothers. The thing is, though, the characters would’ve been redesigned, similar to the redesigns of characters for the “101 Dalmatians” TV series. I’m lukewarm to these designs.

    I thought the first few eps of the series were bad; curse that E/I obligation. But the scripting improved as the show progressed. And the “Leroy and Stitch” D2V finally actually has some decent animation, and is pretty funny.

  • I find this pretty disgusting. Disney is taking a perfectly good story and ruining it by placing it in Japan. I’ve always loved the Stitch story because it took place in Hawaii.

    Also, I love Disney because of their signature style. They don’t need to turn to anime to get a wider audience.

  • I’mPopeye

    “Lilo & Stich was fairly Ghibli-inspired in the first place so could be interesting to see it reworked in Japan.”

    IIRC, Miyazaki has also said in an interview that Lilo and Stitch was his favourite Disney movie.

    Personally, I don’t understand how they’ll be able to carry over the same style and message as the original Lilo and Stitch by taking it to another place that isn’t Hawaii, since the whole concept of “ohana” originate from there and are central to the region.

  • burnie


    sounds no good, but at least you get a feel for it