Everything from a Japanese detective who’s a literal butt to a new preschool series by Rocko’s Modern Life creator Joe Murray appear in our latest tv roundup, where we look at animated series that have been announced for development, production, or distribution.
NHK: Butt Detective
Oshiri Tantei (Butt Detective), an anime series based on a series of popular picture books, premiered on Japan’s NHK Educational TV network on May 3. The series is produced by Toei Animation and directed by Hiroki Shibata (Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Gegege no Kitarō) with Natsuko Takahashi (My Love Story!!, Moyashimon) as head writer.
The first Butt Detective picture book, written by Yōko Tanaka and illustrated by Masahide Fukasawa (they collectively work under the name Troll), was published by Poplar in 2012. The series now has around 2 million copies in print and consists of six picture books and five books for grade schoolers. A trailer associated with the series first debuted on Toei’s Youtube channel in May 2017, and more promotional shorts followed last August and December. All the videos have English, Korean, and traditional Chinese subtitles available.
Butt Detective follows the stinky crime-solving adventures of the titular character, a detective with a head shaped like a butt, voiced by Yuko Sanpei (Boruto). Butt Detective’s four-legged sidekick Brown is voiced by Ayaka Saito (Jewelpet’s Ruby). Also included among the cast are Ikkei Watanabe, Takahiro Sakurai, Kaitō U, Reika Uyama, and Gaku Kudō.
Youtube Premium: Dallas & Robo
The series Dallas & Robo was produced by Shadowmachine, the animation studio behind Netflix’s Bojack Horseman and Comedy Central’s Jeff & Some Aliens. Eight half-hour episodes premiered last Wednesday, May 30, on WWE’s Youtube Premium channel, which is the newly-rebranded Youtube Red subscription service at a higher price point.
Dallas & Robo was created by Mike Roberts, director on Final Space and Triptank, and executive produced by Alex Bulkley, co-owner of Shadowmachine.
Anthony Stacchi, a director on the Oscar-nominated Boxtrolls, served as supervising director for all eight episodes. Writers include Matt Mariska and Andy Sipes.
The series is a buddy comedy that follows space trucker Dallas, voiced by Kat Dennings, and AI-robot Robo, voiced by John Cena, who also executive produced. Other cast members are Jane Lynch (Glee), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live), Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow), Nat Faxon (Friends From College), and Dana Snyder (Aqua Teen Hunger Force).
PBS: Let’s Go Luna! and Molly of Denali
The PBS Kids animated social studies series Let’s Go Luna! is set to premiere November 21 on PBS stations, the PBS Kids channel, and PBS Kids digital platforms. The series creator is Joe Murray, who also created Nick’s Rocko’s Modern Life and Cartoon Network’s Camp Lazlo! Dave Brown (Numb Chucks, Octonauts) directs.
Let’s Go Luna! is being produced by Dublin-based animation studio Brown Bag Films, the studio behind Doc McStuffins, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and The Magic School Bus: Rides Again. Brown Bag Films was acquired in 2015 by Canada’s 9 Story Media Group.
The upcoming series was inspired by a lack of social studies education for young children. Let’s Go Luna! aims to expose its 4–7-year-old audience to cultures from all over the world and help build the skills necessary for kids to become global citizens. The three main characters of the show are a wombat, a butterfly, and a frog who travel the world with their parents’ traveling performance troupe, “Circo Fabuloso.” Their guide throughout the series is Luna the Moon, voiced by Judy Greer.
The show will be storyboard-driven, a rarity for preschool shows. Each 11-minute episode is developed in consultation with cultural advisors from each region the Circo visits. The writers then work with board artists to create visually-driven narratives that highlight each city’s distinctive landscape and features. Songs will use regional musical styles and instrumentation, and interstitials feature traditional folktales associated with each location.
PBS Kids has also announced another series, Molly of Denali, to debut in summer of 2019. Public broadcaster WGBH Boston is producing the show, which will be broadcast across multiple platforms like Let’s Go Luna! The series, which is part of the Ready to Learn Initiative and partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is currently in production. A slate of 38 half-hour episodes and a one-hour special is planned.
Molly of Denali’s 10-year-old protagonist Molly Mabray is an Alaska Native girl who helps her parents run the Denali Trading Post in the fictional village of Qyah, Alaska. Core to the mission of this show is exploring and celebrating Alaska Native cultures. Each episode will include two 11-minute stories, as well as live-action segments featuring real children and regions in Alaska. Part of the show’s format is a vlog presented by Molly, who shares research on and experiences from her own heritage with the rest of the world.
WGBH Boston and Atomic Cartoons, who is handling animation, are committed to collaborating with Alaska Native consultants, voice talent (including the lead role of Molly), writers, and a team of language advisors. Vancouver-based Atomic will also host Alaska Native interns for production and animation roles. Princess Daazhraii Johnson, an Alaska Native producer based in Fairbanks, Alaska, is serving as creative producer for the series.
“I’m especially excited that Alaska Native children will get to see themselves in Molly, who’s such an inspiring role model for all kids,” says Johnson in a press release. “The project’s Alaska Native advisors worked hard to ensure that our children will get to see our beautiful cultures in a respectful light.”
Disney Channel/Disney XD: Star Wars Resistance and Big City Greens
Production is currently underway on Star Wars Resistance, the next animated series of Star Wars canon, to premiere this fall on Disney Channel in the U.S. Following its U.S. debut, the show will air on Disney XD channels around the world.
Star Wars Resistance is, of course, being produced by Lucasfilm Animation, and is helmed by several Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels veterans, including show creator Dave Filoni, executive producers Athena Portillo and Justin Ridge, and art director Amy Beth Christenson. Brandon Auman, a story editor on recent episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is also executive producing.
Resistance, which Filoni says is “anime-inspired,” is set in the time before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and follows young pilot Kazuda Xiono, who is recruited by the Resistance to spy on the First Order. New characters will accompany the already established, such as Poe Dameron and Captain Phasma, whose roles are being reprised by their live-action actors Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie, respectively. The droid BB-8 also appears.
Other voice actors include Christopher Sean (Days of Our Lives), Scott Lawrence (Legion), Myrna Velasco (Elena of Avalor), Donald Faison (Scrubs), Bobby Moynihan (Ducktales), Jim Rash (Community), and Rachel Butera (Tammy’s Tiny Tea Time).
Another upcoming Disney series, Big City Greens, has been renewed for a second season ahead of its debut. The Disney Television Animation-produced show was created by brothers Chris and Shane Houghton, who also created the comic book series Reed Gunther. The pair has worked together on other animated series, such as Harvey Beaks, for which they wrote episodes.
The Houghton brothers are also executive producing alongside Rob Renzetti (My Life as a Teenage Robot), while Monica Ray (writer, Harvey Beaks) and Natasha Kline (storyboard diretor, Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh) serve as directors.
Big City Greens shorts will roll out on Disney Channel and Disney Channel’s Youtube starting on June 16, ahead of the series premiere June 18 on Disney Channel, Disney Now, and Disney Channel VOD. New episodes will air daily through June 22 as part of Disney Channel’s Go! Summer.
Big City Greens centers on the adventures of 10-year-old Cricket Green and his family, who have just moved from the country to the big city. Cricket is voiced by Chris Houghton, with Artemis Pebdani (Scandal) playing Gramma Alice, Marieve Herington (How I Met Your Mother) as Cricket’s older sister Tilly, and Bob Joles (Puss in Boots) as their dad Bill. Guest voices include Jon Hamm, Danny Trejo, Raven-Symone, Paul F. Tompkins, Lauren Lapkus, and Busta Rhymes, among others.
Coinciding with the series premiere, the Disney Now app will also unveil its first multi-player game Big City Battle!, where players compete against each other to earn their place as members of the Green family.