On February 1st, Sav! The World Production, based in Paris France, began a Kickstarter campaign to bring Oban Star Racers to blu-ray for the very first time. The initial goal of €30,000 ($34,052 USD) was reached in just one hour. By the 7th day of the Kickstarter campaign, all initial stretch goals had been reached. It has now passed €227,000, with the next goal being at €300,000. The Kickstarter ends on March 8th.
Oban Star Racers is a French-Japanese anime created, written, and directed by Savin Yeatman-Eiffel. It was also co-directed by Thomas Romain, who is best known for creating Code Lyoko. After working as a screenwriter within the animation industry, Savin began to feel as though recent productions of the time did not evoke the same kind of emotions he had experienced as a kid. Savin wanted to give back to kids the same kind of emotions he felt at their age when he watched shows such as Future Boy Conan, Candy Candy, and Captain Harlock. Beginning in 1997, Savin was determined to create his own original series which would require a sequential story, a female heroine, and a real emphasis on emotional content. As a first step in his creation, he started his own company he called Sav! The World Productions.
Molly, Star Racer short film:
After building up a small team, the pilot film was released in 2001. Despite Youtube and similar streaming services not being around at the time, Molly, Star-Racer had become an instant hit on the internet. The film went on to win the LAEF Award (London Animation and Effects Festival 2001), as well as being nominated for best editing Imagina Awards 2002. All of the success was still not enough to gain the kind of support and confidence of investors to back the young team on an ambitious project that included a mixture of traditional and CGI animation. Especially since Savin refused to negotiate with anyone who wanted to change the artistic choices (such as a North American company wanting to turn the main girl into a boy). Undeterred by the setbacks, the close-knit team decided to “lock itself up” in Savin’s apartment-turned-studio, only accepting work when absolutely necessary, as they fine tuned the world of Oban Star Racers down to the smallest details. In 2003, the teams’ dedication and hard work paid off, gaining the attention of several major international partners.
At the end of 2003, the team moved to Tokyo to work alongside an impressive amount of well-known creators of the Japanese animation industry. They would end up staying in Japan for 2 1/2 years as they worked closely with their Japanese collaborators, while the CGI production took place in Paris. At the time, it was very rare for a full team of artists to come to Japan to work and collaborate with the Japanese artists at the level of experience either side had.
Some notable names of people the indie company worked with in Japan include story boarders Kiyoko Sayama (Blood+, Death Note), Yoshimitsu Ohashi (Planetes, Michiko to Hatchin), Soichi Masui (Samurai Champloo, Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai); animation director Tetsuya Kumagai (Spriggan, Jin-Roh); and movie editor Takeshi Seyama (Princess Mononoke, Tokyo Godfathers).
Oban Star Racer opening, featuring “Chance to Shine”, composed by Yoko Kanno and sung by Akino:
For the music, the opening and ending was composed by Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, Macross Plus) as well as the orchestral BGM tracks composed by Taku Iwasaki (Rurouni Kenshin, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn).
Winner of an Animeland Award and a Polymanga Award and nominated for a British Academy Award, it aired very successfully in more than 120 countries including ABC Family & Toon Disney (US), NHK BS2 & Disney Channel (Japan), France 3 (France), Super RTL (Germany), GMTV (UK), RAI2 (Italy) and Jetix/Disney XD.
When the 26-episode series aired on Jetix in 2006, the show had a different, more upbeat rocky opening, performed by a band called After Midnight Project, with a song called “Never Say Never”:
If the Oban Star Racers Kickstarter continues to be a great success, there is potential for a sequel story, with the characters aging up to young adults. During a special 15th anniversary in-person fan event in Paris last year, Sav! The World Productions shared artwork of the character designs for the sequel and spinoff they would love to create.
If you would like to learn more about the Kickstarter click here: