Project Name: Coluboccoro
End Date: 4/30/2015
What Is It?
Coluboccoro is an original animated feature by Kenji Studio. The title is based on a concept by Kenji Itoso (Santa Company), which originally made its way into the world in 2007. The original feature was created as part of the Anime Innovation Tokyo event, and took the grand prize at 2011’s Creative Market Tokyo event.
Coluboccoro is set in a time and place long lost to humanity. In a kingdom without a name is a town with a ruler unlike any other. Suzu is a girl who lost her parents at a young age. Her life has been one rules and regiments, as she is being groomed to be the next sovereign figure of the town.
Over the years, though, Suzu had come to have doubts about her lifestyle, and her place in the world around her. She decides to take matters into her own hands one day, when she sneaks out of the palace to trek to the one place she was told to never set foot. This place, known as The Forbidden Grounds, is a place that many have never seen, as it lay far above the town itself. It is here, though, that Suzu finds a mysterious seed, the likes of which she’s never seen.
She takes the seed home, where she plants and waters it. Within moment, the seed sprouts from the earth, followed shortly by a mysterious creature!
This strange creature drives Suzu to return to the Forbidden Lands, curious to know what it is, and where it comes from. Beyond the boundaries of this place where man was to never tread is a world, unlike any other. It is here, that all possibilities gather, leading to just one prevailing truth.
Itoso will serve as Producer, Director, Screenwriter, and Animator on the project, with Kenji Studio providing additional production support. Actress Emiri Kato (Soul Eater, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya) will play a dual role as leading characters Suzu and Coluboccoro, while Kouki Miyata (Free! Eternal Summer, Yowamushi Pedal) will provide the voice of Suika.
Notable Reward Tiers
Note: All tiers represented in US Dollars
- $25: Digital download of Coluboccoro
- $40: Digital download of Coluboccoro and Santa Company
- $60: Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Download of Coluboccoro
- $100: Art of Coluboccoro Art Book, Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Download of Coluboccoro
- $110: Santa Company Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Downloads for Coluboccoro and Santa Company
- $150: Art of Coluboccoro Art Book, Santa Company Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Downloads for Coluboccoro and Santa Company
- $200: Signed Art of Coluboccoro Art Book, Listing in the film’s Credits, Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Download for Santa Company
- $250: Signed Art of Coluboccoro Art Book, Listing in the film’s Credits, Santa Company Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Downloads for Santa Company and Coluboccoro
- $300: Signed Art Print, Unreleased Footage & Commentary PDF, Signed Art of Coluboccoro Art Book, Listing in the film’s Credits, Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Download for Santa Company
- $500 (Limited – 2): Hand-drawn art piece by Kenji Itoso, Unreleased Footage & Commentary PDF, Signed Art of Coluboccoro Art Book, Listing in the film’s Credits, Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Download for Santa Company
- $1,000 (Limited – 8) Coluboccoro Action Figure, Supervisor credit, Signed Art Print, Unreleased Footage & Commentary PDF, Signed Art of Coluboccoro Art Book, Santa Company Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Coluboccoro Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, Digital Downloads for Coluboccoro and Santa Company
- $5,000 (Limited – 1) Executive Producer credit, Backer cameo in film, Coluboccoro Action Figure, Hand-drawn art piece by Kenji Itoso, Unreleased Footage & Commentary PDF, Signed Art of Coluboccoro Art Book, ColuboccoroColuboccoro Digital Download
Notable Stretch Goals
$100,000: Expand Coluboccoro to a full 30-minute feature.
Note: $190,000 and $235,000 tiers are available, though they haven’t yet been revealed
Why Profile This Title?
Coluboccoro is a KickStarter project that covers every one of the bases. Itoso has proven with Santa Company that he can not only work, but thrive within the confines of a crowd-funded production.
Santa Company, which was estimated to hit in December 2014 (in time for the holidays!), launched two months ahead of schedule. The feature was well-received, to the point that fans successfully backed $25,000 for an art book based on the title.
What we’ve seen of the feature, both in trailers and production art, has been nothing short of enthralling. The characters are lively and attractive, and the world looks to be a place that begs to be explored further. The concept is proven to be a winner, as the original Coluboccoro short was a hit in film festivals across the globe.
The scope of the project is reasonable, with a 13-month timeline from start to completion. The tiers and extras are sensible, and cover the core “wants” from fans, including Blu-Rays, digital downloads, art books, and prints. At the same time, the campaign provides an in to Itoso’s work with several options giving away his début work, Santa Company.
The $38,000 goal is definitely both attainable and sensible, given the typical breakdown of costs and fees. With its current trajectory, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Coluboccoro reach its first stretch goal, at the very least.
I have to admit there is also a bit of personal bias, here. I respect and admire those who take on the task of cel animation. It’s an art that’d dying in the modern animation world, thanks to advances in digital production. However, there’s a certain warmth to animated features made with the old “ink and paint” technique that’s difficult to really place. It’s admirable that Itoso is giving it his all to keep this art form alive, in today’s anime scene.
Itoso-sensei and the folks at Awesome Japan were wonderful. They sent us a large number of production stills and concept art pieces that we didn’t want to see going to waste! Rather than do that, we’ve provided our favorites below. Enjoy!
For this segment, we conducted an e-mail interview with Kenji Itoso. We want to extend our thanks to him for taking the time to discuss the project with us!
Note: Minor edits made for clarity
Anime Herald: For those who haven’t heard of Coluboccoro, could you tell us a little bit about the project?
Kenji Itoso: With Coluboccoro, I wanted to make a film that would allow you to enjoy that feeling of wonder you get when encountering a whole different culture for the first time.
It is what I would like to call a sci-fi eco-fantasy, describing the chance meeting of a young girl and a forest spirit, and their adventure together.
Anime Herald: What led you to revisit Coluboccoro as a film?
Kenji Itoso: There are two reasons. The first is that I felt there had been some unresolved issues (in the original version), so wanted to add a few scenes that would bring more closure.
The second is because I still felt there were was a message I wanted Coluboccoro to be a vehicle for. What that is exactly, you will have to watch the film for.
Anime Herald: What would you say are your biggest influences in creating the world of Coluboccoro? Are there any works in particular that you are taking inspiration from?
Kenji Itoso: I would have to say a lot of the inspiration for this film had come from traveling and seeing the different scenery and landscapes from around the world.
I remember thinking how interesting a world it would make to have an eclectic mix of Japanese and Western architectural structures all interwoven together.
Then I imagined that city, with nature being lost, completely buried under all of these buildings. And then there, of all places, would a spirit of the forest be born. That concept I found particularly intriguing.
Anime Herald: Since this is your third crowd-funded project, were there any lessons you learned over the course of that previous drive that you’ve been able to apply this time around?
Kenji Itoso: Well, the first thing is you have to do is keep close communication with your supports. That is why I have teamed up with Awesome Japan. They have helped to get the word out before the project went live and maintain that communication.
The other was to make a promotional video that was suited for a Kickstarter project. The first project I did not have the anime ready in time for the opening day, so my video consisted of material that was still unfinished. I felt that had been a mistake.
Anime Herald: Coluboccoro has a distinct visual flavor to it. How did you come to use this specific style for the feature?
Kenji Itoso: I start off by trying out sketches of just stuff I like and work the concept from there. Taking those ideas, I am not afraid to mix in anything. Through that process the unique qualities will just happen by themselves organically, and that is something I am happy to live with. I intentionally went for incongruity, a feeling that something was out of place by blending different cultures together.
Anime Herald: If Coluboccoro proves to be successful, what would you like to see come from the project? Where would you like to go with the feature going forward?
Kenji Itoso: This film Coluboccoro and the previous Santa Company, share a number of things in common and in making a series of them with the next film I have planned, they will work together where you will see all of the different connections.
I would also hope the anime could be used to contribute to the message of social responsibility and have the anime shown at eco related events around the world.
Anime Herald: As a student of Hayao Miyazaki and the late Satoshi Kon, what would you say is the greatest lesson you’ve learned through your studies? How has this guided you in your work on Coluboccoro and Santa Project?
Kenji Itoso: There is so much I did learn, but to never give up, settle for nothing but your best work and to think about what you are doing, I would have to say are what stick with me. That, and the skill to put in and keep below the surface of your story, those things in your life in which you cannot abide.
Both Santa Company and Coluboccoro are on one level family oriented affairs, but on another level have etched in them heavy themes that do not have straight answers.
Anime Herald: Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Kenji Itoso: Knowing that it may not be possible to fund one full-length feature through Kickstarter, I planned to make three connecting short films, and by getting them funded one at a time, would end up making the full length feature.
The process is slow this way and since no one has gone this direction before, it has given me pause, but it has allowed me to grow together with all of the fans, and I would hope the project turns into a continuing relationship with those who choose to back me. So everyone, I look forward to your support!