Barreling across a rugged 2D terrain marked by the inky lines and earth tones of the page, a young Native American boy named “Anuki” made his industry debut at a Cartoon Forum pitch session last week in Toulouse.
Produced by Pierre Meloni and directed by Yulia Aronova and Eloïc Gimenez, the fast-paced short-form development project marks the latest effort from venerable French studio Folimages – the animation house behind the Oscar-nominated “A Cat in Paris” and last year’s Annecy prizewinner “Vanille.”
Now, Folimages is back with a comic book adaptation that feels, in so many ways, like the scenes from page brought to vivid life. Fully embracing the graphic style of creators Stéphane Senegas and Frédéric Maupomé’s source comic – a bestselling, five volume series that has quickly become a modern and ubiquitous touchstone across France – “Anuki” follows the adventures of a mischievous boy living in a mythic and pre-modern natural landscape.
Like the source comic, the series will be dialogue-free, relying instead on rambunctious activity and broad character designs. At the Cartoon Forum pitch, the show’s creators likened their project to Chuck Jones’ madcap Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons, explaining that the project would swap spoken dialogue for propulsive action and comic gags.
Another key inspiration would be Mother Nature herself, as the project embraces seasonal change and natural rhythms for a narrative set entire outdoors, exploring a verdant 2D world filled with bison and beavers and bears — and ponies and lice, thrown in for good measure.
“’Anuki’ draws on our childhood stories,” explained creator Stéphane Senegas. ““We were so often alone, going out in the forest with our friends for afternoons of fun and fighting, scaring each other with snakes and boars.”
And similar to the source text, the series will equally be driven by the lead’s hot temper and short fuse. “It’s important for the character to have faults,” added Senegas, who liked Anuki’s temperamental nature to that of any (and every) child. “[The series is about] children who think that friends are a pain, but who realize that life is better with friends than without.”