ANNECY, France — Brazil is the guest country of honor at this year’s Annecy Festival, and is well represented in all of the festival’s competitions. In TV, two series made the cut, stop-motion “Angeli the Killer” and, for younger and older audiences alike, “Jorel’s Brother” will represent the South American nation.
“Jorel’s Brother” features the episode “Special Eject” as its competition entry. In it, a giant birthday cake, a puppet of William Shakespeare and a team of Japanese heroes with microwave bodies invade Japan after Jorel’s brother uses the Special Eject button on the family’s VCR. Jorel’s brother is whisked away to Japan in a race against time to save the island nation.
Copa Studio produced along with Cartoon Network Latin America; Copa’s Zé Brandão talked to Variety about the series, creator Juliano Enrico’s influences and the possibilities for further distribution.
What were some of the major influences for “Jorel’s Brother”? I get a very “Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” vibe, and the episode in competition shows off some anime.
You got it right. Juliano Enrico, “Jorel’s Brother” creator, came up with the main characters using his own family as an inspiration. So it makes sense that his childhood and everything he loved as a kid plays a major role on the show’s universe and aesthetics. “Flapjack” is one of Juliano’s favorite cartoons, alongside with “The Cow and the Chicken” and “Dexter’s Lab.”
On the other hand, we Brazilians were heavily exposed to anime, especially in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, when all of the show’s writers, storyboarders, designers and animators were kids. In this particular episode, “Special Eject,” the story happens in Japan, so the team took it as an opportunity to pay homage to everything we love about anime.
The themes in this series are geared towards younger audiences, but the humor works for adults too. What kind of success has Jorel had with older audiences?
There’s no doubt that “Jorel’s Brother” is a kid’s show, but I think that the first child we try to please is the one that still lives inside Juliano and the rest of the team. So our themes, stories and situations usually have two layers: One for the kids, and one for the grownups. To put the two audiences together we use superglue, non-sense humor. So, yes, “Jorel’s Brother” has a lot of faithful fans in their 20s, 30s and 40s. They love the little references and Easter-eggs we put in the background, like vintage toys and ’80s movies parodies. They watch the show together with their children, transforming an episode premiere into a family event.
How is the show’s production structured?
“Jorel’s Brother” is a Copa Studio and Cartoon Network Latin America co-production. Almost everything – from animatics to final deliveries, including art and animation – is produced in house, in Copa Studio HQ in Rio de Janeiro. The exception is sound (voice recording, music, sound effects, final mix…) which is made in Ultrassom Music Ideas. The scripts are handled by a creative collective called “TV Quase”, a group of writers, actors and comedians founded by Juliano Enrico and four of his most talented friends, back in the early 2000’s in his hometown, Vitoria.
Where is the show broadcast now, and are there plans for international?
Right now it’s only on pay TV – Cartoon Network Latin America. But we should announce the landing of “Jorel’s Brother” on VOD platforms very soon. For now, we are in all of Latin America, but so far the rest of the world is uncharted territory. But I have to say: Not for long.