CANNES — Who says Chinese animation doesn’t travel? Created by Grace Tian at Beijing’s Magic Mall and produced by Magic Mall and the U.K’s Cloth Cat Animation, “Luo Bao Bei” has performed 35% above slot average on Australia ABC 2, Eurodata TV’s Avril Blondelot will point out Saturday at MipJunior in the market’s major overview of cutting-edge trends forging a new kids and family TV landscape.
But the series has done so grafting cultures, she argues. It is written by Dave Ingham (“Shaun the Sheep”) animation was carried out by Cloth Cat.
“This is quite a standard story for 4-7 year olds about a young girl discovering the world around her,” Blondelot said Friday in Cannes. “But it’s a portrait of a modern Chinese family and blends Chinese cultural heritage with a dash of British humor and charm.”
The heritage is in its “details, gestures, names, it’s all quite subtle and it helps kids to experience a greater diversity today, as cultures from distant countries are being brought to life by animation and anime,” she added, citing India’s “Kalari Kids,” made for Amazon Prime Video, and “The Woodcutter’s Treasure,” an anime which enrolls Saudi Arabian folklore from Toei Animation and Manga Productions.
Both “Kalari Kids” and “The Woodcutter’s Treasure” bow fall 2018. Blondelot’s presentation, however, as its title implies – “Kids Audience Successes Across the Globe” focuses not only on potential success stories but more often actual hits as cultures around the world use animation to reach out to global audiences and broadcasters attempt with a sense of growing urgency to retain tweens and young teens.
One of the few graphs in the Eurodata TV study suggests that daily TV viewing by younger and older children in both the U.S. and U.K. has fallen by pretty much one hour in both countries over 2012-17, from just under four hours to three hours for U.S. 2-5s.
How can TV operators push back? One way, Eurodata TV suggests, may be by giving kids their own voice on TV. One case in point: “Esther’s Notebook,” produced by celebrated French animation house Folimage.
A banner title on Studiocanal’s Mipcom sales slate, it saw French cartoonist-director Riad Sattouf listen to real-life Esther A’s account of her life, which he then channelled into a graphic novel and now the series. The result: Upbeat, two-minute first-person episodes demo the POV of 10-year-old Esther living in Paris and talking school, friends, family, pop stars and challenges. For example: What do you do when your friends have more money than you do? Aired by France’s biggest pay TV operator Canal Plus, and targeting an age range of 10+ and families, “Esther’s Notebook” is the No. 2 best performing children’s show on its evening slot.
“It’s not an adult’s vision of childhood but a child’s. It really lets Esther talk about herself in her own words, even swearwords,” said Blondelot, pointing to a second example, “Flaskeposte fra Stillehavet,” from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. Here the director spent six months on a Pacific island with his children, who talk about how they view the experience.
Or broadcasters can attack a major source of audience seepage: “When kids grow older, boys continue to watch animated series in many countries while girls tend to turn more to live action,” Blondelot commented.
Producers are now appealing to 8-12 girls with a different take for the age group. In one of its sections, “Tween New Role Models: Badass Girls,” the Eurodata TV presentation will take in some of the early results:“Glitchers,” from Brazil’s Pushstart; “Golpea Duro, Hara,” from Chile’s Marmota Studios; and the highest-profile of all, “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power,” produced by DreamWorks Animation TV for Netflix.
“Though this is a reboot, it illustrates quite well the shift towards women empowerment. She-Ra looks more realistic, more like a real teenage girl, not so beauty queen. The atmosphere. moreover, is slightly darker in some aspects as well, which is in vogue with teens and can appeal to tweens,” Blondelot argued.
As broadcasters prove ever more ingenious in reaching out to different audiences demographies, a further trend, she added, is Old is the New Young. Blondelot cited older figures in “The Voice,” Fox’s “Cool Kids,· where retirees lives a second youth, and Germany’s “Digiclash: Der Generationen-Contest,” targeting 3-13s and punching 20% above slot average on ARD/ZDF’s KiKa. Produced by E+U TV, it pictures young teens moving offline for eight days in a house equipped like in their grandparents’ time. Shock horror. Meanwhile, people their grandparents’ age move into a house with app-driven tech and struggle bemused with digital devices.
“It shows the pros and cons of both generations and is really powerful,” Blondelot said. “It’s airing already in primetime and kids like it too.”