×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hitoshi Mogi Talks Netflix Series ‘Dino Girl Gauko’

ANNECY  —  Set in a typical cosy Japanese suburb – – a two-storey detached tile-roofed house, leafy tree-lined streets, a garden – Netflix series “Dino Girl Gauko” delivers a sometimes riotous left-of-field portrait of the coming of age of an almost totally normal tween girl. Naoko Watanabi’s worries are typical: In “Dad’s Little Secret,·the episode competing this week at the Annecy Festival, for instance, she thinks Dad might be having an affair. Will he chuck her mom and her out of the house, and move his mistress in?

But the way of addressing issues of identity, security and emotion is not typical at all. When Naoko gets into a tizzy, she turns into green-skinned dragon girl Gauko, literally breathing fire, reducing a local tea place to smoldering rubble, while still wearing her cardigan and pink skirt.

Dad is a diminutive frog man. Season 1, Ep. 8, “Dad’s Little Secret” begins with a little boy on top of a neighbor’s house howling wolf-like at the moon. There’s also a flying saucer in the sky. One of the characters in the series is an alien.

Presented by creator and producer Hitoshi Mogi at June 12’s Netflix lineup presentation, clips from “Dino Girl Gauko,” a seven-minute episode series, were often thought hilarious by the industry and animation student audience in attendance. Moji commented at the presentation that Netflix told the creators not to worry about making an international series. But, if the Annecy reaction is anything to go by, the series has international resonance anyway. Mogi fielded questions from Variety just before the presentation:

From viewing just one episode, “Dino Girl Gauko” would appear to focus on the doubts and anxieties of a typical tween girl, including about her own identity – a girl at most times, occasionally a fire-belching dinosaur. Would you agree?

“Yes” for most part. But Gauko does not really show anxieties and fears of becoming a dinosaur. We are hoping that people enjoy this show as a comedy centering on an adolescent girl and her life filled with small daily struggles.

Her turning into a dino makes her commit rather embarrassing faux pas, such as burning down a local tea place. The fear of embarrassment seems big in the series….. 

She feels regret and guilt regarding her destroying cities, but we are not portraying her as someone who is afraid of turning into a dinosaur. Rather, she cannot help feeling frustration regarding the social stereotypes, irrationality, contradictions and discrimination directed at her as a dinosaur, despite the fact that she doesn’t want to become a dinosaur. We prefer to depict her as a girl with the freedom and power to feel anger in regard to social injustice.

The setting is original. It seems a typical suburb, but there’s a flying saucer, a little boy who believes he’s a wolf, and the father’s a frog-man, which causes him to be trod on, fall into a tea cup. There are moments of near surrealism. Could you comment?

“Dino Girl Gauko” is a comedy, so we just thought that it would be funnier if it included non-human characters. We do not question the setting much, which often is a product of the director’s inspiration.

How long will the episodes be? Could their length vary?

All episodes are fixed at 7mins.

Where would you situate “Dino Girl Gauko” in the context of contemporary Japanese TV animation production?

It is a character show targeted at kids. It is extremely hard to get this kind of show off the ground as a TV series in Japan, not to mention that the original “Dino Girl Gauko” work which was a web comic has not received much recognition. Sponsors tend to have little business interest in this sort of content. There are many young-adult shows with complicated storylines and elaborate sketches. I think that “Dino Girl Gauko” is one of the few works right now that has a simple storyline. The show is traditionally hand drawn and not digital, which makes it even more unique.

You, the creator Akira Shigino and writer Kimiko Ueno have all worked on “Crayon Shin-chan.” Was the series a big influence on “Dino Girl Gauko” or, if not, what animation has been an influence?

I don’t think there is any influence from “Crayon Shin-chan”. We, the creative team, have never talked about other works as a reference to “Dino Girl Gauko.”

The series is produced by Ascension Co., August Media Holdings, Synergy88 Entertainment. Could you talk very briefly about the companies? 

Ascension Co. is in charge of planning content, maintaining the original work, and making the anime content. Financial arrangements are handled by August Media Holdings and Synergy88 Entertainment.

What is your target audience? 

I think pre-teen girls will especially enjoy the show. While we have been creating the series for a kids audience, I believe it could be widely enjoyable for adults too.

How does “Dino Gauko Girl’s” being a Netflix Original  influence the series?

There might be very small influences here and there, but I can say there is no big influence or any sort of creative pressure from Netflix. Netflix gave us the freedom to create what we love, stressing that we did not have to focus on a global audience. Our intention is to lean into the stories we love, creating what we love to create.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content