7/15/1989 Movie 94 minutes Tokyo Movie Shinsha/Kinetics (distributed by Tôhô Tôwa)
Director (with William T. Hurtz)
Storyboard (with Tomizawa Nobuo, Tomonaga Kazuhide & Ôtsuka Yasuo)
Producer: Fujioka Yutaka
Concept for screen: Ray Bradbury
Screenplay: Chris Columbus, Richard Outten
Based on the comic strip by Windsor McKay: Little Nemo in Slumberland
Music by Thomas Chase & Steve Rucker
Songs by Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
Conceptual design: Jean "Moebius" Giraud
Design development: Brian Froud, Paul Julian, Tomonaga Kazuhide, Ken Mundie, Corney Cole, Tomizawa Nobuo
Animation directors: Tomonaga Kazuhide & Tomizawa Nobuo
Art director: Yamamoto Nizô
One of the biggest projects in anime history, Nemo was also one of the biggest disappointments. Production began in 1982 and the film was not finished until 1989, with individuals such as Hayao Miyazaki and Osamu Dezaki becoming involved along the way at various points only to drop out before actual production started. The project was producer Yutaka Fujioka's brainchild: His dream for years had been to make a full-animated film which would be a hit in America. As the first step towards realizing this project, in 1977 he personally flew to Monterrey, CA to convince McCay's descendents to allow him to obtain the film rights to McKay's comic strip, and the film was officially announced as a project in 1982. In February of that year, the company TMS/Kinetographics was formed in America to produce Nemo, and the best staff from around the world were gathered together to begin production. Among those scouted at this time were Ray Bradbury, who wrote the original scenario of the film, and Gary Kurtz (Star Wars), who was appointed producer of the American production side. In August, a group of 14 Japanese animators including Yasuo Ôtsuka, Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, Yoshifumi Kondô and Nizô Yamamoto flew to California to meet with the American production team, and while there attended lectures by famed Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. However, soon after this, first Miyazaki and then Takahata dropped out of the project. Essentially, Miyazaki was not interested in creating an animated film where everything was a dream, and Takahata was more interested in creating a story depicting Nemo's growth as a boy (ie, à la Anne). Finally even Kurtz dropped out as producer in August 1984. However, the first glimmer of hope for the project came in December 1984, when after 6 months of work Yoshifumi Kondo (director), Kazuhide Tomonaga (Animation director/E-konte/Key animation), Nobuo Tomizawa (Key animation), Kyôko Tanaka (Key animation) and Nizô Yamamoto (Art director) completed the first pilot, a 3 ½-minute film shot entirely in 70mm, full of impressive flight sequences that give Porco Rosso a run for its money. It was glowingly praised by the American production side, and for the first time had the American staff and sponsors feeling the project might just be feasible. Unfortunately, Kondô was also to drop out in March of 1985. Little progress was made until January 1988, when the many ideas pasted on the walls of the Los Angeles studio were whittled down in order to create the storyboard from which the film would be made. It was at this point that Frank and Ollie recommended Bill Hurtz for the post of director, and that Masami Hata was appointed director of the Japanese production side. Actual animation for the final film was commenced in June 1988, and 8 months later -- 2645 days since the project was first launched -- Nemo was completed. Two other pilots exist: a 5-minute film by Sadao Tsukioka; and a 10 1/2-minute film produced in 1987 by director Osamu Dezaki, animation director Akino Sugino, and art director Shichirô Kobayashi. (information gathered from Nemo LD box and Sakuga Ase Mamire by Yasuo Ôtsuka)


HOME© Benjamin Ettinger