How can Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi be seen as a cross-cultural show of sorts?
There's a lot of great stuff in Japan. I think there's a select group of people in the west or in the world who have been introduced and are fans of Japanese music. But I think there's a much bigger market here in the United States.
After watching the first episode of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, I have noticed that the style of animation used is very playful. Was this choice of style your decision?
I think we set the tone with Renegade Animation and they ran with it. It's important that you get the people who create a show every day, and that they get into it as well. They have an effective style, mostly the UPA style through commercials… the style for Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi
was sort of brought up from Renegade's look and feel that they have a passion about, a sort of post-modern animation field.
Basing a television show on a band, you're going up against some time-honored classics, you know... Is this a new show for a new generation?
I think there's a long history of music working great in television. We're really bringing back the theme songs for Cartoon Network. Kids love music and I think Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi's
music adds a cool factor.
And how did you come to have Andy Sturmer as the Music director?
He named "Puffy" back when he was touring in Japan with "Jellyfish"**, so he's been associated with Ami and Yumi for many years. He wrote the theme song for Teen Titans
. And we've had a mutual friend, so I've known of
him. Then there are the cultural differences between "Puffy" and us in the west. So he works not just as a music director but also as the creative producer working on the show and with Ami and Yumi. I think he trusted me, and Ami and Yumi trusted him too. He scores every episode and he has exceptional talent.
**"Jellyfish" is the name of Andy Sturmer's band.
Is the show proving to be a highly marketable program this early on?
I don't know, I think everything works together. We decided to do these shorter stories (three chapters per half-hour), where you're kind of like MTV for younger kids... bang-bang-bang, you don't give them a change to take a breath. The live direction, the animation style, and the music are all different from other shows around.
I'm the series creator in that I packaged it all together. Ami and Yumi have an amazing talent and they're professionals that are great to work with. I think Ami and Yumi could be big stars in years to come. Hopefully this show will be a lunching pad for them in the western world, and I think it's their personalities that will help the show.
What is the target demographic of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi?
Kids 6-11. I think we'll find it's mostly geared toward girls, but boys will like it too because nothing is cooler than being a rock star.
Is Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi within good company in the Fridays programming block?
Oh absolutely. It's a funny show and I think it's got great animation, Yeah I think it's going to fit great there.
Are you excited for the release in November? Is there a tension in the air at Cartoon Network offices when a new original program is released like this?
If anything, it is. Premiering new shows is can be stressful. I'm glad its just television, imagine those guys that make fifty million dollar movies--imagine what they go through.
You're putting yourself out there when you do stuff like this. When you're doing something you care about; you hope it works, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't.