Marvel Heroes Turning Japanese

US publisher Marvel Comics is partnering with top Japanese animation studio Madhouse to create brand new characters inspired by the Marvel Universe for the Japanese market.

Working closely with Marvel, Madhouse will produce cutting edge Japanese anime series based on Marvel’s world-renowned character library for the Japanese market. The characters will be adapted visually, using the unique style of Japanese anime, and their back stories and histories will interweave the local culture and history of Japan, with an eye toward making their mythology more relevant to the Japanese audience.

Marvel says this collaboration will result in a completely new character base, which will eventually cross-over into the current Marvel Universe.

Marvel has continuously looked to push the boundaries with the Marvel Universe and seek new mediums for our characters,” explains Simon Philips, President, International & Worldwide Head of Animation, Wireless & Gaming for Marvel Entertainment.

“Madhouse is helping us expand the Marvel brand with a truly global vision tailored to themes and artistic styles popular in Japan, creating a uniquely localized and cross-cultural adaptation of the Marvel Universe.

With over 35 years of experience developing and producing worldwide entertainment hits, we are confident Madhouse will be able to translate the vision of the Marvel Universe through the unique anime style, to create captivating new entertainment that will thrill both new and old fans alike.

Madhouse is currently in production on the first of four new series (12 x 30 minutes), which are scheduled to launch in spring 2010. The initial series will feature characters including Iron Man and Wolverine, among others, and Madhouse will ultimately look to adapt the entire Marvel Universe, creating in essence a whole new character base for Marvel.

We are incredibly excited to have this full collaboration with Marvel to create a completely new world that has never been done before in the Marvel Universe. This will be the first time there will be a full Japanese anime style for Marvel, and the Madhouse creative team is fully engaged to bring this to a worldwide audience, said Jungo Maruta, president and CEO of Madhouse Inc. which was established in 1972 and has produced many well-known titles such as worldwide hits Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D and Death Note.

Its 2007 film, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (pictured left) won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Animated Film.

The Marvel anime series will debut on ANIMAX, the first and largest 24-hour network dedicated to anime.

Additionally, Marvel and Madhouse will be exploring related merchandising initiatives to support the new series.

• Pictured above: A manga-ish treatment of Iron Man by William Min, with colouring and effects were done by colourist Kwinz. Found via this post by freelance illustrator and Iron Man fan Michael Cho.

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