A rectangular Japanese monster with sharp teeth and black eyes is set to invade Nicktoons’ airwaves as part of Nickelodeon’s first-ever development and production deal with Japan’s pubcaster, NHK. The partnership to create Domo for U.S. audiences was announced at this year’s Tokyo Anime Fair, along with a co-development deal with Japanese production house, Polygon Pictures to bring cross-cultural 3-D series Akihabara@Deep to fruition.
Domo has appeared on NHK as a set of interstitials since 1998. Created by the pubcaster’s affiliate, Domo Production Committee, the stop-motion stories revolve around the monster’s life in an underground cave he shares with a wise old rabbit named Usajii. In one interstitial currently on air in Japan, Domo finds an egg and nurtures it for days, expecting to hatch a bird. When the egg finally cracks, however, a tiny reptile appears. Our hero doesn’t see the difference, though, and spends days in the field flapping his arms to teach the little critter how to fly.
The character will be reworked into 26, two-minute shorts for Nicktoons. Its Japanese creators are overseeing its production for the American net, so the character won’t likely lose his indigenous ways of drinking tea and eating with chopsticks.
Steve Grieder, senior VP of Nickelodeon International, says this partnership with NHK will also benefit Nick’s original properties. SpongeBob SquarePants, previously only available on Nick Japan’s satellite net, is making its Japanese terrestrial series network debut on NHK’s BS2 channel this spring. The network gave viewers a taste of Nick’s top-rated show last holiday season when it ran five episodes as a special. Grieder says additional yet-to-be named Nickelodeon original properties will grab some coveted broadcast airtime in the TV market that’s only second in size to the U.S.
Nick is delving even further into Japanese co-development deals with Akiharbara@Deep. The tween-targeted CGI series, based on a manga property, merges comedy, drama and action in Tokyo’s Electrical Town. The Nick team will develop the series with Polygon Pictures, which currently produces Polygon Family, a CGI series for MTV Network Japan’s mobile download service, Flux.