Monsta employees doing animation for BoBoiBoy.

Your favourite homegrown animated superhero will be back on the big screen next year with new adventures. Balqis Lim speaks to the people behind Monsta, the production house

BoBoiBoy has been one of the biggest success stories in the entertainment industry, ranking among the top four in local films with its box office collection of RM16 million in 2016.

The creator behind the animation, Monsta (formerly known as Animonsta Studios), has announced its sequel, scheduled for August or September next year.

Besides the new movie, Monsta is also introducing a new intellectual property (IP) that they are working on.

Monsta’s Chief Executive Officer Nizam Abdul Razak says the company began focusing on its production early this year.

“After the 24-episode series BoBoiBoy Galaxy ended in June, we immediately started working on our second movie.”

Now 20 per cent into the process, the animation work process will be finished by the end of the year, but fine tuning and final mixing is targetted to be completed around March.

BoBoiBoy’s animation work will be finished by the end of the year.

The movie will have completely different storyline.

“Compared with the 2½ years we took to complete BoBoiBoy’s first movie, this time around, we will take 18 months to complete the sequel,” says Nizam.

Revealing Monsta’s collaboration with Japanese toy maker Bandai, Nizam announced their new IP, Mechamato, during the recent Kre8tif! Conference.

BoBoiBoy will still be there, and we’ll keep producing more, including the series,” says Nizam. “However, to grow in the industry, we need to explore new IPs, thus the creation of Mechamato. For Monsta’s part, we’ll do the animation; Bandai will be in charge of making the toys.”

Different to BoBoiBoy, Mechamato employs greater innovation for children by featuring robots. It is a story about the companionship between a child and his best friend, a robot.

Mechamato is a 104-episode series that will be launched in multiple countries besides Malaysia in late 2019.

“Although we have not started on its production, we have done the asset building (characters and background story). We will eventually separate into two teams to focus on both the new show and BoBoiBoy,” says Nizam.

Mechamato is a 104-episode series that will be launched in multiple countries besides Malaysia in late 2019. It will be aired on both TV and released on YouTube, like it was done with the BoBoiBoy Galaxy series.

The partnership is also a big leap for Bandai as it is the first time the company is collaborating with IPs that are outside Japan, besides the US. It’s a new strategy for Monsta as they will launch the show together with its toys.

“During BoBoiBoy, we didn’t have enough experience and credibility. Only after the first movie was done did we got a lot of partners and broadcasting companies onboard with us.

“When we presented Mechamato to Bandai, they loved the idea and even participated in improving the storyline,” says Nizam. They also presented Mechamato to Disney and Nickelodeon and both the children’s channels forsee the show to be a hit.

In this fast-changing era, audiences keep switching from one brand to another with the many choices available today. Nizam feels their challenge would be how to make new IPs in five years, as survival is crucial in the creative content industry. “I think we need to be agile, and I am sure we’ll be ready in 24 months to deliver multiple IPs,” he says.

Monsta’s Chief Content Officer Anas Abdul Aziz says in order to still be relevant and engaging, the company needs to constantly rebrand their IPs in line with the target audience.

Anas oversees the process of adding and syncing audio to the animation.

“That was what we did with BoBoiBoy, where we rebranded it to BoBoiBoy Galaxy featuring slightly grown-up characters,” he says. “We need to have a fresh look that was suitable at that point in time. After five years with Mechamato, we will also need to create another IP, we cannot be the kind of company that relies on one IP all the time.”

Anas adds: “In BoBoiBoy’s first movie too, for example, we introduced two new elements for BoBoiBoy’s superpower.”

Nizam says there are more jobs available in the industry now compared to when they were starting out. Also, with the presence of animation powerhouse OLM Inc in Malaysia (since December 2017), there are great opportunities for the industry to grow.

“The industry is very healthy right now because there are a lot of companies emerging in the market. I’m so happy to see other animation companies also coming out with their own quality movies. This is important because to rise as an industry, we cannot be dependent on one or two companies, there has to be more in order for us to be included in the global market,” says Nizam.

“The industry is very healthy right now because there are a lot of companies emerging in the market.” - Nizam Abdul Razak

Meanwhile, Anas says lots of Malaysian companies previously worked for hire by international companies — cost was low and skills, high. However, in the past five years, more local content has been available, which has also resulted in local quality getting noticed in other regions.

He says with more local companies mushrooming in the market, this also means competition for them. “We do not want our team to be complacent and not improve because they think that they are the best. We want to be at the top, and the industry can help in this and keep us in check. As they improve, we too need to improve ourselves.”

Anas also says that although competing with each other can sometimes turn bitter, at the end of the day, when there’s more animation of a higher quality, the public benefit.

Nizam says their collaboration with Bandai does not stop with this, as they also have ideas for different titles.

“We want to be able to work with Bandai not only for Mechamato but other animations in the future,” he says. “We have developed the knowledge and experience where everytime we do an animation, it has to be ‘toy-able’ in a way. So maybe, for the next one, if it’s an animation about girls, then we can work with the Bandai’s girls (toy department), for example.”

Some of BoBoiBoy’s toys and merchandise.

With 2.7 million subscribers, Monsta also has been featuring international and other local animation content on their YouTube channel. Other than the BoBoiBoy’s series, they have Pokemon Sun & Moon, Beyblade Burst, and animated series from local studios such as Giggle Garage Animations and Mind Brain Studio.

Anas says although they may not be able to assist the local companies in monetary terms, they will continue providing the platform for others to be on their channel so they can reach audiences.

(From left) Monsta’s chief development officer Safwan Karim, Nizam and Anas.