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Saudi's first anime film The Journey gets a Hollywood premiere

The Journey will premiere at the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater…

Saudi Arabia might not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think about anime, but that’s all set to change. The kingdom has created its first anime film, The Journey, and it’s set to premiere in Hollywood on Tuesday 19 April.

The film will premiere at Hollywood’s iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater, which is next to the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame. Film premieres at the theatre have ranged from Star Wars to Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The Journey is directed by Shizuno Kobun, and the whole film took two and a half years to be completed. The production company behind it is Manga Production Company, a subsidiary under Saudi Arabia’s MiSK Foundation.

The film is set 1,500 years ago, and it is inspired by Arabian folklore as well as Islamic history. When an invader threatens to destroy the Kaaba, one of the most sacred sights in Islam, it causes an outcry among locals. As people in Mecca decide to defend the sight, one of them is Aus, a potter with a dark past. As Aus goes on a journey to defend his city, we see how he is motivated by his Islamic faith to protect the sight.

While the film has already been released in Saudi Arabia, this marks a crossover moment. The Kingdom has big movie ambitions, from the Red Sea International Film Festival, which took place last year in December and celebrates homegrown talent; to Film AlUla, which promotes AlUla as a filming location.

Parts of Cherry, starring Tom Holland, were filmed in AlUla. Gerard Butler has also recently been filming in AlUla for his new film, Kandahar – the first full-length feature film to be shot in the desert location.

Now, as Saudi’s first anime, The Journey, is gaining critical acclaim and international recognition, it sounds like the country is ready for its close-up.

Images: Manga Productions