Microsoft have announced at this year's Comic-Con that they are launching a series of anime shorts produced by leading Japanese studios this fall on Xbox Live (to be released next year on Blu-Ray and DVD). Heading the Halo Legends effort as creative director is Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed) and while the visual style has been left to the creative minds at the Japanese studios, Microsoft's Halo division 343 Industries are making sure that the stories fit in the Halo universe.
"The opportunity to work with talents such as Shinji Aramaki, Mamoru Oshii and others from some of the greatest anime studios is a very rare opportunity for Microsoft," said Frank O'Connor, "Halo" franchise development director and provider of story and creative direction for 343 Industries. "We've seen the world through Master Chief's eyes, and we've experienced facets of the universe through a variety of literary prisms, but now we get to watch new tales unfold in really rich, visually dynamic ways. I think anime fans and ‘Halo' fans alike are in for a real treat."
"‘Halo' and its characters are a very natural fit for anime," said Aramaki, creative director for the "Halo Legends" project. "As a fan of the ‘Halo' universe, it is an honor to work with Microsoft and my very talented peers from other studios to create this collection."
Below are some details on the studios that participate in the Halo Legends project and their previous work.
• Bones. Founded in 1998, Bones has become one of the top animation studios in Japan in less than a decade. The studio is best known for its incredible body of work on mega-hit franchises such as "Cowboy Bebop: The Movie," "Fullmetal Alchemist," "Sword of the Stranger" and "Eureka Seven."
• Casio Entertainment. Casio Entertainment was founded in 2004 and is renowned for its visual effects work on the movie "Dai Nipponjin" ("Big Man of Japan"), which was officially invited to the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 2008 Asian Film Awards. Casio Entertainment is also known for its computer-generated animation support work on several top Japanese video games.
• Production I.G. Production I.G has produced a number of acclaimed feature films, original video animation, TV shows and video games. For their storytelling and quality of animation, "Ghost in the Shell," "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade" and "Blood: The Last Vampire" have earned critical accolades in Japan and all around the world. "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence," directed by Mamoru Oshii in 2004, was the first Japanese animation feature ever to compete for the Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes.
• STUDIO4˚C. STUDIO4˚C is one of the top animation studios in Japan. Founded by the industry veteran Eiko Tanaka and acclaimed animation artist Koji Morimoto, it has become globally known for its uncanny ability to marry the spirit of high art with mainstream anime aesthetic. STUDIO4˚C is known for works including "The Animatrix," "Tekkonkinkreet" and "Batman: Gotham Knight."
• Toei Animation. Toei Animation, established in 1956, is the oldest animation studio in Japan. Toei has produced the largest number of global hit TV anime series for kids, such as "Dragon Ball," "Digimon," "Sailor Moon," "One Piece" and many more.