Leading Latin American animation studio Ánima has launched a dedicated adult-young adult division and announced that later this year it will begin production on “El Santos,” a serialized version of the company’s 2012 comic book-inspired feature “El Santos vs la Tetona Mendoza.”
The star-studded, landmark film established Ánima as not only a regional powerhouse of Mexican animation, but a leading creator of cartoon content internationally, and was the company’s first production to screen at France’s prestigious Annecy Animation Festival.
2022 will mark Ánima’s 20th anniversary. After nearly two decades of producing content almost exclusively for the kids and family market, Ánima co-founders Fernando De Fuentes Sainz, CEO, and José C. García de Letona, COO, knew the time was right to reach out to a new demographic.
“We’ve seen so much appetite from platforms and networks for content that’s animated for adults and young adults,” García de Letona explained to Variety. “Nowadays, new shows release every other week, and I think it demonstrates that there is a new generation more willing to embrace the medium, and not only in comedy either. Adult animation is being produced for every genre. For us, this has huge potential for storytelling.”
Although made in Mexico and built on a foundation of kids and family content, Ánima has grown into a truly international company with bases in Mexico City, Buenos Aires and the rapidly expanding animation hotbed of Spain’s Canary Islands. Ánima has also established a strong track record of successful international co-production. In total, the company has produced or co-produced 22 animated features, nine television series totaling more than 572 half hour episodes, and boasts a digital network with more than 24 million subscribers.
“Our history demonstrates that we can and have worked with companies all over the world, from Australia to Russia, to Ukraine, to the U.K. and obviously the U.S. That will continue as we keep looking for the right partners for the right projects,” García de Letona explained.
For its first production the right project was obvious, at least to the producers at Ánima. “’El Santos’ has a huge built-in audience internationally. Also, the sense of humor of the creators totally fits what is being produced today. I think they were ahead of their time,” said García de Letona.
“El Santos vs la Tetna Mendoza” was released in 2012 and was a hit among fans of the original comic, created by Mexican illustrators José Trinidad Camacho (Trino) and José Ignacio Solórzano (Jis) – both of whom will serve as executive producers on the animated series. The film featured a stellar cast of Latin American talent, led by Daniel Giménez Cacho (“Zama”), José María Yazpik (“Narcos: Mexico”), Héctor Jiménez (“Nacho Libre”), and Regina Orozco (“Deep Crimson”), featuring appearances by Guillermo del Toro, Cheech Marin and brothers Demián (“The Hateful Eight”), Bruno (“Midaq Alley”) and Odiseo Bichir (“Dark City”).
“The movie was a love letter to ‘El Santos,’ and what we achieved in that film was meant for fans of the IP. With the series, we want to change the focus to touch more on current events and to reach a new generation, or generations, in a slightly different way,” García de Letona elaborated. “In a series, the narrative should be faster and more current, so we’re making a concerted effort there.”
As was the case with the feature film, “El Santos” will be action-packed, brightly colored and 2D animated, with a twisted sense of humor that spoofs many aspects of contemporary culture. And, while García de Letona explained that no voice talent has been contacted yet for the series, several creative staff from the feature film will be working on the series adaptation.
While “El Santos” is a native Mexican IP, the CEO insists the company will continue its tradition of working on productions in other languages and from other cultures.
“We see ourselves dividing our efforts in two ways: Regional stuff that goes all in locally and global stuff, which we’ve done for a long time now. We want to very clearly differentiate one from the other,” he explained, adding that the new division will be working on two to three series productions each year. “For us, this is about devoting the time and research to build a roster of projects for older audiences.”
For the time being, Ánima is only ready to announce “El Santos,” but García de Letona did tease that several other projects are already in development, of both existing IPs and entirely new stories from promising new creative talent.
“We want to engage with existing properties and work with up-and-coming creators that we can hand a property off to, who will bring a fresh vision in adapting the shows for adult audiences,” García de Letona said of the company’s two-pronged plan. “We will also be seeking out new creators that have their own full vision of what they want to show the world.”
How the company will approach the two opportunities will be established on a case-by-case basis, but García de Letona did explain that, based on two decades of experience, when adapting an already well-known property, Ánima is likely to get involved much earlier in the development process. For new properties, the company will be thorough in vetting projects to validate picking them up.
Release dates and broadcast deals have not been announced yet, but García de Letona did indicate that “El Santos” will be perfect for a global streaming platform, and would be likely to get linear broadcasting in territories where the IP is already established.